The Santa Barbara Community Arts Workshop was buzzing Sunday for the first-of-its-kind Youth Makers Market, a youth-driven pop-up created to encourage local kids to create and manage their own small businesses, selling everything from arts and crafts to homemade honey and jewelry.
“I cannot thank the community enough,” said Cecilia Rubio, who helped organize the event with her daughters, Aaliyah and Bella Rubio.
Aaliyah sold hand-beaded jewelry, and Bella had her own line of self-harvested honey. Other young creators and business owners sold art, snacks, clothing, and accessories — all made and sold by the kids themselves.
The Rubio family decided to create the nonprofit Youth Makers Market as a place for the youth to feel empowered to create and sell their own products, and foster a new generation of independent entrepreneurs. Sunday was the first of what is planned to be monthly events at the community workshop on Garden Street.
The ages of the sellers ranged from 6-year-old canvas artist Jack Depass to high school senior Emma Baltadano, who created her own line of jewelry, airbrushed T-shirts, and makeup under the name Mariposa Cosmeticz. Sixteen youth total signed up to sell at this first event.
And although they’re young, some of them have already been at it for years. Braydon Farias, 11, has already been cooking for over four years. He brought his own special-recipe green pozole, and about halfway into the event, he had already sold the better part of two large pots.
For the kids, it can be a chance to have fun and be creative. Josh Pulido, a 7th grader at La Cumbre Middle School, sold hand-drawn street-style art. He said that his favorite part of the process is getting to express himself through his art.
Selling their own products also gives them the chance to earn their own money and learn the value of a hard-earned dollar. Some are planning on using the money they earned to invest in new projects, while some are even using the profits to help others.
Padme’s Pops offered refreshing handmade popsicles in a variety of flavors, all created by 7-year-old Padme Valentina.
She was inspired by the story her grandmother told her of Christian Antuan, a fisherman based in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, who lost his arm in an accident and was unable to work to support his family. In an effort to help Antuan afford a new prosthetic arm, Valentina had the idea to make and sell popsicles and use the money to help their family friend.
On a bright Sunday, her “pops” are selling quickly, especially the spicy mango and organic blueberry flavors. She smiles and takes her customers’ orders, wearing a shirt that reads “Minding My Latina-Owned Business.”
This new generation of little business owners are following in the footsteps of a wave of small businesses that have popped up in the past two years, especially in the Mexican-American community. The National Women’s Business Council recently reported Latina businesses have grown at a rapid annual rate of 10 percent over the past year, and here in Santa Barbara, new spaces, such as the Mujeres Market, have shown the wealth of women entrepreneurship in the city.
Alyssa Gonzalez, an art teacher at Montecito Union School, was Rubio’s “right hand” in organizing the event. She said she is looking forward to expanding for next month’s market, and that it was great to see the turnout for the first day.
“We’re just excited to have the support,” Gonzalez said.
Their plan is to hold the Youth Makers Market monthly, with the next event scheduled from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday, October 17, at the same location, 631 Garden Street. For more info, follow @youthmakermarket on Instagram.