Save the environment: Message from Ethan and Zoe Olayeni on recycling

Tell us about yourselves.
We are siblings and I’m the older one. My name is Ethan Obaloluwa Olayeni. I am 8 years old and in Year 3. My sister, Zoe Anuoluwani Olayeni is 6 years old and in year 2. At the last prize giving day in our school, we both got prizes for being the best overall in our respective classes academically. We are from Kogi state in Nigeria and live in Lagos. We love our parents dearly who always teach us to be the best at whatever we do.

Tell us about Pompoms and Tassels ‘Junior’ and how it came to life.
Pompoms and Tassels are names of crafted items that are commonly used in decorating and accessorizing. My mum came up with the business name Pompoms and Tassels because she’s very artsy and loves to make them a lot amongst other crafts. We love to make pompoms too.

Pompoms & Tassels is an eco-friendly company. It was started out of a need to let people know about living in a greener environment. We use unwanted materials which we find all around and give them a new, colorful and artistic life. We also make great efforts to use environment-friendly alternatives in the course of production of items from non-waste materials.
We run the ‘junior’ arm of Pompoms & Tassels. The items created here are influenced by us being the innovative children we are. We get help where we need to, but we know what children like and so we make decisions on what to create. If our ideas are accepted, work begins.

Why did you choose the business of recycling used materials?
We watched and learnt from our Mum. Upcycling is what we call what we do. It is a type of Recycling but Upcycling is the creative reuse of materials without lowering the value. It’s just our own way of saving the environment from the negative effects of poor waste management.

Recycling used materials is not a very common business, where did you get the idea from?
Again we got the idea from our Mum. She practices it and taught us what it meant and we like the idea very much because it gives us the opportunity to help the environment and to also make money. It is not very common because people don’t understand why you have to work with waste at all, but more and more people are beginning to know about proper waste management because of businesses like ours and so we are happy.

Who are your role models in the recycling business and the business world as a whole?
Our Mum is our number one role model in the recycling business. She is dedicated to her work and we see the results and want to be like her but she always says to us to make efforts to be even better than she is. We like a particular company which makes seasoning cubes because their products seem to be everywhere in the country and that speaks of a successful business. We hope to have our products sold all over the world too.

Being an entrepreneur has different impacts on people, how do you feel about being an entrepreneur?
It’s exciting for us to know that we can make money from the work of our hands. This makes us work harder. We always want to spend our monies right away on edibles and other things but we have been taught the need to save. We are still trying to understand money value so that we know exactly what we can afford with our profit, but we are thankful for the basic knowledge of entrepreneurship.

Every business has its good and bad moments, can you share your good and bad moments in the business with us?
We like it when people appreciate our work and buy them. We have had the opportunity more than once, to participate in the Business Fair for Children organized by Aunty Bowale of Kid Entrepreneurs. We’ve had some good moments in that some of the items we made were all bought and some didn’t get the same attention. But it has helped us get better.The fairs are usually organized during holidays which gives us time to prepare but when school is in session, we have limited time to focus on our crafts.

What are your challenges in the recycling business and how were you able to handle them?
Well we try not to focus on the challenges, we stay excited about what we are making and how it will turn out. But some of the physical challenges we go through are getting the waste materials we need, cleaning, storing the waste materials, selling and distribution of the upcycled items.

What do you do with the profits you make from your business?
We save our money but if we need to buy art and craft supplies, we use part of it because we know we will make even more when we sell the newly made items.

You recycle used materials into new products, how do people react to these products when you tell them they are recycled products?
The reactions we receive are always encouraging as we are detailed in our work and so the finished products are always worth all the trouble. We source for unique materials for decorating and embellishing the raw waste material. Most people don’t even realize that they are upcycled products and when we let them know, some of them say that we should leave that part out so we can sell more because not everyone will like upcycled products…but then our ‘Save the Environment’ message will be lost. So we boldly say to everyone, you are helping the environment when you purchase any of our products.

Can you tell us the various products you have made from recycling used materials?
We have made bags from old and unwanted Jeans, Throw pillows from fabric scrap, Flower vases from old Jam Jars and wine bottles, Paper craft from old magazines, Wall art from cable spools and other things.

Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Five years from now, Pompoms and Tassels will be a household name for all Art, Design and Lifestyle needs whilst bringing creative solutions to global environmental challenges.

What important lessons have you learnt from running your business?
Running the business has taught us diligence and has shown us that there are no short cuts to success. It has made us appreciate our parents and elders even more because it takes a lot of hard work to be able to provide for us. We have also learnt to appreciate small beginnings whilst aiming for the top.

What is your advice to kids who are interested in being an entrepreneur?
We say first of all, be serious with your school work and then think of what business you will like to do which will not seem like a chore. It should be something you enjoy doing and that has a good purpose. Think also of a business that will bring you money and value so that the business can grow.

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