There was a time when 11-year-old Donovan Smith was homeless. ?And during that time, three years ago, Smith wanted to come up with a way to help others in the same situation. His idea was to make and sell soaps. But he didn’t just use the idea to benefit his family, but to help other homeless people as well. He gives 20 percent of his sales from his company Toil and Trouble, and 20 percent to the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico, the organization that helped Smith and his mother get back on their feet.? Smith’s mother, Casey Smith, is an ex-Navy cryptologist dealing with PTSD and a leg injury from her service in the military. During the economic crisis, she had difficultly finding a job.
“I like being able to help others and use my creativity to make cool things,” says Smith.
Smith’s soaps are appetizing looking–in the shape of donuts, pies, popsicles and cupcakes. As the youngest vendor at Rail Yards Market in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Smith and his products stand out. He uses aloe vera and goat?s milk to concoct his unique creations. He has since expanded his line to include body butter, aluminum-free deodorant, bath fizzies, and bubble bars.
“I started making soaps as part of my homeschooling. It was fun. I would give away what I made then started asking people to order from me. It just grew bigger and bigger,” says Smith, who is still homeschooled which gives him more flexibility to juggle the business and school.
“I am homeschooled and my business is part of my schooling because it teaches math, science, art and money lessons,” he explains.
Smith says there is one part of his growing popularity he has difficulty with. “I am a germaphobe,? he admits with a laugh, “and the hardest part is that so many people want to hug me, kiss me or shake my hand. The struggle is real. Purell, patience and hardwork helps.”
For 2015, he has set some solid goals. “The year will be about traveling, learning new things and helping others,” says Smith, who wants to go to Paris to visit the great museums, and sit under the Eiffel Tower and draw.
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Maya Penn: A Young Entrepreneur with Big Ideas
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