Nine-year-old Nevaeh Munro, of Battle Ground, spends, her time doing all the usual things kids do — playing with her sister and brothers, cuddling a pair of dove grey kittens and practicing the piano.
She has also started her own business.
While the last one is a little unusual, it’s all part of a school day for Nevaeh. Her business, dubbed LaZLocks, now generates thousands of dollars in sales and donates hundreds of colorful headbands to children undergoing chemotherapy.
Nevaeh was studying a unit on business for her homeschool curriculum, said her mother, Melissa Munro, and they decided to create a real world project.
They settled on a business making handcrafted headbands. Melissa had experience selling headbands of a different design, which prompted the idea. But Neveah’s design is all her own.
“I just kind of made this one,” said Nevaeh, holding up the softly braided headband. “I found out how to make braids, and then made it a little different.”
In the process of creating her headband business, Nevaeh learned about product design and testing, sourcing materials, pricing, developing a budget and marketing. She learned how to use post office shipping and, of course, crafting techniques to create the headbands.
The first headbands were made from second-hand T-shirts, gleaned from the bargain bins at the Goodwill store outlet. She gave those first headbands away and asked for feedback. The fabric yielded interesting color patterns, but wearers said the fabric didn’t hold its stretchiness well over the long term, and a popular fabric couldn’t be reproduced because no more was available.
Nevaeh started experimenting with new fabrics. It needed the right amount of stretch, and Nevaeh wanted the fabric to “curl” when she stretched it to form a cluster of tube-like straps.
She finally found a “just right” solution, a stretchy rayon and spandex blend cloth. It was available in a wide range of colors, kept just the right stretchiness over time, and was easy to craft into Nevaeh’s distinctive braided design.
How long does it take to make each headband? “About 30 seconds,” she said with a shrug.
The headbands are offered in 25 colors now, and growing. During football season they add color combinations for NFL teams, and Washington State University sells them in school colors in their bookstore.
Nevaeh sharpened her pencil and figured out a budget that worked and pricing for her headbands. She sells them for $8 each, 2 for $15, or 3 for $20. And with each order, she donates a headband for a child who is undergoing chemotherapy or other medical treatments. The headbands go to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Children’s Cancer Association, or to a particular child who comes to her attention.
“I like to donate the headbands,” said Nevaeh. She enjoys offering a pretty gift to other children who are going through a hard time.
Nevaeh interest in helping other children was piqued when she was 5 years old. She organized a toy drive and delivered the gifts to a hospital where she talked with the young patients.
“I saw what a hard time they were having and I felt said. Now when they go into chemotherapy, they have something pretty,” she said.
Nevaeh sports the headbands herself to control her naturally curly brown hair. “I have uncontrollable, crazy hair,” she smiled, running a finger through the thick ringlets. “I wear them a lot, they’re soft and they spread out.”
“I like having a business,” said Nevaeh. She is trying to come up with some other business ideas, and would like to someday make a career in her own business.
“I also like music,” she asserted. “That’s my top thing.”
Nevaeh plays the piano and sings, and has performed at local open mic nights, where her favorite music is country and western or bluegrass.
Nevaeh sells her headbands at family garage sales, farmer’s markets, through facebook, and on the popular hand-craft site Etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/LaZLocks. They are also sold at gyms, crossfit, and yoga studios. And her soccer team wears them too, she said.
Since January, she has donated 225 headbands. What does a 9-year-old do with the money she earns? “I like to donate that, too,” said Nevaeh. She especially likes to buy items for gift boxes for children through Operation Christmas Child.
Nevaeh’s Etsy “bio” sums it up nicely. “I am 9 years old, and in the forth (sic) grade. I am a homeschooler and started La-Z-Locks to learn about how to run a business, and to give back. Every order I sell buys one for a cancer warrior!”