By Ike Wilson
The Frederick News-Post, Md.
Three years ago, Julia Schillaci, who was 7 at the time, was watching “Shark Tank” with her parents — a television show that features people who pitch their products to get money to start a business.
The show sparked Julia’s interest in starting a business of her own.
“My parents told me I was too young and to wait until I got older,” Julia said. “I said, ‘No. I want to start right now.'”
Julia’s mother, Beth Schillaci, said, “We let it go for a little bit, but she was very persistent. We looked into it and soap seemed to be a fun thing.”
Today, 10-year-old Julia is founder and chief creative officer of SoapPrizes — a 3-year-old soap-making business. She shared her story and her soap Saturday at Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts in downtown Frederick.
“It’s much harder to do business than it looks,” Julia said, “especially if it’s your business you start.”
Getting exposure and sales are hard, Julia said.
“We do social media, and at Christmas- time, we do gifts,” Julia said.
Julia’s teachers know they’ll be getting soap for Christmas, Schillaci said.
Julia’s parents manage day-to-day marketing, operations and production, since melting soap can get a little hot, and she needs to learn long division before she can manage the balance sheet, Schillaci said.
But Julia remains instrumental in every product decision, Schillaci said.
Julia’s soaps come in various shapes and colors and can be custom made for parties, bridal showers or special events.
“My friends think it’s pretty cool,” Julia said.
Julia’s advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs is: “If you don’t like it, don’t do it. Some kids just want to do something because their parents are doing it, and you got to put some work into it.”
Tom and Marlene England, owners of Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts, are impressed with Julia.
“She’s either going to own a toy store some day or be president of the United States,” Marlene England said. “That’s going to be a tough choice for her.”
Jon and Bernadette Hallenberg, of New Market, saw Julia’s downtown appearance online and decided to stop by the toy shop to see the young entrepreneur.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Bernadette Hallenberg said. “We actually know Julia but didn’t know she was doing this.”
To have this level of ambition at such a young age is amazing, Jon Hallenberg said.
The toy store made for the ideal location for Julia. Foot traffic was constant and families stopped to chat with her.
Linda Pierce, who was visiting Frederick from San Diego, also chatted with Julia.
“It’s nice to see young girls becoming independent and having a business sense at such a young age,” Pierce said. “My daughter, who just turned 10, was impressed.”
Money the venture makes is being reinvested into the business, Julia’s parents said, adding that 10 percent of the profits are being donated to the Lab Rescue to help them care for the dogs until they find homes.
“It’s been a family affair,” Schillaci said.