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Meet Olivia Hayes: Young Entrepreneur Finding Herself Through Art

By Alicia Banks The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) 7 year old Olivia Hayes is a vendor with Southern Roots Trading Co. in Hope Mills. The shop has a space showcasing Olivia's works, including necklaces she creates for American Girl dolls and water-painted greeting cards.

The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.

Olivia Hayes sat quietly on her knees as she leaned over a tablecloth decorated in leaves the morning of April 5. On the cloth were pink-handled pliers of different sizes and necklaces made of colored balls and chain. Nearby were piles of charms -- cameras, owls, lady bugs and feathers.

The 7-year-old spends some of her mornings making the necklaces inside her Fort Bragg home on Sands Street. The jeweled necklaces aren't for Olivia to wear. They're for the popular American Girl dolls.

By 10 a.m., she made more than 10 necklaces and a pair of earrings with jewels shaped like dewdrops.

"I have six American Girl dolls," Olivia said with a smile. She looked at a necklace she made with an owl and a feather. "Although it doesn't match, it reminded me of the nice weather when I would stand outside and watch the birds fly when I lived in Florida."

The necklaces she makes are available for purchase.

Olivia, a homeschool student, is a vendor with Southern Roots Trading Co. in Hope Mills. The shop has a space showcasing Olivia's works, including the necklaces for the American Girl dolls and water-painted greeting cards. Olivia sells her items -- necklaces are $5 each -- under the name "Liv & Pip," a nod to her and her younger sister, Penelope.

She also plans to make and sell purses made out of colorful duct tape for the American Girl dolls. She also wants to add water-colored envelopes to her vending space at the shop on Legion Road. So far, Olivia is in her second month as a vendor and has sold two necklaces. She rents her space for $5.

"Art makes me really happy," Olivia said. "It expresses my feelings."

Olivia held a small chocolate chip cookie, an accessory she crafted for the American Girl dolls. The life-like cookie was created from polymer clay. The cookie is small enough to rest on an adult's fingertip. Olivia used the bristles of a toothbrush, a toothpick and aluminum foil to create the cookie's uneven surface.

"The cookies remind me of when my mom, my sister and I would sit down with a glass of milk and watch movies," she said. "Art is something my mom introduced me to."

Cassandra Hayes, Olivia's mom, said her daughter has been making jewelry for about a year. She started as a vendor in the Tampa Kids Market in Tampa Bay, Florida. The market provides a space for youth ages 8 to 17 to sell items -- all created by them -- while learning basics of entrepreneurship.

"She has such attention to detail," Hayes said. "She's quick and now, I want to teach her more complicated techniques. I'm such a super-proud mom of both of my girls, and Olivia is the artist of the family."

"Me too!" shouted Penelope as she put down a coloring sheet marked by pink, yellow and red. Hayes smiled, agreeing with Penelope.

Hayes added, "Olivia is all the things you wish your kid will be. She's it."

Soon, Olivia and her mom will tackle making necklaces with a lobster clasp. Olivia is also researching how to make bracelets and rings for the dolls.

"I've been watching a YouTube tutorial video to make those, and it gave me an idea for what I want to do," Olivia said.

And she'll jot those ideas down in a notebook with a fluffy puppy on the cover.

"And it's not about drawing random lines or coloring in them. It's about what you feel inside," she said. "There's an artist who inspired me who changed his style about five times."

His name? Pablo Picasso.

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