All the “No thank you” or “I’m not interested” responses get you closer to the “Yes, I’ll buy one” or “I’ll get one for me and one for my friend” replies. – Aaron Anderson, AnderBerry Bracelets
At each month’s meeting of CreativeMornings/Charlotte, local creatives are given HUG micro-grants of $250. HUG stands for “Helpful, Unfettered Gifts.” Creatives can apply for HUGs for for-profit or non-profit projects underway in the Queen City. HUGs can be used for everything from boosting social media posts to buying materials to booking event or rehearsal space. Charlotte Is Creative has committed to distributing 250 HUGs to celebrate Charlotte’s 250th anniversary.
In November, 12-year-old, Aaron Anderson, was given a HUG Grant for his for-profit company, AnderBerry Bracelets, which he runs with his mom, Amy. But, this was just one small step in a journey Aaron’s been on for several years. He’s driven. He’s shrewd. He’s tenacious. And, he has more than just making money on his mind.
How long have you lived in Charlotte, Aaron?
I moved to Charlotte, NC with my mom and sister in 2012 after leaving my birth place of Atlanta. Things got really tough for us when we experienced domestic violence at the hands of my father. My mom is a tough cookie, so watching her make hard decisions and strategic moves for our safety and well-being helps me to understand that you can’t take things or people for granted. I’m glad we moved because we feel safe and supported here in Charlotte.
What led you to this? How did it get started making bracelets?
After relocating to Charlotte, I tapped into my creative self as an escape from some pretty awful circumstances I found myself in. Over a span of a few years, I experienced homelessness, shelters, foster care, bullying and financial insecurity. Being just a child going through these things, I realized I had a different perspective and different experiences than the average kid. After finding a church home, I learned how to make bracelets made of mini rubber bands. After learning about how Jesus Christ loved the world and performed miracles to help people, I felt empowered to love myself and my help out with my family circumstances. The idea was born to make and sell these bracelets to help get us into a home that we could call our own.
What’s your goal with Anderberry Bracelets?
My goal is to continue to build a brand based on the principle that there is something that each and everyone of us can do to overcome challenges in life and build a business out of virtually nothing. Since most people wear some sort of accessory on their hands and wrists like rings, bracelets, or watches, I’d like to eventually build a jewelry business that would allow for people to buy products to support entrepreneurs and teach people how to build up their confidence in times when life can get particularly rough. I would also like to establish a mentorship program where young creative kids can be matched up with successful people in business who have learned lessons that they’d like to pass on to others.
How did you use your HUG Grant?
To purchase more materials, including rubber bands and other supplies to create customized bracelets using charms and lettering for names. Some of it went into my marketing budget to print my business cards. My customers are so impressed when I give them a business card following their transaction so they can keep in touch with me.
How much time do you spend making bracelets each day? Each week?
On a weekly basis, I spend a few hours making bracelets at home. When I have time where I’m stationary like in the car, at the library or at a waiting room for a dentist appointment, I can use that time to make bracelets, as well. My mom helps me make bracelets, too – especially when I need to spend extra time on special school projects. My business works well with my school schedule because the best time to go out and sell my bracelets is when people get off work or on the weekends. As long as I complete my assignments and homework to maintain my A/B average, I’m good to go.
What are your favorite places to sell in Charlotte?
My favorite places are breweries and sports bars where my customers are big Panthers fans and other NFL or college sports fans. Everywhere I go, I try to have the color combinations that people can appreciate. Once a year, I stock up big time on the colors of the rainbow because I support the LGBTQ community. At the Charlotte Pride Fest, I’m able to show off my hard work and creativity by making some really awesome rainbow colored bracelets.
How do you keep going after being told “No”?
I used to get discouraged when people told me “no”, but over time I’ve developed thick skin, so I don’t take it personally. Times are hard for a lot of people, so I understand when buying a bracelet is not in someone’s budget. In some cases, I’ve been known to discount my prices. There have even been times when I’ve given a freebie or money to someone on the street who looks like they’re having a hard time. There have been times I’ve offered a free bracelet to a police officer to thank them for their service to the city. It’s easier for me to “pay it forward” when I receive tips.
What are your goals in 2019?
To become more focused and consistent with my school work and my chores at home. I’ve been known to use my business as an excuse to get out of doing my chores, but my mom doesn’t play that. I’d also like to acquire a few mentors who can spend time with me so I can develop improved habits that will help me in the future. Lastly, I want to read more books and write more. Eventually, I will publish a book to tell about my experiences as a kid who has risen above homelessness, foster care and bullying to become a success instead of a statistic.
What advice do you have for Charlotte entrepreneurs?
Have confidence towards what you’re good at, whether it’s making a product or providing a service. It’s not a business unless you’re making money, so you’ll have to get used to receiving rejection. All the “No thank you” or “I’m not interested” responses get you closer to the “Yes, I’ll buy one” or “I’ll get one for me and one for my friend” replies.
How can the creative community support you in 2019?
The creative community can support me a few different ways:
- Place an order for an Anderberry Bracelet on Etsy
- Like my Facebook Page at and use both social media hashtags #AnderBerryBracelets and #KidEntrepreneur
- Follow me on Instagram and tag me using @anderberrybracelets
- Spread the news about my business and how I overcame obstacles that could have led me down the wrong path. The best form of marketing is word of mouth. Everyone loves a good story especially when it involves a fearless kid setting an example as an entrepreneur, so it’s a win-win for both the young and the old in Charlotte and beyond.
- Also, it wouldn’t hurt for someone to put in a good word to Ellen Degeneres to feature me on her show.
*Main photo from Heather Liebler Photography.[August 2020 Update: Aaron is currently trying to raise funds in order to attend the school of his dreams, Hargrave Military Academy. If you would like to donate, head to the GoFundMe page here.]
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