Teens sewing their way to a small business
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Teens sewing their way to a small business

Aug 1, 2017

BATAVIA — A pair of young entrepreneurs are working to ensure fresh market shoppers don’t have to rely on plastic bags.

Manning a booth at the Genesee Country Farmers’ Market in Batavia each Friday, Erin Hess and Katarina Lucker sell a collection of canvas bags for carrying produce as part of their expanding business.

Rinny and Rina’s Shoppe — the title uses both their nicknames — started as a hobby, with items sewn and sold to family and friends. But Hess and Lucker, classmates at Alexander, are spending the summer before eighth grade making it into a business.

Hess handles the sewing, while Lucker works the business side. At the market, they hand out business cards and direct shoppers to their social media accounts — Instagram.com/rinny_and_rinas is the most popular.

All this after earning college credits through Genesee Community College and basketball camp.

“I enjoy being busy,” Hess said.

Lucker is happy to strike a pose with one of the bags, but both girls are putting in the work to make their items the best quality they can produce. It starts with picking up on what will sell.

“What we’re making right now is really basic things for sewing, because we want to make them perfectly for people,” Hess said from behind a table of tote bags, hand bags, wine bottle holders and bookmarks that range from $1 to $20.

They purchase fabrics from crafts stores, pull ideas from the Internet and start matching and modifying their designs. Birds are a popular motif, they agreed, but they take requests at the market.

Both Hess and Lucker said they have inspiration from their mothers, who both use their creative skills for business. Hess’ does graphic design work and Lucker’s sells a variety of things and sews herself.

Other market vendors have watched the pair grow as merchants, from handling slow days to the appearance of high winds. A Bungee cord held the colorful bags in place last week. Looking forward, they see it evolving, and so do “Rinny” and “Rina.”

“It’s something I want to grow, maybe even get a bigger space and grow my inventory,” Hess said.

By Jim Krencik, The Daily News

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