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Kids of Westport

Addison Moore

President and Founder, Up|Next

His idea for Up|Next: “Up|Next is a response to a need. We live in a privileged area so there’s lots of organizations teaching kids about the value of community service and many educating about the fundamentals of business and entrepreneurialism. But no one was addressing the obvious intersection of the two. So I created Up|Next with the simple goal of teaching teens how to do good while doing well.”

His inspiration: “Growing up in NYC, I realized food insecurity is a major problem. As a kid whenever I passed someone on the street I always gave them whatever cash I had on hand, but I actually committed to addressing it formally at age seven with my first business Addison’s Cider and Donuts.”

Number of members: “As of June 18th there are 32 teen members (including myself) and 5 incredible adult advisory board members.”

Their projects: “Despite being founded less than half a year ago, we’ve partnered with some amazing organizations like MoCA, Westport Library, and Teacher Marketplace, which has allowed us to put on four major events including a virtual elevator pitch workshop and a teen job fair.”

Goals for Up|Next: “My hope is to take it to a national level. This fall we’re hoping to create Up|Next clubs in schools around the county to give teens easy access to all our offerings. Although Up|Next itself will stay private, we see collaborating with schools and local organizations as a necessary next step.”

Camryn Nazem

Owner of Stacked by Camryn, beaded bracelets and mask chains

(with mom, Randi Nazem)

Business idea: “My cousin started a beading business before I started mine. For my birthday she got me beads. I started making bracelets for friends and family. [The beads] become expensive to buy, so I decided to start a company.”

RN: “She watches Shark Tank almost every night.”

How it started: “Mom helped me. I did beading and she would tie it [apply super glue to the knot].”

RN: “We made this mask chain and posted it on Instagram and it went overboard! Last summer she got hundreds of mask chain orders. We’d wake up and go straight to the basement to bead.”

Cost of a bracelet: “A bracelet costs $10 for kids. They cost less for kids than adults. Every bracelet is personalized. You can buy two and give one to your best friend.”

Customization process: “I ask what colors do you want? Do you want your name on it? We can put on charms and star beads.”

RN: “Sports beads, heart beads. Adults wanted gold balls with kids names and a stack with better quality beads.”

Her creative process: “Sometimes you can just use creativity and do what you want. If it doesn’t turn out good, then try again and don’t give up.”

Ben Lorenz

Ben Lorenz Shoes, custom decorated shoes

His idea: "I got Vans and thought I should spice them up a bit because plain white is boring. So I ordered paint pens and drew a replication of the Great Wave design by Hokusai.” 

What he draws: “I’ve customized shoes with Keith Haring drawings, famous paintings like The Scream and Starry Night, record albums, commemorative shoes like RBG Converse high tops, puppies, sushi, logos, geometric designs. Pretty much anything that people request I can draw.” 

Beyond shoes: “I’m thinking about decorating jean jackets and jeans. I’m open to creating custom and personalized gear that are one-of-a-kind.” 

Sundry information: “Prices range depending on design. Smaller and simpler designs range from $20-45 and more intricate designs can be up to $100. Typically I order the shoes and the customer tells me which style, brand and size.”

On expanding business: “I’ve thought about expanding some of the ordering or accounting aspects of my business and have had friends offer to help. With regard to the design, I plan to continue being the sole artist. I want to make sure the quality is consistent.”