Trep Corner: Valerie Weisler

val photo interview

Meet Teen ‘Trep: Valerie Weisler


Twitter: @valiswiser

Instagram: thevalidationproject and valiswsier

Facebook:  The Validation Project

Valerie Weisler was a shy high school freshman when she came across a student being bullied and said two words that changed both of their lives, “You matter.” His response, that her words “validated” him, planted the seeds for The Validation Project. Having experienced bullying herself, Valerie launched the project to help other teens gain confidence and develop the skills to address social justice issues. The Validation Project also incorporates an entrepreneurial curriculum, that has replaced government-led anti-bullying courses in nearly 1,000 schools across the globe. To date, The Validation Project has grown from a handful of New York schools into a global organization with chapters in 105 countries. So far, 6,000 teens have gone through the program, 38,500 teens have joined chapters, 3,000 adults have served as mentors, and $40,000 in goods and services have been donated in support of the project. Valerie has received attention from the White House, the UN, the State Department, President Obama, Julia Roberts, Justin Timberlake, Prince William and more.


What advice would you give to aspiring teen entrepreneurs?

Listen to the people who tell you “No,” and “You can’t do that,” and use that as your fuel to prove the world wrong.


What would you say is the best part of being a young entrepreneur?

Being able to take the impossible and turn it into a solution for a problem. Being able to have an idea and be like, “Hey! Let’s make this happen!”








Trep Corner: Aaron Easaw

aaron easaw picture

Meet Teen ‘Trep: Aaron Easaw


Twitter: @AaronEaswaw
I’m currently 18 and started INC.UBATOR at the age of 16. INC.UBATOR started as an investment syndicate for young entrepreneurs. If you’re not too clear on what an investment syndicate is, young entrepreneurs would come to me with their companies. Then my company would analyze the company and perform due diligence. If the company checked out, we would send the company to our group of investors who rely on us to help bring young entrepreneurs into their deal flow. We started as a syndicate and now we’re in the middle of raising our first investment fund.



What advice would you give to aspiring teen entrepreneurs?

I started INC.UBATOR as a school project in 10th grade to help other students who had asked for me to help them with their businesses. I use to own a software company before I started INC.UBATOR. My inspiration for INC.UBATOR was exactly that.
My advice to any young aspiring entrepreneur is to use your age as leverage. It’s such a powerful tool in opening up doors. Another point I would add is don’t be afraid at ALL. I highly believe you cannot take it too far at all when you’re pitching. Feel free to read my article I wrote about it in Fortune here.



What would you say is the best part of being a young entrepreneur?

Freedom, the best part of being an entrepreneur is being able to do what you want.






Trep Corner: Bella Weems (Origami Owl)


Meet Teen ‘Trep: Bella Weems (19 years old)


Facebook: Origami Owl

Twitter: @origamiowl

Instagram: OrigamiOwl


My name is Bella Weems and I am 19 years-old. I started Origami Owl when I was 14 with the dream to save enough money for a car. With $350 saved from babysitting money, I decided to start my own company. I have always loved jewelry and discovered some pretty glass lockets.  I had the idea to personalize them by taking charms that represent your personal story and placing them inside the locket so the necklace could be worn for the world to see. Origami Owl is all about expressing yourself, so we create charms that a wide range of people can enjoy and relate to.


Origami Owl got its name because I have always loved Origami. I had it hanging in my bedroom when I was younger. Origami is beautiful and unique, while owls represent wisdom, strength and courage. When my mom and I put the name Origami Owl together, we loved the way it sounded and what it represented, whimsy and wise.


Today, Origami Owl is a direct selling, customizable jewelry company that allows men, women and boys and girls over the age of twelve to start their own Origami Owl company and be their own entrepreneur. We have over 60,000 Independent Designers in America, Puerto Rico and recently Canada, and have plans to expand into more global markets in the future.


What advice would you give to aspiring teen entrepreneurs?

No dream is ever too small or big, and it doesn’t matter how old or young you are. Trust in yourself, and surround yourself with people who believe in you and will lift you up. My mom and I took a leap of faith, and look where I ended up! If you have a dream, follow it, make it a reality and always try to find a way to pay it forward.


What would you say is the best part of being a young entrepreneur?

The best part about being an entrepreneur, especially for a direct selling company, is that I quickly realized we had an opportunity to change people’s lives by allowing them to do the same thing I did and start their own businesses. I get to encourage women, men and kids as young as 12 to become designers (with their parents’ permission) and follow their dreams of owning their own businesses.










Trep Corner: Chief Outfitters

Chief OUtfitters Pic

Meet Teen ‘Treps: Phillip & Corey

Instagram: chief___outfitters

Corey is 16 years old and I am 17 years old. What we have is a clothing line that was started off just for teens but now our style is engineered to the point that anyone can wear our stuff. A big part of Chief Outfitters is social media advertisement. We have an Instagram page (chief___outfitters) that we use to gain more popularity , customers and sales through.

Chief Outfitters all started as an idea in history class.  It was near the last couple of weeks of school and we weren’t really doing anything in class but just watching a movie. At that time, I was working a job that I wasn’t really enjoying and I wanted to quit, but still make money. Corey on the other hand wasn’t old enough to get a job, but he wanted to make money as well. We both realized that we wanted to make money but didn’t really want to work a job, well at least I didn’t want to work a job. At first, we were going to write a book together because that’s what we use to do and we enjoyed doing that. We couldn’t really centralize our ideas, so we just gave up. We thought that there was no way on earth we could work together to accomplish bigger goals. I went home that night and just slept. I was thinking to myself that …I wanted something that Corey and I could both do, but do well with no distractions. I thought and thought until I came to the point that I was really thinking about starting a clothing line. That same night, I got on the phone with Corey and introduced the idea to him. I’ve always been very creative and he’s been good at business so we just ran with the idea, and that’s how chief outfitters came to be. First week at school, we sold 40 shirts and made almost $400. Shortly after that we started networking on social media pages  and now we ship to over 10 states… And this is our first year.

What is your business tip for teens?

Never think that you’re too young.  All large corporations start with one person who had an idea and wanted to change the world. Don’t spend your free time watching TV. Explore your talents. We all have talents and gifts that are given to us from God. Find what you’re best and see if you can transform it into a business if that’s what you want to do.

What is the best part of being an entrepreneur?

You are your own boss. You get to direct your future. It’s also fun networking . Also, when you go out in public and , for us, when we see someone with our clothing that’s pretty cool. We get to go up to them and take a picture with them.  Also, best part of being an entrepreneur is you can set yourself up for the future RIGHT NOW.

Trep Corner: Tommy Hopper

Whats on the Menu Pic

Meet Teen ‘Trep: Tommy Hopper


Twitter: @WhatsOnTheMenu_


My name is Tommy Hopper (17) and I am the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of What’s On The Menu STL. You can find out about my company at or @WhatsOnTheMenu_ on Twitter. What’s On The Menu STL began as an informational web data base and eventually grew into the Kirkwood High School based customer delivery service that we are today. We began our website development in September 2014 in Professor Nixon’s Entrepreneurship class at Kirkwood High School in St. Louis, Missouri. After months of internal development, we took and delivered our first orders as a delivery service in November of 2014 and we have been going strong ever since. This month we will be rolling out our brand new morning delivery service just in time for the 30 Day Challenge competition with Independent Youth.

What is your Business Tip for Teens?

When starting a business, make sure you are solving a problem. Whether it is a need that people have or a desire for a certain product/service a successful start-up business built by teens solves a problem or improves something that makes peoples’ lives easier/better.

What is the Best Part of Being an Entrepreneur?

As a teen, being an entrepreneur is awesome because it allows you to receive a real-life business experience while still in high school or college. The experience of running your own business is a rewarding experience and teaches you helpful leadership and problem solving skills. Being a teenage entrepreneur teaches you to think on your feet and develop customer-relations skills as well.




Trep Corner: Josh Seides

Josh S

Meet Teen ‘Trep: Josh Seides

Company Technocademy


Facebook: Technocademy, Inc.

Twitter: @Technocademy

My name is Josh Seides and I am junior at Alpharetta High School in Atlanta, Georgia. I am 16 years old and love everything related to entrepreneurship. I started a nonprofit in my freshman year (discussed below), write for national business magazines (like Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Small Business, Yahoo! News, Fast Company, and Business 2 Community), conduct market research, and provide pro bono business consulting in my local community.

Ever since I could remember, I have been helping my grandparents, who live in New York, with their own technology issues. When I used to visit, I would spend a lot of time helping my grandmother configure her new iPhone and my grandfather his new iPad. I thought, “Hey, they must not be the only seniors in the country needing help with technology.” I decided to launch Technocademy to help other seniors and veterans across the nation reconnect with family and friends.

In 2012, I officially formed Technocademy and began to seek grants and partnerships. We now have partnerships with major companies like Google, HP, and Microsoft; with organizations like YMCA and United Way; and have received grants from organizations like ABC, Disney, and the Fitzberg Foundation.

We have helped more than 150,000 seniors and veterans and look to continue this impact in the future!

What is your Business Tip for Teens?

To aspiring “difference-makers” in the community, the most important advice is to figure out your passion and make a difference with it. By pinpointing something you enjoy doing, you can engage your interests with the needs of the community and make the world a better place.

Also, I would say not to be afraid to reach out to large companies. Initially, I was struck by the illusion that a company at our level would never be able to partner with the big guns like United Way, YMCA, or HP. Once I braced myself to take the next step by contacting some of these businesses, the whole dynamic of Technocademy changed. We were able to find new sources of funding as well as exponentially more opportunities for projects and collaboration across the country. Modern business culture has really shied away from complete independence and “cut-throat competition.” It is more advantageous for all–your business, your consumers, and society–to foster interdependent relationships to build a stronger impact.

What is the Best Part of Being an Entrepreneur?

For me, the greatest aspect of running a business is seeing and experiencing the impact we make in the community. Whether through a nonprofit or a for-profit model, I thoroughly enjoy the ability and power businesses have to give back and create a change that is needed in society. Every day, I live this dream and am thrilled with the sanguinity and vitality seniors and veterans experience from our services.

We often have seniors and veterans come to us and share their new experiences with how they’ve learned and been able to reconnect with family and friends. I am just amazed at the potential for positive impact businesses can have in the community. In the future, no matter what business I might delve into, I look forward to enjoying what social footprints it can make for those in need.










Trep Corner: The Meuret Kids


Meet Teen ‘Trep: Hannah Meuret

Company: Coneheads LLC


Facebook: @ConeheadsLLC

My name is Hannah Meuret, I’m 19 years old (20 in July) And I am the CEO of Coneheads Ice Cream. I run the business with my five younger siblings (Clayton 17, Victoria 15, Alex 13, Rachel 11, and Jack 5). We have been running the truck since the summer of 2013.  We started our company in order to separate ourselves from our parents financially and try out our independence. With both of our parents being entrepreneurs, running your own business is the family business haha! We have been going out and knocking on expert’s doors, asking for their advice and perspective on our business and the results were amazing! We have learned so much from our new network and the tools and skills that we’ve picked up from them are invaluable.


What tip do you have for aspiring teen entrepreneurs?

The best tip that I could give teens would be to ask for EXACTLY what you want. I have gotten so far just by asking for what I want. The worst that anyone could say is no, and you’re in the same position you were before. If they say yes, you get what you asked for. This was difficult for me to wrap my head around and practice at first, but once I did doors started opening that I didn’t think were possible. Just by asking I was able to get Coneheads on the news, the radio, and in the same room as some very powerful and intellectual people.

What is the best part of being a teen entrepreneur?

The best part of being an entrepreneur is the flexibility and independence. I can work anytime I want, for as long as I want. This is both a blessing and a curse. I have all the time in the world to work, so sometimes time management can be an issue. But it’s also really cool because I am my own boss, so I have complete control over how much money I have the potential of making. The fact that I can soon be financially independent from my parents is thrilling.









Trep Corner: George Ahlering

Town & Style Pic - George2

Meet Teen ‘Trep: George Ahlering

Company: Williams & Blackwood Clothing Co.

Facebook Page: @wbclothingco
My story begins in the Gateway to the West, St. Louis, Missouri. I was fed up with the mainstream American lifestyle brands; they just didn’t have the whole American picture. Being an aspiring entrepreneur, I set forth to create a brand from the bottom up that truly captured the American Lifestyle. At just 17 years old and with no prior business experience, I dove head first into the business. In February 2014, I decided to make this idea come to life. After hours of thinking and research, I decided upon the unique name “Williams & Blackwood Co” and used three nautical flags as the logo. These flags spell out “STL”, and being from St. Louis is something I take great pride in. Williams & Blackwood opened online at in June 2014 and has been steadily grown ever since. My company designs, produces and sells t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, visors and accessories. We boast over 80 Campus Representatives at universities in over 20 different states from coast-to-coast. The toughest part of building Williams & Blackwood Co. was finding the capital investments needed  to purchase all of the products. Against my parent’s discretion, I spent nearly all of my savings from various summer jobs on the company and then reinvested money with my profits from sales. I owe most of my business’ success to Social Media Marketing and its incredible power to reach possible customers. Our Instagram, @wbclothingco, now has almost 2,300 followers and counting.  We are currently in the process of approaching retail stores to carry Williams & Blackwood Co. Although my business has grown, it is important to me to keep as much of the production and economic impact local as possible.  Our Spring 2015 line has just been released, check it out online at today!


What is your business tip for aspiring teen entrepreneurs?
Just like the quote from the Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come”, do not hesitate in starting up your own company. Do not be held back thinking that no one will ever buy your products, you need to believe in yourself and your product wholeheartedly. With the ever changing world of Social Media, there is a huge doorway at your fingertips which can serve basically as free marketing for your company. Defiantly use this to your advantage.  Also, don’t take ‘No’ for an answer. Be persistent. Even if you have that occasional week or even month without sales, keep pushing along on Social Media, create sales and other offers (ie. giveaways) to gain more momentum. The first month that my store was open, I only had like two sales, and one was from a family member. But, as hard as it was, I remained optimistic and kept on my Social Media pages and the sales came rolling in.


What is the best part of being a teen entrepreneur?
The best part about being an entrepreneur is knowing that you convinced someone to believe in your product and in turn, in you. All of your hard work designing, re-designing and making everything perfect paid off and you feel overjoyed.  Every time someone pushes that “Add to Cart” button, they are showing that they believe in you and in your product. I think that is the best part of being an entrepreneur, overcoming hardships, putting in hard work, and having that all pay off in the end.





Trep Corner: Zach Weisenthal

Dani Leigh Photography

Meet Teen ‘Trep: Zachary Weisenthal


Facebook: @zachswebdesigns

Zach’s Web Designs is a web design business that builds premium WordPress websites, blogs, and online stores. Zach has always been fascinated by web design and computers. Over the Fourth of July weekend, he got the amazing opportunity to attend an entrepreneurial weekend with his father. Zach was fascinated by all the brilliant people he met, and it really got him thinking. Lucky enough, one of the leaders had their own web design company! After many late nights of hard work, Zach mastered the art of WordPress and Zach’s Web Designs was born.


What is your one business tip for teens?
Zach’s tip for young entrepreneurs: Find something you are passionate about and turn it into a business. The only way to be successful is to take risks, and that is what being an entrepreneur is all about!


What is the Best Part of Being an Entrepreneur?
Zach says that the best part of being an entrepreneur is the valuable skills you learn from your experiences. Being an entrepreneur, you meet loads of brilliant people and learn valuable life lessons.



Check out this Independent Youth Teen Entrepreneur Network Member’s full bio now!






Trep Corner: Nick Lowinger

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17-years old, Nick Lowinger is a junior in high school. He lives in RI, and runs his 501(c)(3) charity, the Gotta Have Sole Foundation out of his family’s garage.

Meet Teen ‘Trep: Nick Lowinger
Twitter: @gottahavesol
Instagram: _Gotta_Have_Sole_,

I got the idea to start Gotta Have Sole Foundation because of an early volunteer experience I had at a local homeless shelter. My mother took me to volunteer with her when I was 5-years old so I could see what some members of my community were going through. She wanted me to develop empathy and and also to appreciate all that I had. I met barefoot children, others who shared footwear with a family member and missed school, sports and social activities, and some children who were bullied by their peers because of the condition of their footwear. They also had lacked confidence and had low self-esteem.

I could not sit idly by and started donating my gently used clothing and footwear, but the shoes were never the right fit since they were molded to my feet and were not the size the kids needed. I vowed to someday raise money to get them the new footwear they needed.

In 2010 as I was preparing for a religious coming of age ceremony that included a community service project, I was finally able to realize my dream. Giving homeless children new, properly fitting footwear to call their own was something I had wanted to do for years and decided to open it as a business so I could continue doing so throughout my lifetime. My parents explained to me about nonprofit and helped me register it, finally receiving the 501(c)(3) number the first day of 7th grade!

I went to religious organizations, schools and businesses to ask them to hold new she drives and to contribute monetarily, and after establishing relationships with shelters in RI, I was able to give new footwear to over 400 children in RI’s homeless shelters in my first year. As my family and I traveled for awards and vacations, I expanded my program into other states, bringing the footwear with me and delivering them in-person. I contacted corporations, footwear manufacturers and private donors for monetary and footwear donations and in the past 5 years, I have raised over $500,000 in monetary and in-kind donations.

To date, with the help of over 2,700 volunteers, mostly youth, I have donated new footwear to over 24,500 homeless children in 35 states within the US. My goal is to expand Gotta Have Sole into all 50 states, helping as many homeless children as I can by the time I graduate high school in 2016. There are 7 Gotta Have Sole clubs in 5 states right now with many more on the way, run by youth leaders who not only fundraising and donating footwear to children in their local homeless shelters, but also coordinate after school athletic and social programs for the children. The clubs are designed to teach people about the true face of homelessness today and to help bridge the gap between homeless and non-homeless youth around our country.


What is your one business tip for teens?
My business tips for teens are to trust your ideas and not be afraid to act on them, even if you face obstacles. Ask for help from other entrepreneurs and get a good team of people to support you. This presents a great opportunity to learn the fundamentals of business. Engaging community and corporate support, not only will allow you to improve your communication skills but will also help you get valuable recommendations and suggestions.


What is the best part of being an entrepreneur?
The best part of being an entrepreneur is getting to make managerial decisions that best support your own idea for running your own enterprise.