Children’s Business Fair features creative products from next-gen entrepreneurs

Photo of young girl in a handmade paper hat seated at a table with a toy cash register.
Vendor Amy Buchler at the Ottawa Children's Business Fair. Supplied

Going to the market at Lansdowne this weekend? You might notice some new booths tended by some very young vendors. 

This Sunday, over 50 local youths will showcase their business ventures at the Ottawa Children’s Business Fair. Members of the public are invited to attend and purchase some unique and creative products from the minds of these young entrepreneurs.

For this one-day event, participating youths can spend weeks or even months preparing, according to Erin Anderson, founder of Revel Academy, which started the fair in 2017. 

OBJ360 (Sponsored)

This year’s vendors range in age from five to 17. 

“It’s an event that helps young entrepreneurs learn what it might be like to start a business,” said Anderson. 

For the event, the young entrepreneurs have to not only come up with an idea for a product, but prepare a thorough business plan that includes startup costs, pricing, branding and a marketing strategy. 

“If mom and dad are helping with some seed money, what is their plan for repaying them?” said Anderson. “What is success going to look like for them at the event? What is their marketing plan? All of these questions really help them learn about all the different things entrepreneurs have to think about.”

Throughout the prep period, the young entrepreneurs get to meet and chat with mentors from different industries about what makes a successful business. Vendors also learn about business regulations and how to adhere to them. Food ventures, for example, need to follow food safety standards set out by Ottawa Public Health. 

By the time the big day rolls around, they’re ready to network and pitch themselves and their products to potential customers. 

Photo of SJ Anderson behind a table with herb pots and a sign that reads "Thyme to Shine"
SJ Anderson at the booth for her business, Thyme to Shine, during the Ottawa Children’s Business Fair. Supplied

SJ Anderson, 15, who co-coordinated this year’s fair, has participated as a vendor three times. Each time, she said she learned valuable lessons that she carries into her everyday life. 

“The first year I sold Perler bead designs,” she said, referring to the popular fused bead craft. “I think I actually lost money that year. But that was a good experience. We talked about the hours spent making those things and the sweat equity that went into them only to lose money.”

The next year, she tried to strike a better balance with handmade soaps and bath bombs. But those products also took more time to make than they were worth in the end. 

In the third year, she found success with home-grown herbs. 

“I think I learned a lot from that, like a lot of sweat equity didn’t end up being as worth it as I hoped it would be,” said SJ. “I leaned towards something that I knew people around me would want. My dad’s always cooking with herbs and it was less effort than previous years if it didn’t work out.”

According to SJ, the effort put in makes the end product rewarding, regardless of the outcome. 

“There were lots of times throughout the year when I really did not want to do it,” she said. “It’s a lot of work. But when everything is finished, it’s always worth it.”

This year’s event will feature a variety of goods from creative youngsters, including woodworking, jewellery, muscle pain treatments, dog treats, gourmet marshmallows, attire and origami art. They even have a handful of young authors who will be selling their books. 

“It’s my favourite day of the year,” said Anderson. “You get to see kids who are so excited and kids who are so terrified … by the end of the day, they all say I’m so exhausted but I had so much fun.”

The Ottawa Children’s Business Fair will take place at the Lansdowne Horticulture Building Sunday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit

Get our email updates

Get up-to-date news about the companies, people and issues that impact businesses in Ottawa and beyond.