By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
WILLINGTON – While most 14-year-olds are hanging out in the local mall with friends and spending hours on social media, LaRissa McLaurin has been creating hats, shoes and pins.
LaRissa was one of the youngest vendors to participate in The Melanin Market Experience at Millcreak Park in Willingboro on Saturday, July 13. Her products were all handmade with attention to detail, standing out in the crowd of more than 150 booths.
The sophomore-to-be at the Burlington County Institute of Technology (BCIT) said that she has her older sister Chere to thank for getting started in her creative endeavors.
“This is something I like to do on my free time,” McLaurin said. “I first got (the creative bug) from my sister. She taught me how to make headbands. Afterwards, I advanced to my headbands and added more designs to it. Now I make hats, shoes and pins.”
LaRissa looking around with tent-after-tent of vendors, said it was like a dream come true to sell her hat bands and other items to the customers at The Melanin Market.
“It’s like shocking. I never envisioned myself being out here,” LaRissa said. “Customers come (to my booth) and ask, ‘What is this?’ Then I tell them what it is and how I make it. It makes me happy to see someone else who is happy about what I’m doing. It makes people feel good.”
LaRissa ran her booth under the watchful eye of her mother Carla McLaurin. She said she is proud of how her daughter has taken on creating her own business and was willing sell her products the way other adult entrepreneurs were doing t the market.
“She’s been following her sister and was inspired by it,” Carla McLaurin said. “She took one step at a time. This time we added much more where she started with just the headband. I want her to learn the hard work and spirit it takes to do a small business.
“As parents, if we can all get our kids involved in something positive and support them, that’s a good thing. I feel anything I can do to help them, I’m 100 percent here to support them,” she added.
Carla McLaurin said that people can find her daughter’s designs on Facebook and Instagram and hopes she continues to sharpen and refine her creations.
“I’m very proud of my daughter,” Carla McLaurin said. “It shows here that hard work pays off. I want her to continue to go forward.”
For LaRissa, she praised her mother for the time she spent inspiring her.
“I want to give my mother credit,” she said. “If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here right now.”
All Photos by Meredith Winner, Mer-Made Photography