Sisters, entrepreneurs and budding philanthropists Shyla and Anaiya show off a few of the products they make through their business, Ana ‘N Shy, which donates 50% of its profits to charities like ChildFund.
Anaiya, 11, and Shyla, 15, are two ordinary sisters from California, but they’re transforming the way people in their community think about young entrepreneurs – and giving back to other kids in the process. Half of the profits they earn selling handmade gifts through their business Ana ‘N Shy are donated to ChildFund and other nonprofit organizations. In fact, the girls sponsor two children through their business, Kokila in India and Magret in Sierra Leone.
We sat down with Anaiya and Shyla to learn more about how their unique business got started and what motivates them to support ChildFund. Enjoy the conversation, and be sure to remember their names: These girls are going places.
ChildFund: First off, please tell us a little bit about yourselves. We’d love to know more about your small business, how you got started and why you all do what you do!
Anaiya and Shyla: We are two sisters who love to help those in need, whether they are humans or animals. Through our business, we sell homemade soaps, candles, cards and other products and donate half of the profits to charity. We started our business almost five years ago to give to those who have less than us.
It was October 2017, and wildfires were spreading where we live in California. At the time, we were 6 and 10 years old. Thousands of animals had lost their homes to these fires, and being animal lovers, we couldn’t just sit there and do nothing – so we decided to do something. The holidays were coming up, so we decided to use our arts and crafts skills to make greeting cards and sell them to our family, friends and neighbors.
Over the course of a few weeks, we ended up selling almost $400 worth of cards and donated all of it to charities to help animals. It was an amazing feeling to know that we were making a difference, and we wanted to be able to do this more often, so we started thinking of a more sustainable way to make donations. That’s how our business was born.
That’s amazing! And we know that since then, you all have donated more than $4,300 to charity – in addition to sponsoring two kids through our organization. Do you ever find that people are surprised to learn that two kids are running their own successful business?
Definitely. Being a young entrepreneur is a bumpy road. Sometimes, adults don’t take us seriously because we are “just kids.” Every time we set up booths, whether at farmer’s markets, artist fairs or business fairs, customers find it hard to believe that we run our business.
It’s hard to hear “no,” but also very important because it teaches us how to take feedback, overcome rejection and keep going. Though it has its challenges, being an entrepreneur this young also gives us the chance to earn and learn to spend, save and invest, as well as use our money to help others. Entrepreneurship teaches us a lot of life skills that would be useful as adults, like understanding people's needs, creating solutions and learning how to influence and negotiate.
And now, thanks to your business, other kids can learn these skills too! Do you remember how you first discovered ChildFund? There are countless nonprofits out there – why us?
Yes! One ordinary evening, we were going out to get groceries. As we walked past a CVS, we noticed a table outside. There were two people there, seemingly advertising something. As we took a closer look, the people began telling us about ChildFund. We were delighted to hear about all the good your organization is doing!
We really wanted to support ChildFund. We were especially excited at the idea of exchanging letters and gifts with the children we’d be supporting. So we signed up.
And how has the experience been so far?
It has been really neat to connect with kids on the other side of the world. One of the most memorable moments was when we got our first letters from Kokila and Magret. We waited eagerly to receive our first letters. When we clicked the “open letter” button, it filled our hearts with excitement and happiness. Learning all about them and what their favorite colors, foods and hobbies are has been very exciting!
Seeing the impact we are making through the letters is very gratifying, and it makes us feel like we are really making a difference. We love sharing about what we did on holidays and what our favorite colors, meals, games and hobbies are. We like getting to know them and learning about their day-to-day lives. Hearing from them is always something we look forward to. It gives us a chance to learn about a different culture and lifestyle.
What motivates you to keep giving back?
Every time we get a letter from Kokila or Magret, it fills our hearts with joy and love to know that we are helping them. The joy that we get is incredibly heartwarming, and it makes us want to help more people again.
Inequality is an unfortunate reality in our world. However, inequality also brings out the opportunity for people to show their compassion and care. It is a reason for people to give to others who have less. We feel like our sponsorship is definitely helping with this problem. We aren’t changing the entire world, but we are changing the world of a few people for the better.
You are living examples that the world needs to listen to what young people have to say. What’s one thing you think a lot of adults don’t understand about being a kid? If you could send one message to all the adults of the world, what would it be?
Don’t underestimate kids. We can make a big difference. Since we are kids, our creativity has less limits, so we can truly think outside the box and come up with unique ways of solving problems and helping people.