Local teens get down to business––creating their own companies
Sabrina and Alexa Amoriello started a homemade dog food business in their Katonah home and have since rented kitchen space in Briarcliff to meet the increasing customer demand.
Photo Rana Faure
What do dog food, geotags, and t-shirts have in common? They are all businesses started by local entrepreneurial teens.
Katonah’ s Alexa (15) and Sabrina (11) Amoriello, founders of Heelers dog food, simply started making food for their picky Australian Cattle dog, and now personally deliver homemade chow to 80 canine clients throughout Westchester and Fairfield Counties, and even Manhattan.
“We realized that what we were giving our dog wasn’t really healthy,” Alexa remembers. “So, we worked with a dog nutritionist because we wanted the best. We wanted to give our dog healthy, local food.”
Last Christmas, the Amoriello sisters approached their father with the idea of turning this into a business. He agreed to help, recognizing that in the process they’d learn about entrepreneurship. They’ve already learned entrepreneurship isn’t always glamorous—it takes two and a half hours to cook 50 pounds of food, and they are the cooks.
“Our recipe is a combination of oats, green beans, sweet potatoes, eggs, egg shells, chicken or beef, and olive oil,” Sabrina describes. “We steam all of the food in a commercial kitchen in Briarcliff that we got through a friend.”
They make deliveries Wednesday through Saturday, and the girls like the hands-on approach. They meet their customers, hear stories about their food, and receive pictures of happy, healthy animals.
Amy Courtney explains that she found Heelers while searching for a home-cooked food for her dog who has a liver condition. “After reading the company’s bio, it was clear that we were dealing with mature teens who were driven and, most importantly, had done their research.”
Drew Sandler, a 16-year-old Katonah resident, stumbled into his geotag business, Social Graphix, in a similar fashion. (A geotag is a sticker in Snapchat that identifies your location.) Approximately two years ago, Sandler recognized that Katonah didn’t have a geotag, so he made one. Next, he noticed that John Jay High School didn’t have one either; he made another. Both were done just for fun, but others took notice.
“The first person who asked me to make a geotag was a camp friend who was running for student council,” he recalls. “I made a vice president tag for the day of elections. While a location tag stays forever, an event tag is created for a certain day or time. That day, everyone who used their phones had the option to choose her geotag.”
People began to request that he create tags for football games or specific events, and once people understood they could have a custom design, his business increased.
“It was the easiest process ever,” says Ivy Braun of hiring Sandler to create a geotag for her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. “Gemma said she wanted to do a geotag, and it was very last minute. He asked me for the logos and what we wanted it to say, and the next thing we knew, we had a geotag. There wasn’t a kid at the party who didn’t know about the geotag. As soon as we mentioned it, they all had it.”
Made by Mollz
Molly Moore, a 19-year-old Pound Ridge resident and sophomore at East Carolina University, began Made by Mollz when she decorated her freshman dorm room. She started selling hand-sewn pillows with Greek letters to new sorority girls, and the business took off, with requests for pillows, shirts, and more. As her business expanded, she began to sell online. But, she immediately hit a hurdle.
“I posted my sweatshirts to a Facebook group, and one of them had 200 comments,” Moore remembers. “However, one commenter said she had to remove my post because I wasn’t Greek licensed. I then learned I need a separate license for each sorority and an LLC. Now I have six licenses, and I plan to get more.”
Molly recently chose to change her major to business, with a fashion merchandising minor. She’s already found this useful, receiving help from a professor to build her e-commerce website.
“During football season, I was making a lot of different t-shirts,’” she says. “I had people texting me that I didn’t even know. They would say, ‘I don’t know you, but I have nothing to wear to the game. Can you make me a shirt?’”
Clayborne Loizou, a roommate and customer, has watched Moore’s business grow, and admires her work ethic. “She’s very professional,” Loizou explains. “She has all of the equipment in our living room, and when she gets an order she does it right away. She also takes care in how she packages things that require shipping.”
Moore says she’s “hit a hot market” and knows she will continue with Made by Mollz throughout college. She’s already contemplating her expansion once she graduates.