My Daughter’s Latest Business Venture (A Car Wash? That’s So Last Year!)

This is another post from my 12-year-old daughter, Nina.

Hi everyone! My dad asked me if I would write another article to tell you about my latest accomplishments so far in 2012.

My last post received a lot of attention because it was put on MSN’s Smart Spending blog. I was very excited when that happened and it made the end of 2011 a memorable one for me. If you remember, in that post I explained how I started up a car washing business so I could save up to buy a laptop.

But guess what? This past Christmas I received a Macbook Air — lucky (and spoiled) me! The only catch was that my mom and dad made me pay for more than half of it. I had to chip in $600 of my own money.

So how did I do that? Easy! I already had $130 from my car wash business, and I received about $300 in Christmas cash from my aunts and uncles and grandparents.

Since Christmas, I have paid $520, and I only have $80 left to go!

So how am I making my money now?

The car wash is long gone. I admit, I kind of quit. Don’t call me a slacker, but I became very busy on Saturdays, and the jobs slowly disappeared.

Now, I’m making money a different way: duct tape. Yes, you heard me. Duct tape!

Some people say duct tape was originally used by the military, and then people later began using it for heating ducts (hence the word “duct”).

I have multiple colors of duct tape, including red, green, blue, purple, a reindeer pattern, zebra print, black, and white.

With the tape, I now make wallets. The first wallet I made was a black and purple one for my brother. It was terrible. (Hey, it was my first time!) But after a few tries, I eventually got the process down perfectly.

I made a blue bi-fold with a white stripe. The inside had one ID slot with clear plastic, and three white card pockets with black trim. I gave that one to my friend.

I also made a woven neon wallet, with five card pockets, an ID slot, and a hidden pocket. Here is a picture of what it looks like:

I brought them to school and my wallets became a huge hit! I started getting orders for multiple wallets. After a while, I decided to start selling them for $5 each. One time I made $20 in a single day.

I then found a new way to make wallets. By taping two bi-fold wallets together, I was able to make a woman’s wallet. It had twice the card pockets, and money slots. I charge $5 extra for those. I’ve sold two of them so far.

Along with duct tape wallets, I’m now also making polymer clay charms. Polymer clay is a bakeable clay that comes in many colors. So far, I have made about 25 mini charms. Some of my favorites so far are: a toilet paper roll; a Popsicle; a burrito; some animal cupcakes (a duck, a panda, and an octopus); a fortune cookie; a fishbowl; and a baby rainbow-rings toy. Here is a picture of what I have made so far:

I haven’t sold any yet because I’m not sure how to price them. But in the future, I hope to sell them too!

So that’s what I’m doing now. I’m just trying to stay creative, keep my mind busy, and get some extra money in the process.

I love both hobbies, and I hope to continue in the future!

If you would like a custom made wallet, email my dad.

See you all soon!

Photo Credit: Nina Penzo


  1. 3


    Nina, brilliant. When I was in 6th grade I noticed all the girls were collecting stickers. So I dragged my mom to the mall, bought a ton of stickers (4 sheets to a pack for $0.50 at the time) and sold them for $0.25 a sheet in school. Doubled my money in profit for a few months until I got tired of it.

    The upshot is that when you want to earn money, you can. Thinking expansively helps, and it’s clear you’ve done that.

    Love the wallets. The mini-charms might go over really well if you sell them in conjunction with your school. Offer to split the profit with the school to put towards books and materials. The school wins, and you profit. Just a thought.

  2. 4

    tracee says

    What a great idea! I love the wallets but I really love the mini charms. I bet you could get at least 3 dollars each. After you pay off your laptop do you have a new savings goal?

  3. 5

    nansuelee says

    Great ideas Nina. I can see the little charms as a zipper pull but it is cold here in Iowa in the winter, you may not wear a coat as much in California! They could also be hung and collected on a backback, resulting in multiple sales from the same person!

  4. 6

    Sue says

    Nina, you are so creative! I can see a market for the wallets, but I think you may have a real hit on your hands with those charms. They are adorable!

    I would start selling them at your school for a buck a pop and see if your classmates will buy them for that much. I like the zipper pull idea too! If you are selling to adults, I bet you may be able to get even more for them!

    I love your entrepreneurial spirit! And you’re only 12!

  5. 7


    Wow, Nina, that’s very impressive! That’s very mature of you to be so entrepreneurial at such a young age. Keep it up and you’ll go really far in in life!

    You should be really proud, Len!

  6. 10

    Diane says

    Len, obviously you are instilling great values in your daughter, and she seems to be a willing and industrious student!! Talent, creativity, and willing to work hard – you should indeed be proud.

  7. 13

    Nina says

    @Cashflowmantra Thanks!
    @Jay s. Fleischman That’s really cool! I’ll put the idea into consideration! :-)
    @Tracee Thanks,Tracee! Once I pay off my laptop, I’m thinking on just saving for some more supplies!
    @Nansuelee That’s a really good idea! I never thought about doing that! That is definitely something I will take in mind!
    @Sue Thank you so much! I agree, the zipper idea is a good one! The charms for a dollar seems very reasonable! :)
    @Dollardisciple Thank you! And yeah, Dad… be proud! :)
    @Bret@Hopetoprosper Thank you, Bret!
    @Krantcents Thank you!

  8. 14


    That’s awesome; my son wants to make things out of Legos and sell them. I said that’s a great idea. He should buy them in bulk and pay other kids to make stuff, mark it up and sell it. I started talking scale, outsourcing, margins and his eyes glossed over. OK, so we went back to him having me pay 10 bucks for a lego kit so he can build something and sell it to a friend for $1. I guess it’s the learning experience that counts!

    • 15

      Len Penzo says

      I’ve been teaching Nina to include the value of her time and the materials required to make her wallets. She’s still at that age though where the final price isn’t all that important to her yet. It’s still more of a fun hobby for her and any thing she earns she sees as just icing on the cake.

  9. 16

    Toni M (Peaches) says

    Hello Nina (Len)

    Because I known your Mother, it does not surprise me that you are being raised with values, morals, and creativity.
    I always knew she would be an awesome mother and wife. I am positive that you and your brother will be great adults in the world when it is your time to shine. Keep it up. Your making everyone that had a part in your lives proud.

  10. 17


    Love your clay charms! Wonder if they are compatible with Pandora bracelets? Pandora charms start at $25 and range all the way up to $845, although the quality is slightly better than home-made clay. I think your toilet paper roll could compete though! That is awesome.

  11. 22

    Nina says

    @DarwinsMoney What a great idea! Tell your son to keep going with the Lego business, and good luck! :)

    @Toni M (peaches) Thank you so much, Toni! I’m hoping to meet you sometime soon!! :)

    @Matt Thank you! Sadly, they aren’t compatible with Pandora charms. Pandora charms have a hole that goes through the center of the bead, while mine has an eye pin that is able to slide onto a bracelet, or chain necklace!

    @Betsy22 Thank you!!

    @Pam at money trail Thank you so much!

    @Rose Loden Thank you so much Rose! I love you too! :)

    @Courtney Thanks! I have thought about opening an Etsy, but once I get better at the clay and wallets!

  12. 23

    Jessica says


    I love your charms! I don’t know if you’re familiar with Juicy Couture (if not, your dad is going to hate me for mentioning it because it can become an addiction ~ take it from this 29 year old addict), but they sell charms similar to yours for a lot of money. I think you should get some cute chains or wire (or maybe ribbon?) and put together a few bracelets or necklaces to show people how the charms can make a one-of-a-kind creation, and also let people buy the bracelet/necklace and charms individually to make their own unique statement. Go get ’em, girlie! :)

  13. 24


    Nina, when you figure out a price for the charms, please let me know. I’ll buy at least one and pay for the shipping costs (of course). They are so cute! And you are quite the entrepreneur.

  14. 25

    Nina says

    @Jessica Yes I am VERY aware of Juicy Couture… My best friend is an addict actually. Her pack pack is an over sized Juicy Purse. That is a really good idea! I’m totally going to do that soon!!!

    @Karen Datko Hi Karen! My charms are $2 a piece! Thank you so much! :)

  15. 27

    kimberlyjoseph says

    I must say a very well compiled post on the important legal, financial and operational preparations that a car wash startup needs to take before it launches. Once start-ups do get finished with all these activities, there is another big challenge waiting for them and that is to get noticed, get the word out to gain visibility, and win clients and retain them.

    Ask any successful business startup and they will tell you, the first stride towards success starts with creating a corporate identity — knowing your target audience very well and then composing a message that speaks uniquely to them. And the first creation of that attempt is almost always a professional logo.

    Having a good logo is essential, especially when using it on signs.


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