As we’ve all spent a whole lot of extra time at home during the pandemic, some people have been more productive than others.
You can count eight-year-old West Islander Adriana Jackson in the productive category. The Grade 3 student launched her own company, and business is booming.
“It’s actually flowing off the shelves,” Adriana told Global News.
With the help of her mom, Talia D’Costa, Adriana creates and sells a collection of colourful clothing and accessories.
“During the pandemic, I was very bored and I was bugging my parents so I can open my own boutique. Then, they finally said ‘yes,'” the eight-year-old recounted.
Adriana creates and sells bows, bracelets, scrunchies, t-shirts and more.
A zipper pouch with a spot for a clean mask, dirty mask and hand sanitizer has been particularly popular — 75 sold in the first three weeks they were available.
“We actually ran out of pouches very soon,” Adriana said with a smile.
According to her mother, Adriana had been dreaming of opening her own boutique for years.
“She would always talk about ‘when I’m older, I’ll have my shop, I’ll have my store,'” D’Costa said.
The accessories are a hit at Adriana’s school, St. Charles Elementary.
“The students are really excited about it. A lot of the girls are sporting the bows and the scrunchies. A lot of the students in my class had the kits where they keep their clean masks and their dirty masks,” said Adriana’s teacher Kelly Hersh.
The fuel that allows the machine to run is the love of Adriana’s grandmothers.
“My grandmothers supported me a lot and they are very proud of me, to see me make my dream come true. They love me a lot,” said Adriana.
Adriana’s maternal grandmother, Winona D’Costa, taught her to sew at an early age.
“I’m really proud of her, I can’t imagine anything better than that,” Winona said of her granddaughter using her teachings to launch the business.
Adriana’s said her father’s mother, Maureen, set her up with a sewing machine and some materials. Adriana named her boutique Winnie and Moe, in honour of her grandmothers.
Talia D’Costa said before COVID-19, Adriana would regularly spend weekends with her grandmothers and soak in all the knowledge they would share with her. Starting the business was a way of bringing back the activities they would do together.
“I guess part of missing them was missing things that she would normally do with them,” said D’Costa.
To Adriana, it’s very important to advocate for the Black community through her products. She makes “Black Lives Matter” themed bows, t-shirts and more.
When she heard about what happened to George Floyd last May, she wanted to help.
“We figured the best way for her not to feel helpless in a situation was to take them to peaceful protests,” Adriana’s mother recounted, explaining that she brought all her children to Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the West Island.
The events inspired Adriana, and she decided to donate proceeds from Black Lives Matter-themed accessories to the West Island Black Community Association.
“I felt very happy, and it felt good that I did that. It’s great to help people and to help the Black community after what happened to George Floyd,” the eight-year-old explained.
As early as kindergarten, she’s asked her parents some tough questions about race.
“She first came home and told us that she didn’t feel comfortable because she wasn’t like the rest of her class,” D’Costa recalled. “It was hard for her to understand that she was just like everyone else.”
“I don’t really have a lot of Black people in my class like me,” said Adriana.
With the help of her business, Adriana has helped start conversations at her school.
When students had to do a project about their “idol,” Adriana chose to do hers about Kamala Harris and wore a shirt that she made with a “My VP Looks Like Me” written on it.
Her teacher, Kelly Hersh, said the other students will turn to Adriana to hear her opinion during discussions about race in class.
“She’s an awesome, caring kid, I love having her as part of the class and I think she’s a really good influence on the other students in the class. They can learn a lot from each other,” Hersh said.
“People always congratulate us on her success. But look, while I think that obviously we are supportive of her, it really comes from her,” said D’Costa.
To Adriana, this is only the beginning. One day she hopes to be a big-time fashion designer. She already has a scrapbook full of ideas.