6-Year-Old Entrepreneur Builds Hair Accessory Empire on Upper West Side
UPPER WEST SIDE — Lea Efran takes the phrase "young entrepreneur" to a new level.
The business gal is making money with her headband operation on the Upper West Side — and she's only 6 years old.
She has more challenges to juggle than most executives though. Alongside design and distribution logistics, Lea has to find time for school work and violin practice.
The first-grader at Speyer Legacy sells mix-and-match headbands, a business called Snazzee Apparel. The idea came to her when adding little charms, known as Jibbitz, to her Crocs to decorate them — a concept she decided to expand to headbands in December.
"I wanted some mix-and-match headbands," Lea said. "I wanted something different. I wanted it to be my own. "
Lea and her mother, Beth Efran, started crafting decorations with little snaps to attach to a cotton headband. At first, they worked out of the family home using a handheld snap machine.
The work was slow-going and laborious, and they realized after a while it was time to outsource.
That's when they hunted for help in the Garment District on West 38th Street.
"We found a guy who could put the snaps on," Lea said.
Nestor Cortes from Star Snaps now affixes snaps to Lea's designs. The headbands are ordered by Lea from a manufacturer in China.
The headbands soon caught on in a big way at Speyer Legacy.
"A lot of my friends were wearing them," Lea said. "Even the [students] in kindergarten were wearing them."
The business went to another level last month when Possibilities at Columbia, a children's gift store on Broadway between West 111th and West 112th streets, agreed to stock the headbands and decorative pieces.
The store created a display case for the products, and coached the Efrans to buy small plastic bags to keep each one clean.
Each snazzee costs between $2 to $3 to produce. Efran, a former television news director who is now focusing on writing and her family, said she is fronting the costs.
The headbands and snazzees sell for $3.50 each, and they have sold 40 so far. Efran said all the proceeds are going to her daughter's school, which is fundraising for its planned expansion later this year.
"I like that she's interested in giving back," Efran said.
The family is looking to expand the business. Efran said two other Possibilities stores, one in Brooklyn and another at West 84th and Broadway, have also agreed to carry the headband line.
The owner of Possibilities declined to comment, but Efran said the store has had to restock the display twice already. She was overjoyed with the owner's receptivity.
"Who gives a 6-year-old a chance?" the mom asked.
Lest the boys in her classes become jealous, Lea said she is planning on creating snazzee baseball caps, too. She said she has found the perfect decoration for a boy to snap onto a hat — a pirate flag.
Beyond the beauty of the sparkly hearts and crowns and bright flowers, Lea said she loves that "you can use your imagination because you can choose what you want."
Sun hats with snaps, tote bags with snaps and headbands for dolls are also in the works, she said.
It's "really awesome," Lea said of her business experience. "I couldn't imagine anything better."