UPPER WEST SIDE — She's taking a page from Martha Stewart's book — at just 7 years old.
Lea Efran — a pint-sized entrepreneur who launched a headband line while still in the first grade — is diversifying her budding accessories empire in time for the start of the school year.
Lea has introduced specially decorated boys and girls backpacks to her burgeoning business, Snazzee Apparel, which she started last spring after deciding she wanted to create mix-and-match headbands whose adornments could be changed by snapping on a new decoration.
While other kids were pool-hopping, Lea spent much of the summer in business mode, readying the new products.
"We were covered in paint all summer," said her mother, Beth Efran, who has encouraged Lea to pursue her line as long as it holds her interest.
The backpacks, which the Efran family bought for $10 each, are covered in decorations that Lea hand-painted or bought in the Garment District. They're being sold for $26 at Possibilities, a toy and decorations store near Columbia University. The retailer has supported Lea's company by featuring her wares at its flagship store, as well as its West 84th Street and Park Slope locations.
"If no one gives these young people a chance, how will they market their products?" said Nasir Aziz, the owner of Possibilities.
Aziz added he's had customers stream in from Lea's school, Speyer Legacy, looking for her items.
"She's absolutely one of a kind," said Aziz, who said he hasn't encountered any other young entrepreneurs like her. "They are very few and far between, and I was lucky to select one of them."
Snazzee Apparel has a following among young girls on the Upper West Side — and Lea was even able to sell a handful of wares in Maine while on vacation there — but she's nonetheless looking to expand and get more exposure.
This summer, Beth and Lea Efran met with the Columbia University Small Business Association to get pro-bono advice on how to reach Lea's goals.
"I thought I should make it a little bit of a bigger business and start making more Snazzee stuff," Lea said.
With the association and her mom's help, she put together a business plan and even started to grasp the idea of profits and losses.
Snazzee Apparel has cost the family a couple thousand dollars to get up and running — about the same price of enrolling Lea in some other type of enrichment class outside of school, her mom reasoned.
Any money they make from sales goes directly to Lea's school, a decision that teaches her about the need to give back, Efran explained.
"It's been an incredible investment. It's empowering [for Lea]," Efran said.
With school now in full swing, Lea has less time for painting and making accessories — but that doesn't mean the idea mill has slowed. She's on a kick about fall colors, specifically black and orange decorations for Halloween-themed headbands.
And her creativity is being further sparked at a fashion class she's taking Downtown.
For other kids interested in launching businesses, Lea said it's important to know how to talk about your product and express what it is you're selling.
"You have to know public speaking," she said.
The business has changed the way Lea sees herself and what she's capable of, her mother noted.
"What 7-year-old walks by and sees her stuff in the windows?" Efran said.