Hannah Altman: A 10-Year Old CEO’s Success with Pencil Toppers

| March 21, 2011 | 0 Comments

Hannah Altman is just like any 10 year old who goes to school and loves cool toys. The difference is that she is running a successful business selling these cool toys to other kids.




Hannah Altman, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, is the 10-year old President/CEO of a mini-toy business. She runs an ecommerce store called Hannah’s Cool World http://www.hannahscoolworld.com, which gained a solid following from selling pencil toppers.

Since the site became live two years ago, Hannah’s Cool World is said to have sold over 250,000 pencil toppers. Its products include Sqwishland squishy pencil tops, which are cute little animals that kids can use to decorate their pencils.

The Family that Works Together

Various studies have shown that parental success in self-employment is more likely to influence their kids to have their own entrepreneurial interests. Hannah comes from a family of entrepreneurs, with her parents running the home-based business CoolZips.com.

Started in 2007, CoolZips.com sells handmade decorative zipper pulls, charms, and other cool stuff for kids such as 3D monster car erasers. Hannah, then 6 years old, came up with the name, while her mom Lauren left her job to become a full-time mom and run the business. Mom Lauren explains how CoolZips.com started :

“CoolZips began as a simple idea when I wanted to spice up my husband’s fleece pullover. I really only planned on adding a fun charm to the zipper on his fleece, but once our six year old daughter, Hannah, got wind of the idea, she pushed for us to make a variety of zipper pull styles and try to sell them. My husband, Rick, and I had been pondering over the years about finding a creative business venture, so we decided to follow Hannah’s suggestion. Hannah came up with the name CoolZips, Rick secured the domain name, and Hannah and I began creating CoolZips.”

Dad Rick, who has been working on the business part-time, finally left his day job in May 2010 and joined the family in the business full time when the orders really took off.

CoolZips.com Products

Talent for Spotting Products that Will Sell

While the parents work on the logistics and strategy for the business, they recognize that it is Hannah’s knack for choosing products that will sell that resulted in the success of the business.

Her instincts so far have proven spot on, including the squishy pencil tops.

While eating out in a restaurant in 2009, Hannah was transfixed with the pencil toppers in the vending machine. Initially resistant, dad Rick told Hannah that it’s a waste of money. But Hannah persisted and got her pencil toppers.

Upon reaching home, Hannah asked her parents if she could open a website to sell pencil toppers. Glad to see their daughter’s interest in starting a business, they willingly obliged and created the website for her. Hannah’s Cool World was born.

The parents then bought Google pay per click ads to drive traffic to Hannah’s Cool World, and soon orders started coming in.

Today, the parents are managing partners for the parent company IBeOn LLC, which includes several sites such as CoolZips.com, Hip To The Skippy http://www.hiptotheskippy.com product line of wide band silicone bracelets, eye poppin squeezable toys Little Rascools http://www.rascools.com/, and MyGomu Erasers http://www.mygomu.com/.

The parents attend trade shows and toys events to look for other products to carry in their websites. Since Hannah is considered too young to attend trade shows, her parents simply take product brochures and catalogs with them to show to Hannah, who makes the recommendations as to what products their web businesses should carry.

As dad Rick puts it in an interview,

“About a year and a half ago, we were looking at these monster pals figurines, and I said, ‘I don’t like them.’ I thought they looked stupid and babyish, but Hannah loved them. So we ended up selling them.”

And they’ve sold thousands.

Hannah spends about five hours a week on the family business, working an hour a day after school. Her main involvement is to find new, hot products to sell. She also writes in the blog, helps in customer service issues and even fills up orders.

Yet despite the business, Hannah’s just a kid who loves being a kid.


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