GCPS Student Entrepreneurs Hit the News

http://www.timesdispatch.com/business/retail/biz-buzz-goochland-youths-have-taste-for-success/article_02c83799-9701-5f93-970e-41278f876d5c.html

Brandon Myrick is starting his sophomore year at Goochland High School. His sister Rachel is starting eighth grade at Goochland Middle School.

And they are both starting a business with a product they developed.

The business, whimsically named Do-Da Innovations, sells ketchup and mustard packaged and marketed for children.

Their brands — Ketchup Crayon and Mustard Marker — are available at the Whole Foods stores in West Broad Village in Henrico County, Charlottesville and Virginia Beach and at Good Foods Grocery at Gayton Crossing, Libbie Market, Nadolski’s Butcher Shop in Goochland and the ChiknEgg farmers market held on Saturdays off Broad Street Road in Goochland.

The business sprang from a father-daughter conversation in 2009 when Tom Myrick, whose inventions include tools for NASA’s Mars rovers, challenged Rachel to invent something of her own.

Rachel, 9 at the time, proposed a bottle that would let her draw pictures with ketchup.

Mom Karron Myrick, whose résumé includes marketing work with the Coppertone brand, did some research and found that a major manufacturer in the 1980s unsuccessfully had tried marketing to kids with odd-colored ketchup.

Mom (her title with Do-Da is chief executive mentor) wondered if sticking with red ketchup and yellow mustard, and marketing the condiments as visual art elements, would have broader appeal.

She turned her children loose on the project. They experimented with different bottles small enough for children’s hands. Brandon came up with the prototypes of the smiling faces that are the labels for Ketchup Crayon and Mustard Marker.

There were practical tests. Would the low-sodium ketchup pass taste tests by middle-school classmates? Would it still taste good after six months in the fridge? Would kids have fun with the “crayons” and “markers?” Yes, yes and yes.

Major condiment companies weren’t interested in making a test batch, but the family found a maker, Ashman Manufacturing of Virginia Beach, to do a “small” run of 10,000 units.

On June 29, the products went on sale at the Whole Foods in Henrico. A marketing staffer at the store said Ketchup Crayon and Mustard Marker sales have moved near the top of the store’s condiment brands.

Brandon and Rachel have helped by working as in-store demonstrators, drawing with ketchup and mustard and offering taste samples with mini-hot dogs and hamburgers cooked on site.

Charlottesville’s Whole Foods picked up the brands. Last week, the Virginia Beach store said it, too, would carry them.

Karron Myrick said the company has sold close to 10 percent of its products so far.

Later this year, Do-Da Innovations will add a third product, maple syrup to be sold as Pancake Pencil. In the pipeline are more products, not to be revealed until the trademarks are registered.

Both siblings said they love art. Brandon runs cross country and plays tennis. He said Do-Da’s short-term goal is to sell the business. He’d like to be a software designer someday.

Rachel, who plays soccer and the piano, is keeping her options open. “I have my childhood to live,” she said.

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