Camryn Green isn’t old enough to drive or vote, but that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing big dreams. The 13-year-old sells her own artwork, is the author of a children’s book and helps support a teen in Liberia. She was invited to speak at the 38th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Prayer Breakfast in Raleigh last month. Camryn, an eighth-grader at Thales Academy in Rolesville, talks about how she juggles it all and offers some advice for other young entrepreneurs.
Q: You started selling your artwork five years ago. How did you become an entrepreneur at 8 years old?
A: I always wanted to be an artist. I’ve been painting since I was 4, although I’ve never taken any art classes. One day I just stopped the color-by-number painting, got out a canvas and painted freehand, and it actually looked pretty good.
We (my mom and I) made a Facebook page and orders started coming in, so we started Camryn’s Creations.
Q: How many pieces have you sold, and what’s the price range?
A: About 500. Paintings range from $20, our smallest size, to our biggest, which is $100.
Q: What are you doing with the money?
A: Some of it’s going into a college fund, some goes back into the business, and I also give back to the orphans in Liberia whose parents have died and they can’t afford to go to school.
Q: What made you choose to support that cause?
A: I have a friend from Liberia, and his mom has always told me how bad it was for the orphans. Since I was little, I always wanted to help them, so when I started my business I immediately wanted to do something.
I’ve been able to sponsor a yearly scholarship for a young lady named Princess for two years, and we’re doing it this year too. It’s $300 a year. She’s 13, too. I really want to go to Liberia to visit her. She sent me an outfit – a Liberian outfit and I love it – and I sent her a necklace and one of my paintings.
Q: How did you get invited to speak at the MLK breakfast?
A: I didn’t know about the breakfast. I went to school one day, and my mom entered me into the contest. I came home and learned they’d picked me to speak.
Q: What did you talk about, and what was it like?
A: It was a message about my business and everything I do. My mom actually helped me write it.
It was such an honor to speak for such an important man. He helped us have our civil rights as African-Americans. If he was alive, I hope he would be proud of me. It was life-changing. Everyone at school was like, “Good job Camryn, I’m so proud of you.”
Q: Wanting to give back and helping other people – where does that come from?
A: My mom. She’s always giving back and helping others follow their dreams. She’s a leader for me, and she helped me with my business and made me want to give back.
Q: What is your favorite thing to paint? What inspires you?
A: I love painting African art, African-Americans and people in general. I have an Afro so I love painting Afros. I get my ideas from nature itself. I paint the beautiful sunsets when we go to the beach. I also get my inspiration from other African artists.
Q: What’s the best thing you’ve learned?
A: How to work hard. I have to work hard consistently to manage my business. Even when I don’t feel like painting, I still have to do it. I’ve been rewarded with all the money, being able to give back to the kids and multiple entrepreneur awards.
Q: You’ll start high school next year. Any new ambitions?
A: I’d really like to have my own TV show called “Camryn’s World” where I travel around the world helping other kids become entrepreneurs and follow their dreams.
Q: Any advice for other kids who’d like to be entrepreneurs?
A: Set a goal for yourself first. I set a goal to make at least 10 paintings. I was 8; I didn’t know much about it. Work hard, be consistent with it, and don’t give up on your dreams.
Know someone who would make a good Tar Heel of the Week? Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camryn Green – Tar Heel of the Week
Born: Nov. 30, 2004
Business: Camryn’s Creations
Her book: She wrote “Think It, Believe It, Do It”
Awards: Youth Entrepreneur of the Year for ACHI Magazine (publication of Women Supporting Women Association); Most Creative & Innovative Business & Shopper’s Choice Award from Triangle Children’s Business Fair