BUSINESS SUCCESS STORIES
Vita Bona Jewelry
When Madeline Black walks into a jewerly-making class this month, she'll be one of the youngest people in the room.
And she's the teacher.
Even before she can drive without her parents in the car, she will lead a class on making bracelets, earrings and necklaces before her 16th birthday on Jan. 23.
It's just one part of her small business, which also makes repairs or altercations to jewelry and gives her an outlet to sell her creations.
She calls her business Vita Bona Jewelry, which means "beautiful life" in Latin -- part of her philosophy on jewelry.
"I feel like jewelry can reflect your inner beauty," said Madeline, a town of Washington resident. "It's not all about what you look like on the outside."
Madeline began making jewelry six years ago when she took a class at UW-Eau Claire's Summer Institute. Two years later, she was asked to share her knowledge by teaching 4-H classes.
"It was just a new thing to try," she said.
During this past summer Madeline took the next step toward becoming a full-fledged business. She created a detailed business plan for a contest for young entrepreneurs in the Eau Claire area.
She spent two weeks writing up the plan that identified her expenses, what supplies she would need, a customer base, the number of classes she would teach and what competition she had in the area.
Out of 30 applicants, Madeline's proposal won a $500 grant from the Western Dairyland Economic Opportunity Council that she has used for tools, beads and other supplies.
"That $500 was a wonderful gift to get things started," said Madeline's mother, Barbara.
Madeline even has applied for a tax identification number for Vita Bona, which is needed if the business is to grow larger and earn a profit.
Credit: Andrew Dowd, Leader-Telegram