Colorado Springs youth making feet fashionable

Two years ago Natalie Merrill had an idea for a small business. She searched online to see if anyone had already come up with her idea.

“There wasn’t anything there,” she said.

So, she launched Buttons ‘R Knots – it’s fashion for feet, she said.

She was 10-years-old.

Today, Natalie is 12, a student at The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs, and her accessories business earned her a top award at this year’s Young Americans Center for Financial Education’s Celebration for Young Entrepreneurs contest. Natalie won $1,000 and got connected with mentor Linda Childears, President and CEO of The Daniels Fund.

This year’s competition featured 50 businesses owned and operated by youth ages 6 to 21.

“Over the past two years, my designs have gotten better and my business has improved,” Natalie said. “I have also grown in my people skills, confidence and business knowledge.”

Buttons ‘R Knots accessories are like necklaces, but instead loop onto the second toe and then around the ankle. Most customers are buying the accessories for feet, but the button jewelry can also be worn as necklaces or bracelets.

“I loved the idea of using buttons,” Natalie said.

Business is great, she said. She just added online sales and plans to hit a few holiday craft fairs in Denver and Greeley. She has made about 100 pairs of the foot accessories in the last two years and has had success at Colorado craft shows, where she could make about $150 per show, she said. Although, she said one of her biggest business challenges is finding the right craft fairs.

One pair of Buttons ‘R Knots costs $12 when ordering online and $10, “if you find me at a craft fair,” she said.

“I’ve been saving most of (the money),” she said. “It costs a lot to buy everything I need. A lot of it goes back into the business.”

Natalie uses specialty string and buttons to make her creations, and she gets design help from her mother and her grandmother.

“Some of my friends have been my models – we’ve had a few photos shoots,” Natalie said.

Natalie has already met with Childears and is planning more meetings, she said.

Natalie Merrill, 12, owner of Buttons 'R Knots, with her mentor Linda Childears, president and CEO of The Daniels Fund.

“She’ is one of the top business women in Colorado,” Natalie said. She’ll be asking Childears for business advice, she said.

“I’m hoping she can help me track my expenses,” Natalie said.

As for the award money, Natalie plans to buy a new laptop, which she can use for school and business.

“I definitely want to keep it going as long as it will go,” she said. “Maybe I will increase more online sales, more than the craft fairs — as I get into junior high and high school.”

For more information about Buttons ‘R Knots, visit buttonsrknot.etsy.com.