TENMILE — Fortitude.
Ryder Sawyer liked the sound of it when his wrestling coach told him he had it. But Sawyer, 13, didn’t exactly know what it meant, so he had to look it up.
From that compliment sprung the name of the young entrepreneurs new venture, which in turn led him to organize the inaugural Youth Vendors Fair. Sawyer and more than a dozen other young entrepreneurs participated in the event Friday behind Treats Highway 42 Café in Tenmile.
Despite his age, Sawyer has had several business ventures, which led to him bringing together other young entrepreneurs and forming Fortitude Rural Youth Entrepreneurs.
Sawyer, a seventh-grader at Camas Valley Charter School, explained how the group came to be:
“I came up with the idea because I’ve had an opportunity to sell stuff all my life because my grandparents own a café, so I’ve always interacted with the public.
“I realized that I was really lucky, that not all kids were able to do this, so I decided I would create Fortitude Rural Youth Entrepreneurs. I’m a wrestler. One of my coaches told me that I had fortitude. I didn’t even know what that meant so I looked it up. It meant mental and emotional strength and courage in whatever you do, so I decided I liked that and it was going to be the name of my business. The rest of it’s just what it is, country kids. That’s what we are and then a chance for us to be able to explore ways of developing and growing our business ideas in the rural area, so being entrepreneurs in the country.”
Siblings Logan and Maggie Dancer were also selling their wares at the youth vendor fair. Logan was selling mugs filled with candy and Maggie was selling earrings.
“We wanted to make some money and have some fun,” Maggie, 9, said.
Logan, 12, concurred. “It’s going great,” he said.
Nearby, Sydney Saylor, 13, of Lookinglass, was selling laundry soap, seeds for a vegetable garden, and broccoli, cauliflower and spinach starter plants.
“It’s a good business and I like plants,” she said. “I think it’s kind of cool to watch them grow. It’s a lot better than buying them in the store.”
Ryder said it was nice to see his idea become reality. And judging by the steady stream of people, children and adults who came to take a look and buy some goods, the event was a hit with customers too.
“I created Fortitude Rural Youth Entrepreneurs to help, inspire, encourage and promote young entrepreneurs living in the country,” he said.