by Claire Marie Porter
Teen entrepreneurs Shayna Kaye and Olivia Odike started their company Apollow Pillow in May. They make and sell colorful, quirky pillows, and donate a pillow to a child through the Ronald McDonald House for each one sold.
The 14-year-olds met while attending Philadelphia’s chapter of Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), a year-long program that teaches middle and high school students to be “creative thinkers, innovators and entrepreneurs,” says Ellen Fisher, executive director of Young Entrepreneurs Academy.
During the course the young aspiring business owners meet for a few hours per week in the Greater Philadelphia area, and learn everything there is to know about startups, including writing and pitching a business plan, securing funding and registering their businesses.
“The magic of YEA! is that it teaches kids to believe in themselves, to think big and to understand that they can achieve anything they set their minds to,” says Fisher.
“I like sleeping and resting with pillows,” says Kaye, “and we thought it’d be really nice to make other people nice pillows.”
Kaye currently sews and stuffs all the pillows by hand, but intends to outsource if it becomes too much for her.
“It was wonderful to watch how she took on all of the parts of the business plan with such dedication to detail and frugally watched costs,” said Fisher of Kaye.
“I enjoyed the cause we are donating to and I love the idea of making fun and colorful pillows,” says Odike. “I think pillows are a simple but fun thing to make.”
Odike markets the pillows and manages their social media accounts, while also contributing to the creative process.
“Every company needs an Olivia,” says Fisher. “She is a creatively-centered individual who gets things done.”
They use recycled fabric, donated from stores who like what they’re doing, says Kaye. Two of those stores include The Handwork Studio in Narberth and Gaffney Fabrics in Germantown.
“[They give] things they’re not using anymore,” she says. “So we have a fabric supply.”
Each pillow is $25, and the patterns range from “Purple Polka Pillow,” a bold spotted design, to “House Pillow,” a fabric collaged with houses. Kaye’s favorite design is the “Doggy Pillow,” “because we got this really fun dog fabric,” she says.
So far they have sold about 30 pillows.
“My favorite part of the pillow-making process is picking the fabric and putting together the fabric combinations,” says Odike.
The girls chose the name “Apollow Pillow” for it’s fun alliterative qualities, but also for the god Apollo.
“Apollo was the Greek god of healing,” says Kaye. Which she said spoke to them because of their altruistic mission.
“We added a ‘W’ to make it more like pillow,” she says.
“My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is being able to own your own business and make decisions for yourself.” says Odike. “I can say that it is my business and feel proud of all the hard work I put into it.”
Order your own at apollowpillow.org