August 5, 2020 by Gabrielle Martin
Many Hingham residents' summer plans have been impacted by the ongoing pandemic; however, some Hinghamites have been using their extra time this summer to take their hobbies and interests to the next-level, by building them into a business! In this article, we’ll be focusing on three of the town’s young entrepreneurs. Each individual interviewed below has created something extraordinary, and done so locally, which is why we wanted to share their stories!
Ava Lavallee, of Wuff Drafts
Almost four years ago, Ava Lavallee (age 22) painted a portrait of a friend’s puppy for her birthday. “I had never given anyone a painting before, so the outpouring of joy came as a shock. Shortly after a family member commissioned me to do a portrait for a gift and word slowly got around,” Ava says. “For the first couple of years I completed a small number of works for a circle of friends. The more portraits I made, the more requests I received. What started as a hobby had somehow become a freelance business!”
Since then, Lavallee guesses she’s completed around 30 to 40 pet portraits. “Although the majority of my commissions have been for dogs, all pets and animals are welcome,” she shares.
So how does she do it? “I typically use a photograph, or several, as the base for my compositions. I’m adept with several mediums, such as acrylic paints, charcoal, pastels, ink, pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor. I may even suggest a particular medium, depending on the traits of the pet I am capturing.” Lavallee says she typically completes each portrait in five days or less, and pricing is dependent on size, starting at $60.
Lavallee, a recent graduate of the University of Vermont with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Public Communications, has dedicated her quarantine-imposed free time to enhancing her skills and growing her pet portrait business. She is currently based in Hingham, but offers her services to anyone on the South Shore. “My art is delivered unframed, though I may expand into that as well. The best way to contact me is through Instagram, or by text at (781) 724-4249. For local clients, I can easily offer contactless drop-off in an effort to respect the social distancing guidelines during this pandemic.”
Jack and Mackenzie Manning, of Jack and Mack Tees
Jack (19) and Mackenzie (23) Manning have started a small tee shirt business called Jack and Mack Tees: “We wanted to give people high-quality tees that they could wear out and about–to the beach, to a party–that wouldn’t break the bank.” Jack and Mack’s short sleeves sell for $25, while their long-sleeves are priced at $35. They currently offer 4 different designs on their website.
It all started when Jack was sent home from college (Miami University in Ohio) earlier this spring as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. His father offered to invest in a business idea that would keep his son occupied and engaged. Jack soon came up with the idea to sell tee shirts. He drew inspiration from the South Shore and surrounding areas, including the Boston Harbor Islands, Nantucket, and MV. These ideas were then outsourced to an artist who helped with the design. Once Jack came up with ten tee shirt ideas, he then presented his plans to his parents and sister, Mackenzie, who hopped on board to help him!
Mackenzie, perhaps better-known as “Mack,” must balance her business with Jack and Mack Tees with the responsibilities of her full-time job at International Citizens Group. Mack focuses on building the brand’s social media and web presence. She adds, “After our first two tee shirts were made with the designs from the artist we outsourced, I also took on the role of designing the shirts.”
Meanwhile, Jack deals with the sales and the finance side of the business. He works with the local print shop Jack and Mack order their tees from, as well as handling packaging, deliveries, and shipping. Mack describes how her brother will hand-deliver tees that were ordered fro, the Hingham area, and ship out all others, including out-of-state. “I think we’ve sold to people in about seven different states, which is really cool because all of our tees so far have been inspired by Massachusetts,” she says; however, they are hoping to eventually branch out from the Bay State and create designs for all of New England, so be sure to keep an eye out! After all, the holiday season is just around the corner (though, any time is a good time to rep. locally-designed and inspired apparel!).
Sienna Walsmith, of Pups in Luck
In June, Sienna Walsmith (age 9) created the business Pups in Luck, where she bakes and sells homemade dog treats. There are two types of biscuits, Puppy Peanut Butter Bites and Barking Biscuits. Sienna says she found these recipes in a dog treat book, and because her dogs loved them, she thought others would, too!
“One of my sisters helped me create a Google Form to make ordering easy, and I created a Google Slide presentation to explain the business idea.” Sienna says of how she got started. “We advertised it in a neighborhood Facebook group, and also through friends. It’s been fun!”
Still, all fun aside, Sienna has been using her business to give back: a portion of the proceeds from Pups in Luck are donated to the Scituate Animal Shelter. When I ask her about this, she says she’s already dropped an envelope off: “Yes! They were very thankful. I chose to donate to Scituate Animal Shelter since we’ve adopted some of our pets from there; they do a great job. I also know they’ve been super busy during the pandemic and have already found homes for seventy-eight animals! It feels good to support what they are doing.”
This fall, Sienna will be starting fourth grade; she is a student at East Elementary School. Her hobbies include baking, drawing, reading, playing piano, surfing, and skateboarding. She is a self-described animal lover as well as the proud owner of three fish (named Fezz, Tango, and Mango). Sienna also has two pups of her own, who are very much in luck, named Nellie and Oakley, who she says are “good taste-testers for her business!”
Sienna says her favorite part about Pups in Luck is getting messages from customers about how happy their dogs are when they are eating the treats. Since starting her business in June, she has sold over 50 bags of puppy treats–and that’s just so far! Pups in Luck is still baking treats and taking orders.
Do you know of any up-and-coming entrepreneurs around town? Want to share their story with the community? Send your suggestions to Gabrielle@HinghamAnchor.com!