Gallant Kids Spotlight: Ariela Leff
While traveling with her family to New York in the summer of 2021, Ariela Leff, who was 11 at the time, was inspired to start a business selling bracelets. The sixth grader from Southern California says, “I just found these new cool beads and I thought it would be fun to make bracelets, so I started making them!”
With help from a local nonprofit that aims to help kids learn about financial literacy, public speaking and basic business skills, Ariela started Lulu’s Bracelets and began to sell her bracelets on Instagram and at a local hair salon.
Ariela wanted to do something for the community with the sale of her bracelets. “I didn’t just want to sell bracelets and keep the money, so I decided to donate to a good cause,” she explains. Ariela decided to donate 50% of her profits to the Pet Encounter Therapy program at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, California.
“I just love animals and this just felt right for me,” she says of her decision to support the PET program with donations. The money Ariela raises makes it possible for hospitals or children’s centers to arrange therapy pet visits for their patients or community members.
“Pet Encounter Therapy makes me feel really excited because it means a dog gets to visit somebody in the hospital and it makes me really happy to see everybody happy with animals,” Ariela says.
“Pet Encounter Therapy makes me feel really excited because it means a dog gets to visit somebody in the hospital.”
But, running a small business and juggling the responsibilities of sixth grade isn’t always easy. Ariela says, “It’s really hard when I have a lot of homework. But what really motivates me is when I think about what I’m doing, I feel happy. It’s just something to be joyful about.”
Learning the ins and outs of small business management has been eye-opening for Ariela — especially when it comes to budgeting. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is about spending my money wisely on supplies!” she says.
Ariela also has advice for kids who are thinking about starting their own small businesses.
“I didn’t just want to sell bracelets and keep the money, so I decided to donate to a good cause.”
“I would tell them to do it for them, not to do it just because your parents tell you to do it. Do it to make you happy,” she explains. “I would also say to be cautious in a way of what you’re doing so that you kinda aren’t just all over the place and get disorganized. It’s really easy to get disorganized when you are running a small business, and that can get stressful.”
To date, Ariela has made 133 bracelets and raised $500 for the PET program. “My goal is to raise up to $1,000 so I can get a lot of pets to go see people in the hospital,” she says.
Ariela is not only proud of her mission to support pet therapy but also that she’s learning how to run a creative business. “I am most proud of the bracelets that I have handmade,” she says. “I am just really surprised that I could do all that while juggling school and all of my activities.”