With her product line of toeless socks, young Katelyn Lohr has stepped confidently into the world of business.
The North Delta preteen and her family are busy mailing out pairs of their Freetoes after the socks were featured last week on Dragon's Den, the CBC TV show about deal-making entrepreneurs.
"We have an incredible rush of orders, all because of her being on Dragon's Den," Karina Lohr, Katelyn's mom, told the Now on Monday.
"We're up until three in the morning working on orders - she goes to bed and keeps her parents working," Karina added with a laugh. "She's smarter than we are."
Three years ago, Katelyn wanted to wear flip-flops outside but her mother disapproved, saying it was too cold. The girl's solution to the problem was to grab a pair of socks, a pair of scissors and ask her mother if she could modify the socks by snipping off the toes.
Later, once Katelyn's "oma"(grandmother), Michelle Lohr, sewed the toe ends of the socks to prevent them from fraying, the first real pair of Freetoes hit the streets, and they were a hit.
"We went looking online and couldn't find anything like them," Karina said. "She wore them to school and all her friends wanted some. Katelyn wanted to take her birthday money and buy socks, cut the toes off, sew them and then sell them to her friends, and we encouraged her to do that. It was a business right from the minute she realized there was a demand for them."
As a business venture, the wheels for Freetoes really began turning when people stopped Katelyn in public, wanting to know where to buy a pair of her toeless socks.
Today, the socks are carried in 60 retail outlets across Canada, and online orders have come in from places like South Africa and Alaska. At $5 a pop, more than 12,000 pairs have been sold.
Katelyn's Oct. 31 appearance on an all-student version of Dragon's Den didn't result in an investment deal, but it was the exposure that counted most.
"She did awesome (on the show), and she's getting some real traction from it," said Karina, who is one proud mother.
"She's a real dynamic kid.. I think they were impressed by her knowledge of the business and her ability to answer their questions. They loved her pitch, but that's not what we were there for. We just wanted to be on the show and present the product in the best possible way. That was the value of being on the show."
Katelyn, who turns 12 this month, is taking all the attention in stride, her parents say.
"We thought this might involve a table or two at some local craft fairs, and it'd be a cute little venture into business, but it's really turned into something else here," Karina said. "We're not talking about little country markets anymore, we're talking about real retail outlets. It's mind-blowing, really." email@example.com