• 89-year-old Grandmother Takes on Kickstarter with Happy Canes

    Photo courtesy of Marc Malkin

    Photo courtesy of Marc Malkin

    While some of us are still trying to figure out the intricacies of crowdfunding, Pearl Malkin, as reported by Parija Kavilanz in CNN Money this week, has, in her almost 9th decade, launched a campaign to raise $3,500 on Kickstarter.com for her first startup. Her business is Happy Canes. She buys old canes at Good Will stores and turns them into snappy walking sticks by decorating them with artificial flowers.

    Pearl is what my grandmother used to call a pistol. Bored with her plain black cane, she decided to glue on a few flowers. It did not take long, Kavilanz reports, for Pearl to branch out, creating different canes to match different outfits. When a close family friend visited, he suggested she turn the canes into a small business. He told Pearl about funding through Kickstarter and selling through Etsy, an online marketplace for handcrafted goods. He set her up on both sites in January, and Happy Canes now sell for $60each on Etsy. Pearl has raised $1,856 from 71 backers so far and, if she gets the full $3500, she wants to hire some helpers to create 10-20 made-to-order Happy Canes a day.

    When Kavilanz asked Pearl, “Why start a business now? The self-proclaimed rebel said, ‘I can’t sit idle and watch boring TV all day long. I want to make people happy, spread a little cheer around and maybe buy some nice shoes again.’”

    Kickstarter, for those not as much in the know as Pearl, is a crowdfunding platform for creative projects – everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Since Kickstarter’s launch in April, 2009, over $450 million has been pledged by more than 3 million people, funding more than 35,000 creative projects.

    For more startup funding info, check this Forbes Beginners Guide.

    In the meantime, take a peek at Grandma Pearl’s Happy Canes in her Etsy shop.

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