The Little Entrepreneur's journey from garden herbs to market success
A few months before northern NSW got hit with severe flooding in March 2022, 7-year-old Tobias Thornton had started selling fresh herbs picked from his family's garden at the end of his driveway. When he saw the devastation from the floods on the news, he wanted to do something about it. Through his herb sales, he raised $150 that went to flood damaged schools in the Lismore region in desperate need of supplies - it was from here that his journey as The Little Entrepreneur began.
Tobias’ combination of community spirit and commercial flair are impressive for someone his age, and have resulted in him winning the 2023 Edstart Achievement Award in the Entrepreneurship category.
Fresh produce made with the community in mindUsing produce from his garden, Tobias started making chilli jams and preserves, and with his mum’s help he applied to the council for a licence to sell home made products. He now has six different products, is stocked in three stores, and has a Facebook page where he takes direct orders delivering to customers around Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.
As his business has started expanding Tobias hasn’t lost sight of his charitable roots, always putting aside 10% of his earnings to help others. Organisations that he has been able to support so far include Grainery Care, who provide emergency food relief for people that are struggling and Safe Haven Community Centre & Children’s Home in the Philippines.
The Little Entrepreneur's products have been getting recognized for their great taste as well. With no junior category to enter into at the 2023 Newcastle Show Preserves Competition, Tobias entered his products into the main competition against the adults, and won three first place ribbons, three second place ribbons and one third.
Future plansLooking to the future, Tobias has goals to keep expanding The Little Entrepreneur. He wants to grow more produce in the family garden, helping to increase output and sales and become more sustainable at the same time. Part of his expansion strategy is to start selling products at markets around Newcastle, widening his visibility and potential customer base. He also has plans to grow his product line, hoping to add at least one more offering this year.
With the help of the $1,500 Edstart award grant Tobias can cover start-up costs like insurance to start selling in the markets, as well as help him boost his marketing efforts on his Facebook page and beyond.
Tobias’ drive to grow his business comes from his passion to help others. The more sales he makes the more he can assist those in need, and maybe get himself a few toys along the way.