Tara Burghart Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 1:00PM
Faced with extra time in the summer, some tweens babysit or do yard work for neighbors. Others hang out at the pool and complain of being bored. Two St. Charles girls have instead created their own jewelry and accessories line, along with a website, Facebook page and business cards to promote it. That makes them the very first “Go West Kids You Should Know.”
HN Designs offers darling, chic bracelets and headbands made out of strips of paper from old magazines. The girls also sell a number of colorful, cool items made from duct tape -- including iPod and iPhone cases, bookmarks, bracelets and rosettes, and wallets so intricately designed you have to think, ‘Really? You did this with duct tape?”
But once you meet the initials behind HN Designs, you realize anything is possible from these smart, sweet, hard-working girls. Haley and Nina (I’m not going to use their last names for privacy reasons) met in the fourth grade and now consider themselves best friends as they prepare to head into seventh grade in the fall.
Nina got into duct tape crafts about a year and a half ago when she asked for a “ductigami kit” for Christmas. At first she followed the instructions for items like a hat, but then she started experimenting and “It kind of turned into my own thing,” she says.
This past year, Haley and Nina, who are both 12, started spending more time together. Haley got the duct tape crafting bug, too, looking on YouTube for inspiration from a video channel created by the “Duck” brand. The idea for the magazine bracelets came from Haley’s grandmother, who showed her how she would twist old gum wrappers into chains when she was a child.
Soon, the girls were playing around with all sorts of creations, looking in books, magazines, stores and online for ideas. In addition to their duct tape and magazine products, they’ve also made some purses, including a super-cute one Haley made from an old pair of jeans, lined with -- you guessed it -- duct tape.
In June, the girls decided they needed a website, and Nina’s dad helped them find a template they liked. Then Nina used the St. Charles Public Library to produce her business cards. (I told you they were industrious.)
The products range from $2 for a duct tape bookmark decorated with stickers and words (puns are optional) to $5 for the magazine headbands and iPod cases. (The purses aren’t currently for sale.) All the items are customizable -- with the duct tape accessories, they offer everything from hot pinks and zebra prints to camouflage and plaids.
What is so impressive about these girls, and what I think many of us struggle to maintain as we get older, is their can-do spirit, their sense of possibility and of course their overwhelming creativity.
They must have said some version of “We’re still experimenting with this” nearly 10 times while I was talking with them. If they’re not happy with a piece, they just start over. When one wallet Haley created was too thick to fold, she just made it a clutch. Voila!
Both girls would love to have a career in fashion design, preferably together. Haley says she enjoys working on HN Designs because “I just like letting my imagination go .. and because my best friend is my partner.” Nina says she most enjoys it because “I’m really into crafts, and I like doing them for other people.”
As for their moms, they are happy that HN Designs encourages the girls’ creativity, allows them to work as a team with a good friend, and has taught them some real-world skills, like simple accounting principles and the basics behind operating a website.
Haley and Nina are glad they are repurposing old magazines. But they are kind of bothered that duct tape isn’t the most eco-friendly product out there. So they are donating 10 percent of their profits to the group Trees for the Future.
If you’d like to see more of their items, check out www.hndesigns.com. You can place an order, there, too. But act fast -- these girls aren’t sure how much time they’ll have for their business once school starts again the fall.
As for me, I’m holding tight onto the rosette pen they gave me as a gift -- I think someday I’ll be able to brag that I owned a Haley and Nina original creation back before they were famous!