NAME: The Bunbury family
BUSINESS: What’s Popping A,V.E.
LOCATION: Durham, N.C.
Amaya Bunbury has a clear vision for her family’s popcorn business.
“We hope in the next few years to definitely have a shop,” she said. “And maybe 10 years from now we hope to have a franchise.”
By then, Amaya would be fresh out of college; she’s only 14 now.
Amaya runs What’s Popping A.V.E. with her sister Violet, 9, and brother Ethan, 6. The A.V.E. could be short for “avenue” and it would make sense but it really represents the initials of the three siblings.
The clever name is the first clue that this business is more well thought out than your average kids’ business. The popcorn comes in a wide variety of flavors, including unusual flavors like caramel cashew, lemon pepper and “sweet heat.” The business has its own logo. The product comes in containers made of biodegradable rice paper to appeal to the environmentally conscious.
What’s Popping, though only a few months old, seems like it’s already on its way to success. At the Children’s Business Fair in Raleigh, N.C., in early October of 2018 the bags were flying off the table; with the day drawing to a close, they had sold about 70 bags at $4 each.
Of course, the kids did not create a business like that without help from their parents. The biggest boost Sherwin and Tanika Bunbury might have given their children is motivation. The couple, who live in Durham, N.C., and are both clinical researchers and have always stressed the importance of entrepreneurship.
“I always say to them that they need to be employers and not employees,” Sherwin said.
The lesson was not lost on Amaya, “We know when we grow up that we don’t want to work for someone else,” she said. “We want to be our own boss.”
The parents pushed their kids to start a business, but wanted them to buy into the concept, Tanika explained.
“When you’re an entrepreneur you have to do something that you’re really passionate about,” she said.
Amaya said the focus of the business was a family decision. “We knew we wanted to start a business,” she said, “so we decided to start with something we love – popcorn.”
The kids definitely take part in the business decisions – particularly choosing the flavors. Explained Violet: “We take what we know and give it more flavor so that it will taste good.”
The siblings have career plans that don’t include popcorn; Amaya wants to be a therapist or a veterinarian, Violet wants to be a mechanical engineer and Ethan wants to be an emergency medical technician.
But if they all end up working for the family business it would hardly be surprising.