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Young Entrepreneurs Fostered At Weekly Downtown Event
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A sell out the first week of offering, this Oakdale Young Entrepreneurs business owner was both pleased and surprised by the overwhelming success of his handcrafted bird houses. Photo Contributed

Day and time are not the only things which make the newly opened Oakdale Morning Market unique on North Third Avenue.

As the community continues to find its way to the Saturday morning event, hosted by Love Oakdale, fresh produce, food trucks and the like are not all that they’ll find.

Thanks to the vision of Love Oakdale Director Lisa Kjeldgaard and the leadership of community member and Oakdale Kids Social founder Yvonne Duenas, Oakdale Young Entrepreneurs (OYE!) is a welcome addition to the market featuring the community’s youth.

“Lisa’s vision for this was to have a section for kids to offer their handmade goods at the Oakdale Morning Market,” Duenas shared.

Recognizing her passion for youth, as well as her business savvy, Kjeldgaard approached Duenas with the proposition of aiding in this area of the Morning Market team.

Duenas shared there are currently a total of 28 kids participating in the OYE! opportunity. The group is rotated through the weeks, five entrepreneurs at a time.

Each are responsible for their own space and set up, as well as a $5 fee for vendor space.

“They bring all their own stuff. They can decorate their booth space however they want,” Duenas shared, adding having a parent present is also a requirement.

Prior to the start of the market, Kjeldgaard and Duenas met with the students and their parents to review some tips, as well as expectations as vendors of the market.

“They got up in front of this whole room of parents and other kids and spoke about what they were going to offer,” Duenas explained, sharing while some were nervous, each fulfilled their speaking time and came away with great confidence.

The tips from the meeting, as well as the partnership with the market proved to be well worth it, as each of the youth vendors sold out the first week they were open.

“Everybody did really well,” Duenas said of the first week.

Since the start of the Morning Market, Duenas has sent business tips to the entrepreneurs each week. Tips like making eye contact, getting in front of their space and meeting customers, as well as ensuring they’re stocked with inventory.

“It’s a total commitment,” she said of the 28 entrepreneurs. “There’s so much that goes into it, before they show up at the booth with all their stuff.”

The OYE! coordinator shared, while the students do all the work, it takes commitment from the parents as well. Current business owners of the OYE! space range in age from 6 to 16.

“The kids are doing the selling. They’re out there talking about their own products,” Duenas said with pride. “But I would have to say at home their parents have to be incredibly encouraging and supportive.”

As for her involvement, the lender by day, wife and mother by night shared it’s her passion for both kids and spreading business knowledge which brings her the most joy.

“I wanted to add something to the community, but it needed to be something I was passionate about,” she said. “I’m creating the life that I want and I love. I just like being with kids.”

With a long tenure in the corporate world and a current career where customer service is of utmost importance, Duenas shared she felt there was a gap that could be filled with young people. The social interaction and basic fundamentals of life are key components the participants are learning, lessons they can carry into the future.

“No matter what business you’re in, it’s always about relationships and how you treat others and what you expect from yourself,” Duenas concluded. “If you have no expectations of yourself, you really can have no expectation of others.”

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Oakdale Young Entrepreneurs Leader Yvonne Duenas along with three thriving business owners: siblings Itscoatl, 9; Ixchel, 8; and Iyari Sandoval, 5, offering succulents and paper maché piggy banks. Teresa Hammond/The Leader