Remember their names: Jacob and Eli Van Duker of Cleveland. One day in the near future, these two brothers may be leading a Fortune 500 company based on the success of a recent business venture that started with a humble lollipop.
The brothers, sons of James and Cameo Van Duker, attend the Northeast Houston Homeschool Co-op. In an entrepreneurial class taught by their father, the boys and the other Co-op students were challenged to trade up for other items using only a Blow-pop lollipop as their starting capital.
Over the course of a week, the boys continued trading items until they had enough to auction for $125. The proceeds of the auction were used to buy ingredients for homemade scented soaps, sold for $4 per bar at small markets, including Hometown Christmas in Cleveland on Dec. 6-7.
“When we were thinking of doing this, they wanted to do something that people can actually use. Soaps are useful and cute,” said Cameo.
The boys made the soap bars themselves, weighing each for uniformity and adding decorative flourishes to make the bars more appealing to a broad variety of customers. Then they neatly wrapped each bar in plastic wrap so they can be stored or given as gifts.
The bars vary in colors and decorations, but the fragrance is called fresh rain. The boys say they might add other scents to their next batches.
The Van Dukers began homeschooling their children when Jacob was a kindergartner. The family was living in Papua, New Guinea, at the time because of James’ job with Exxon Mobil.
“When we came home, he quit Exxon and got into real estate investing. We are actually starting a private school in the Cleveland area this August. For James, education is a passion,” Cameo explained.
The new school will be called Acton Academy Kingwood based on the fact that the market area of the school will include areas in and around Kingwood. Don’t look for a school website yet as it is still under development.
Cameo said the next challenge for Jacob, 14, will be designing the school’s website. He has future plans to become a computer programmer. Eli, 10, has a goal of becoming an exotic animal veterinarian.