NAME: OLIVIA MACHANIC
Parents today may remember that when they were kids, starting a business meant creating flyers, making copies and stuffing mailboxes — methods that might seem archaic for today's savvy young entrepreneurs.
In 2014, a domain name was one of the first things on Olivia Machanic's mind when she decided to start Liv Lax, a company that sells lacrosse-inspired bracelets and key chains. A priority: check to see if the web address livlax.com — a clever mash-up of her first name and "lax," which is short for lacrosse — was available. It was, which she took as a good sign.
The love of lacrosse runs in Olivia's family. She's been playing since eighth grade and currently competes on Champlain Valley Union High School's varsity team, and club team 802 Lacrosse during the off-season. Her two younger siblings also play, and her parents coach Shelburne Youth Lacrosse.
The initial inspiration for Liv Lax came two summers ago, after Olivia's dad, Rick, and younger brother, Aiden, noticed the many vendors selling clothing, bags and other athletic gear at out-of-state lacrosse tournaments. Olivia and Rick started brainstorming and thought bracelets would fill a niche and capitalize on Olivia's craftiness. Mom Jen has a background in retail management and offered to help run the business.
After she checked on the domain name, Olivia went to Kevin Smith Sports, a sporting goods store in South Burlington, to purchase rolls of sidewall string, used to fasten the mesh pocket to the head of a lacrosse stick. Then she began experimenting by weaving the brightly colored string in various patterns. She settled on a crisscross design and, for the bracelets, chose a squeezable cord lock that allows wearers to adjust the size.
The Machanics registered Liv Lax as a limited liability company, or LLC, with the state and got their name trademarked with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Going "the official route" came at a price, Jen says, but they felt it was worth making Liv Lax a "legitimate business" and have since recouped their start-up costs.
It's been "a great thing for our family," Olivia says of Liv Lax. Rick, an entrepreneur who started Tag New Media, helped design the company's logo — Ls intertwined to look like a bracelet — and deals with legal matters. Olivia created the Liv Lax website using Squarespace, while younger siblings Aiden and Emma help pick bracelet colors and talk up the products to their friends.
Olivia and her mom make each bracelet and key chain. "I am the hired hand," Jen jokes. "She's really running the show."
Mother and daughter have traveled to lacrosse tournaments in Middlebury, Stowe, Massachusetts and New York to sell their wares. They've also set up shop at hockey tournaments in Vermont since, Olivia explains, many athletes play both sports. For added appeal, she researches team colors before tournaments and makes bracelets in those color combinations. They retail for $10 online; key chains are $8. And they offer group discounts so teams can buy in bulk and show team solidarity. Most of the money they've made goes back into the business.
Olivia isn't sure what the future holds for Liv Lax. The high school senior is planning to sell bracelets at summer lacrosse tournaments and eventually wants to expand her product line to include bags, hats and shirts.
She hopes that, with her family's help, the business will remain in operation when she goes to college in the fall. "I was thinking about bringing the materials with me," she says.
We asked Liv Lax founder Olivia Machanic to share some advice with Vermont's budding young entrepreneurs. Parents might find her tips relevant, too.
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