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Shoppers enter the Nordstrom store located at the Somerset Collection in Troy, Mich., Nov. 28, 2008. (Gary Malerba/AP)
Shoppers enter the Nordstrom store located at the Somerset Collection in Troy, Mich., Nov. 28, 2008. (Gary Malerba/AP)

Small Business Briefing

Retailers can’t say no to 15-year-old business owner Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz.

Stores flip out

Madison Robinson has clearly come up with a great product. Every business she’s approached has ordered her Fish Flops for Kids. And she’s only 15.

According to a story on Yahoo Small Business Advisor, the young entrepreneur from Houston sells her shoes at Nordstroms, in retail boutiques and she’ll soon have a line for women in Macy’s stores, in addition to online sales. The flip-flops feature ocean-inspired designs and they light up. They sell for $20 (U.S.), and at 60,000 pairs sold in 2012, Madison pulled in about $1.2-million in retail sales.

She’s learned a great deal about how to run a business at a very young age, but how did she become so successful? She convinced Entertainment Tonight host Nancy O’Dell to get her daughter to wear the flip-flops by reaching out on Twitter, where she also attracted the attention of Tony Little. And she wrote letters to retailers to get her foot in the door.

She’s also managed to stay grounded, thanks to her father. “My dad won’t let me touch the money,” she told Yahoo. “It’s for college.”

Female entrepreneurs pay it forward

Dell is encouraging female business owners in its Women’s Entrepreneur Network to help more than one million women launch companies by the end of 2015. The initiative, dubbed Pay It Forward, was announced at the group’s fourth global gathering, which has brought together more than 150 female entrepreneurs in Istanbul for a conference, panel discussions and networking opportunities. Pay It Forward will muster the efforts of its 10,000-strong Women’s Entrepreneur Network, Women Powering Business community and Wise Dell team members to each help at least 10 female business owners over the next two years, who in turn can help 10 more. The women will receive help in the form of time or money to improve access to knowledge, technology, capital and networks. They will also be able to go online for suggestions on ways to make use of a network of non-profit organizations focused on advancing women and girls, and the portal will track member commitments, share information, and report progress against the overall goal.

Hatley expands its lines overseas

Quebec-based children’s clothing retailer Hatley has seen increasing growth of its brand in Europe, including distribution in such outlets as Selfridges, Harrods, John Lewis, Stockmann and Rinacentre. To keep up with demand and streamline distribution, the company’s management team decided to open a warehouse on the continent. “We are now able to get our product to our European customers faster, by decreasing lead times and saving five to six days in transit from our Montreal warehouse. This in turn has increased our customer satisfaction,” says Jeremy Oldland, CFO of Hatley. The warehouse is in Portsmouth England, a town south of London that’s known for its vast array of distribution centres. We spoke with Mr. Oldland about the growth of his family business on this Google+ Hangout in 2012.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce awards

The Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce hosts its Annual Gala and Awards Night in Toronto on June 8, which it calls “a marquee event where we promote trade and commerce between India and Canada and recognize the achievements of Indo-Canadians from all across Canada by way of an award presentation.” Categories include female and male entrepreneur of the year, young achiever of the year, lifetime/outstanding achievement award, and member of the year award for voluntarism and community services.

The future of business

GROW presents The Future of Business: The Intersection of Design and Entrepreneurial Thinking, in Vancouver from Aug. 14 to 16. The conference is about innovation, growth, and entrepreneurship, bringing together technology pioneers, founders, executives, influencers, and investors who are passionate about identifying problems worth solving, sharing ideas, building relationships, and executing on lessons learned.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Back from the brink

Setbacks can derail any company, but these resolute Canadian businesses rebounded: Chapman’s Ice Cream Ltd., an independent ice cream manufacturer in Markdale, Ont., and two Hamilton-based companies, MJM Media Inc., an audio and video production house, and Janac-Mastectomy Wear, a sole proprietorship that makes sports bras and the Been-A-Boob prosthesis for women after breast cancer.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Fun times

Phil Hart, a Toronto entrepreneur we wrote about in October, 2010, who’s provided novelty items to parties and events for almost 20 years, launched Frosh Carnival, a miniature fun fair that he calls a trade show, wholly backed by corporations seeking to put product samples in the hands of teenagers suddenly in charge of their own purchasing decisions.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com.

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