SAVVY STUDENT: Tahlia-Jae Cartwright is just 14 and already has a profitable business selling designs on iPhone cases.
SAVVY STUDENT: Tahlia-Jae Cartwright is just 14 and already has a profitable business selling designs on iPhone cases. Hamish Broome

Broadwater teen a bona fide entrepreneur

ARMED with an iPad, an Instagram account, and a good idea, 14-year-old Tahlia-Jae Cartwright is already a bona fide entrepreneur.

A little over a year ago the Broadwater teen had a simple idea which, with a bit of business savvy, she has transformed into a profit-making business better than your average part-time job.

Bored with the background images available for her iPad, she created designs and uploaded them on the booming image-based social media site Instagram.

The simple designs, which use repeating motifs such as pieces of fruit, pink donuts, and smiling aliens, became incredibly popular.

In just a few months, her Instagram account amassed about 200,000 followers.

Then came the enterprising twist - from her own followers came the idea to print the designs on iPhone cases, and the business was born.

"Tahlia sourced them all and jumped online and found out where to get them made," dad Marc said.

It's an idea which appears to have captured the picky young teen market.

Tahlia-Jae has sold hundreds of cases on her website, backgroundstuff.net, and they're going all over the world for just $12 each plus postage.

Instagram serves as the perfect market research site with her followers telling her which new design they like the most via a simple poll.

"I'll ask them and whatever ones they like the most I'll make," she said.

Because Tahlia-Jae gives away the designs online as background images, her customers can have matching cases.

The covers are sent all over the world, including South America, Europe and the Middle East.

Marc joked: "In the same orders, she's filling out Egypt, the UK, Israel and ... Wollongbar."

The business website began in September, although her Instagram account had been going for about a year before that.

One side benefit is Tahlia-Jae has attracted the attention of other businesses wanting to sponsor her to give their products a "shout out", and she's being inundated with products in the mail for free.

Almost every day she's receiving items including chocolates, sunglasses, clothing, and candles.

She doesn't have a Facebook or Twitter account.

Tahlia hoped to find a marketing mentor to help expand her business, and planned to apply her images to a range of other products next year.

Mum Susan said: "She's done this all on her own."

"Her choice was to get a job at McDonalds or the BP... and she chose this," she said.



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