Entrepreneur Uses 'Cats' To Help Dogs

LA MESA -- Thirteen-year-old Ariana Erickson spends her summers in a somewhat unconventional way. Instead of going to camp she spends much of her days honing her skills as a young entrepreneur through a business she created called Ariana’s Garden. Her parents can attest to the fact that she has always loved creating and selling things and has a great head for business. At the age of 9 her school had a fundraiser to collect donations to help build clean water wells in Ethiopia. Ariana knew she could make things to raise even more money and this is when she realized she loved making and selling things and supporting environmental causes. Starting with jewelry, and garden gifts she has progressed to a line of homemade bath and body products for the past two years. Combing the Internet looking for great recipes, she fine tunes them and makes them her own using simple natural ingredients whenever possible. Her latest creation is a solid perfume locket with essential oils which is selling like hot cakes.

What started as small sales in the street in front of her house, has grown steadily over the years. Ariana‘s mom has taken on the duties of packaging, marketing, and promotions allowing Ariana to focus her efforts on production and sales. She now sells items at craft fairs, at a boutique shop in downtown La Mesa called Handful of Wildflowers, and to faithful repeat customers who visit her home shop. Happily, her parents have had to keep giving her a bigger and bigger space in the guestroom/office/Ariana’s Garden shop. The sacrifice of time and space has been more than worth it knowing they are supporting this effort which has given Ariana such purpose. The amount of business and life skills this experience has provided is incredible. So far she has donated over $2,000 to a variety of charities and has helped to build clean water wells in Ethiopia, to save the Amazon rain forests, to support the Second Chance Dog Rescue and now the Great Pyrenees of Southern California Rescue. In addition to donating funds to charity, Ariana always likes to support local businesses and social responsibility.

This Saturday August 1st, she will have a sale at Handful of Wildflowers showcasing her products as well as a unique specialty item that only becomes available in the summer months. Ariana is currently selling “Cat Keepers”.....Monarch butterfly caterpillars not the furry variety that is. The Cat Keepers were created to capture and protect the threatened and often elusive caterpillars so the entire process can be seen from the caterpillar turning into a chrysalis and then finally emerging as a beautiful monarch butterfly. It’s very difficult to see the entire transformation as the caterpillars often don’t make it through all the stages due to a variety of factors. Monarch caterpillars are prone to predators and parasites, plus they only eat one type of food (milkweed) which must be available for the butterfly to lay its eggs on and to sustain the caterpillar. To add to the challenge, the caterpillars like to hide when they go off to become a chrysalis so people can miss the last amazing stage altogether. To solve these problems, Ariana re-purposed and decorated candle lanterns creating the protective homes for the “cats” which can later be transformed back into a candle lantern. Each keeper comes equipped with a small container that can hold fresh food for the caterpillar. People who are nature lovers, or who want a nature experience or short-term pet for their children, will really enjoy watching this process unfold.


Check out the sale at Handful of Wildflowers Sat Aug 1, from 11-2 (located at 8323 La Mesa Blvd). Parking is slightly limited on the main street of the Village due to construction but there should be parking on side streets and back lots. Free milkweed seeds (to grow food for caterpillars) will be available on a first come first serve basis. Additional milkweed plants can be purchased at Hunter’s Nursery (www.huntersnursery.com) in Lemon Grove.  25% of proceeds will go to the Great Pyrenees of Southern California Rescue ( www.GreatPyrRescue.org). To find out more about Ariana’s business look for Ariana’s Garden on Facebook, email Claudia Erickson (Ariana’s Mom) at cakerickson4@gmail.com or call (619) 248-6532. Please come check out the sale, learn a little about the Great Pyrenees, the Monarch’s and bring a little business to our wonderful local merchants!

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Tags: Entrepreneur, Great, La, Mesa, Monarch's, Pyrenees, Young, and, helps

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