We are so pleased to be able to share our next MMSMP Featured Artisan with you because we know that his story will touch your heart.
Everyone, meet nine year old kidpreneur Owen – the founder of The Nice Bench Co. based in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada.
Owen’s older brother, Caden, was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of nine. Owen’s family felt the financial strain immediately. One quarter of families of children being treated for cancer lose 40% of their total household income. Over 50% of mothers reported relinquishing their employment to provide care for their child. (Source: Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center). As you can imagine, the loss of income is huge, and then add up all the extra hidden costs of medicine, childcare, meals on the road and parking.
Owen was sensitive to all of this and set out to help other families that were experiencing the same thing. One day, Owen built a step stool for his five year old sister, Anikka (with the help of his Dad).
His grandparents and auntie loved Anikka’s new bench so much, that Owen was fueled to make more! Owen built and painted a bunch of benches (aka step stools) with scrap wood on Christmas Day, 2016. Those first bench prototypes were a little rough-looking, but the idea was born. Owen kept remarking, “Check out these nice benches.” It was in that simple observation that The Nice Bench Co. was officially born in May of 2017! The budding kidpreneur wanted to do something NICE and donate partial proceeds from the sale of each bench to childhood cancer causes. Owen translates partial proceeds (50% of after tax profits) into gas gift cards for
childhood cancer families traveling long distances for chemotherapy treatment.
The Nice Bench Co. has commissioned a local high school student to help build the benches and keep up with demand. Owen and his family paint together and when they have a really big order, the whole family helps out, including Anikka.
Using non-toxic and eco-friendly paint products, like Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, is extremely important to Owen and The Nice Bench Co. Caden’s Leukemia diagnosis made his family evaluate and re-examine everything. Along with switching to organic and grass-fed meats and using non-toxic household cleaners, plastic-free etc., the family wanted to make sure that Owen’s benches were aligned with these protocols. The Nice Bench Co.’s benches will be living in nurseries and play rooms so the family wanted to make sure they weren’t harmful in any way. They take comfort in knowing that their family and their customers are not inhaling any scary chemicals or being exposed to toxic paint products.
Owen loves to experiment and make all kinds of concoctions and potions with MMS Milk Paint. Mixing the powder and bringing it to life with water and adjusting the opacity and richness of the paint itself brings Owen a lot of joy.
We asked Owen’s mom, Kirstin, how she felt about her son’s endeavors. Here’s what she shared with us:
“Owen would give you the shirt off his back. He is very empathetic and so incredibly generous, and he definitely has a budding entrepreneurial spirt. His little social enterprise is quite fitting.”
We also asked Kirstin if Owen has any favorite colors in our collection and what their best sellers are. Owen changes his favorite color every time he paints a bench. (We can relate!) His latest favorite is French Enamel.
Before that it was Lucketts Green, which happens to be April’s Color of the Month!
The Nice Bench Co.’s top selling colors are Ironstone and Arabesque.
Owen’s mom, Kirstin, described our MMS Milk Paint colors as “poetically nostalgic” and zen-like. We also encourage you to give our paint a try. If nine year kidpreneur Owen can master the art, you can too!
You can shop for The Nice Bench Co. benches at select retail locations in Ontario and California. You can find a full list here. You can also purchase benches directly from The Nice Bench Co.’s online shop. Kirstin was kind enough to set up a discount code for all MMSMP readers. If you use the code MILKPAINT30, then you can receive 30% off of your bench order in any color you wish! There are other options too including growth charts and name plates. The benches also come raw so you can paint one yourself!
Follow The Nice Bench Co. on social media too! Like and comment on their posts to help their posts rise in the news feeds and share them on your social platforms.
The Nice Bench Co.’s Facebook Page
The Nice Bench Co.’s Instagram Feed
Below is a local news feature on Owen and The Nice Bench Co. In addition to running The Nice Bench Co., Owen has his sights on making it to the Olympics for gymnastics. If he can’t be found in the gym, then you can bet he’s up to some kind of creative, spirited musing!
We hope you will join us in supporting Owen, his family, The Nice Bench Co., and families impacted by childhood cancer around the world. Cheers to you, Owen! You’re quite the kidpreneur!