HONOLULU (KHON) – You won’t find Coen Cadinha with a game controller in his hand.
“I’ve never been into video games. I know kids my age want to play all day. I’ve never been into that.”
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Instead, the 14-year-old started his own business.
“I knew I wanted to make money,” said the teen. “I was trying to figure out how to get a job. But I was too young. At the time, I was 13, so I couldn’t get a working permit. I thought, well, why not start my own business?”
Coen wanted to sell his own packs of candies at farmers markets. He needed Mom’s permission first.
“I didn’t take him seriously. I thought, ‘Oh, this will pass.’ But, here we are!” laughed Dorothy Cadinha.
With mom’s blessing, Coen charged forward.
“I called a bunch of people. Emailed, waited for a response. I got a response from Island Craves. Nellie (from Island Craves) told me that in order to sell at a market, you need liability insurance, a GE tax license. The following week, I asked my mom to take me to this building across from Iolani Palace. I got my GE tax license. I called a bunch of insurance companies to get liability insurance. I got approved through State Farm. I called Nellie back and said, ‘Hey, I got everything, can I sell?’ She said, yeah.”
Big Boy Sweets was born.
When he wasn’t doing homework, the Kaiser High School freshmen spent his free time mixing batches and packaging varieties of gummy candies with li hing mui powder. He enlisted help from family and friends to purchase items for a booth.
“My first market, I sold out in 4 hours. I sell at Waikele Premium Outlets,” he said.
After that experience, Coen decided to expand. He now makes and packages his own sauces, cereal treats, and varieties of popcorn.
He says he makes thousands in profits every month, which goes towards helping his family.
College, he says, isn’t something he’s planning after high school graduation. Instead, Coen wants to continue honing his entrepreneural skills.
“I was thinking of a vending machine of sweets. I don’t if that’s possible, but I’ve never seen a small business open their own vending machine. That’s something I look forward to,” he said.
But he’s got a warning for anyone looking to copy his idea.
“The idea is not as good as you might think!”