Nine-year-old Laurel Partlow made everything from swords to dogs and giraffes using balloons Saturday on the downtown Tyler square at her booth for the third annual Acton Academy Tyler Children’s Business Fair.

Also known as Bubbles the Clown, Partlow has been working on her balloon making for 10 months. She can create a variety of animals along with swords and hearts with her air pump and an array of colorful balloons.

“It’s fun,” she said. “I like making (kids) happy.”

Partlow was among over 50 young entrepreneurs who brought their businesses to the downtown square for this year’s business fair.

For the fair, kids created a product or service, established a brand, built their marketing strategy and opened for customers during the one-day marketplace. Each was responsible for the setup, sales and interacting with customers.

Erica Timmons, Acton Academy Tyler founder, said the third annual business fair has been well-received after being canceled last year due to COVID-19.

“We’ve had more interested than ever,” Timmons said.

Acton Academy Tyler is a learner-driven private school that serves pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students. Acton Academy started in Austin and has become a nationwide network of schools.

“We want them to feel what it’s like to have a business. Just see what it’s like to give it a try,” Timmons said. “I think they can see what it’s like to succeed and for some, what it’s like to fail. They get to see what it’s like to be a respected business owner.”

Timmons said the business owners ranged in age from 4 to 17.

Partlow said she’s been a part of a few fairs and festivals for her clown business, but she’s careful to stick with the balloon designs she knows.

“If I try to do something new here, the balloon might pop,” she said.

She wants to be a clown when grows up. She said it took some time to come up with her clown name of Bubbles.

“Mom and dad wanted me to be Candy Corn but in the end, Bubbles worked out,” Partlow said.

Nine-year-old Dylan Lawrence, the owner of Lawrence Lures, came out to the downtown square to sell some of his handmade fishing lures.

“It’s a lot of fun of fishing,” he said. “That’s why I like to make them.”

The young entrepreneurs also received awards for “highest business potential,” “most original business idea” and “best presentation/creativity.”


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I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.