Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Here's a child who really knows his mind.

He's certainly his own person.

I found out that he donated $1000 last month to help sponsor the Youth for Human Rights International International Summit.

He came to New York for the event and was acknowledged from the state.

Imagine, not only donating a thousand dollars at age 11 to a human rights organization, but earning it to be able to donate it!

I know his dad is a member of the Church of Scientology, and I'm sure one of the reasons Cameron is as level-headed and competent as he is comes from being treated as a being not as a "child" as Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard covers in the article on how to live with children.

The Orange County Register

December 3, 2003, Wednesday

HEADLINE: Ten-year-old artist learns how to make a business of his talent

By Jan Norman

"Hi, these are my pastels. Which one do you like best?" Cameron James Kaye engaged a passer-by who paused at his exhibition of pastels and watercolors at the Irvine Farmers Market on a recent Saturday morning.

For this self-assured artist with large brown eyes, paintings are more than a fascination; they're a business.

Cameron is 10.

Many entrepreneurs start young, but rarely that young. Still, the work ethic, math and public-speaking skills learned in a youthful business are invaluable when the youngster reaches the adult work world.

Early entrepreneurship teaches self-reliance and feelings of accomplishment and freedom of choice, according to Emmanuel Modu, author of "The Lemonade Stand: A Guide to Encouraging the Entrepreneur in Your Child."

That wasn't the intent of Cameron's father, Bob Kaye, a financial planner.

Although he helped his son find selling venues, he hasn't pushed early entrepreneurship.

"But at some point kids should learn there is an exchange: money for work," he said.

Cameron is a quick study.

In less than three years, he has created more than 40 pieces. He usually sells prints in three sizes, for $11 to $60. He has recently added giclee reproductions, which are high-resolution digital scans printed with archival-quality inks. He has sold more than 200 prints and several originals, and recently did a commissioned pastel of a dog.

"I try to keep them talking," Cameron said, explaining his sales technique.

"The longer I keep them here, the more likely they'll buy something. I'll say, 'Do you want to buy?' and if they say no, I try to talk to them more."

When asked what the tables and easels of artwork represent to him, Cameron says, "I have a business. I have a job."

It started with one art class shortly after his 7th birthday. He has also taken piano and skiing lessons, and started singing and acting in youth theater.

In all these endeavors, including his art business, "the day he says he doesn't want to do it is the day we stop," Bob Kaye said.

The Kayes, who live in Valley Glen near Van Nuys, Calif., used to sell at open-air markets closer to home, but most charge a minimum fee even if no sale is made. The Irvine Farmers Market, in the Irvine Marketplace shopping center across Campus Drive from the University of California, Irvine, just charges a percent of sales. Plus, it's a half-day event, which is easier for Cameron.

"I was coming every other week, but I wanted to cut back to every three weeks because when I'm here, I can't be at art class," he said. "But with Christmas coming, I'll be doing every other week again."

Bob Kaye takes the prints to be matted, but Cameron labels and prices them and wraps them in plastic. On Friday nights before a show, he loads the car. They awake at 6 a.m. for the 90-minute drive to Irvine. Cameron takes charge of setting up the tables and umbrellas and his artwork, mostly animals or landscapes.

He has a special place for his pastel of a dove, which won third place in the Youth for Human Rights International art contest in Argentina last summer.

Cameron keeps track of every person he engages at his booth. He knows that he makes one sale for every five conversations.

"Sometimes I offer a discount if they say it's too expensive, or I show them smaller sizes," he said, lifting a large print to reveal smaller versions of the same picture underneath.

Where did he come up with these ideas?

"Ah, many days and long drives getting here," he said, smiling.

Bob Kaye acknowledges that he has shared some of his sales experience with his son. "If I didn't like sales, we probably wouldn't be here. But I've never sold one of his paintings. It's up to him."

Cameron's best day at the Irvine Farmers Market was $255 in sales. His slowest was $45. He even calculates and collects sales tax.

He seeks out other vendors for sales tips. One artist suggested that Cameron would sell more if he framed his art. But that didn't boost sales.

Cameron is already passing along his business acumen.

"I have a friend who came with me the day I sold $255," he said. "She's my apprentice. I'm showing her everything I know."

Cameron has saved $2,700 for college from his art sales. Does he plan to study art?

"I'm going to be a rocket scientist," Cameron said matter-of-factly.

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