It’s no coincidence that the warmth entrepreneur Olivia Irvine exudes while speaking about her business is the common thread that weaves through her product line.
As the 13-year-old founder and owner of Roasty Toasty Campfire Company, she appreciates adding a cozy touch to wherever people find themself enjoying the Highlands, whether camping, cottaging or just enjoying the outdoors.
The Haliburton French immersion student who attends J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School has been taught the virtues of hard work by her parents, which has been bolstered with the importance of cooperation, communication and financial literacy through her endeavour.
She began with selling firewood in 2021 and has expanded her offering to include apparel, decorative metal signs, fire rings, fire pits and heated chairs.
The business venture started when she and her father read the business book, Rich Kid, Smart Kid: Giving Your Child A Financial Head Start by Robert T. Kiyosaki. This was a book her father wished he had read when he was younger. He wanted this book to help teach Olivia about the importance of work ethic and how to handle her finances. The seed money for this business venture came from Christmas and birthday gift money, and from bake sales.
With wood being plentiful and available through her grandparents, Bill and Brooke Irvine, the supply was set and her funds in place to purchase the bags to store and sell the wood.
As reported in a local newspaper, the Haliburton Echo, Olivia said the origin of the business name came from the idea one has when roasting marshmellows, which is “roasty” and then how campfires are “toasty.”
The Grade 8 student said the goal was and still remains to earn money to cover her education costs towards becoming an interior designer at Dawson College in Montreal, Quebec. With her French immersion studies, she welcomes the opportunity to embrace a different culture and use her language skills.
Thus far, all her profits have been reinvested in the company.
Not only has she learned about assets and liabilities through operating the business, but she has grown and developed like her product offerings.
The once shy girl is now outspoken and articulate, which has given her confidence in business and in life. She remembers one encounter with a customer that would have had her retreating.
“A couple of years ago, I probably would have … hid away. Okay, but now I was just having a conversation,” she said.
She didn’t have much of a choice. Dealing with suppliers and customers is a constant.
Her business achievements has proved to be the foundation for her developing self-confidence. She believes future implications of this growth will help achieve her professional dreams.
The unwavering support from her closest friends has helped her to not feel like she is missing out on any of the typical things girls do at her age.
“Well, yeah, sometimes I wish that I could go hanging out with my friends more. But they know that it’s important and they’re proud of me,” she said.
She welcomed the support, and was surprised by how some didn’t believe in her, but is proud about how her success has changed the opinions of the naysayers.
“It’s kind of cool to see how it changes their perspective,” she said.
Like any business there has been ups and downs. Lessons have been learned along the way.
Her parents Shawn and Lisa appreciated how this business venture has paid dividends for their daughter’s development as a person.
“She was more timid. She has definitely come out of her shell a little bit, and when we do these [trade] shows, she takes the lead. It’s her that is out there, front and centre and addressing people trying to make the sales,” Shawn said.
Shawn drives her to the trade shows, and he has been responsible for finding products, which align with the company’s focus on selling high-quality products. Among the products includes the Canadian made smokeless fire pits made by Coulee. Roasty Toasty is a distributor for the Alberta-based company.
He said his daughter may miss school occasionally with the trade shows, but his daughter is diligent about staying up to date with her studies, and believes her development makes up for the absences.
When his daughter started the business three years ago he initially thought she’d sell a few bags of firewood. Her drive is at the heart of the success for this business, he said.
“For me, I just don’t step on her toes. I just kind of let her go,” he said. “I want to see where it goes.”
Her mother, Lisa helps with the financials and with scheduling so her daughter has a balance of life and business. Olivia continues to dance competitively. She lights up talking about it.
Lisa said the business has honed her daughter’s ability to think. “Her mind is always thinking of ways to work smart instead of work hard, something she learned in the financial book she read with her dad. She has learned she likes to sell and is better at speaking to customers. As well, she is more comfortable with the public and more confident in herself,” Lisa wrote in an email. “She is learning life doesn’t always go the way you planned and that competition exists. She is learning about deal making and how to treat a customer so they leave happy, no matter the situation. Time has had to toughen up a little, as she is generally a soft person. She had and still has a positive outlook on life, despite the hiccups she has had.”
The family has weekly business meetings, but Olivia has the final say. Feedback from customers is used to improve the business and is reflected in the products offered.
Disagreements do happen, but for this family working together through it all has been the best thing they could have imagined.
“It has brought us closer as well as strained it when we disagree on how to handle a customer situation or making a business decision. We are all learning how to deal with different ideas and opinions. Having weekly business meetings between Olivia, her father and myself helps keep us tight,” Lisa said.
Other than purchasing online, the business sells its products at various addresses and local retailers. Go see where, how and what the entire lineup of products is on offer by Roasty Toasty at www.roastytoastycampfire.com.
Olivia’s message to other aspiring business people is stay the course, no matter what.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. So, if you know what you want and there’s people in the way don’t let them tell you can’t. It doesn’t matter what they say. If you know you can do it and you can do it,” she said.