For young entrepreneur Sophie Estoppey, the bottom line is not profit: It’s helping others.
Sophie, a 10-year-old student at East Cooper Montessori School, partners with her sister, Olivia, 7, and a few friends on several very small business projects. The enterprises include lemonade and cookie stands, cleaning and selling used golf balls and designing and making jewelry and a dress to sell.
“I always try to find time to help people in need,” Sophie said. She said a desire to help was instilled in her years ago by her parents, Pierre and Pam Estoppey, who have volunteered at the Crisis Ministries homeless shelter in Charleston.
Sophie said she met and spent time with many homeless children and helped raise funds for a playground for the kids and to assure they received holiday meals and gifts.
“I know that I am doing a good thing, and I know that I am helping other people and making children happy and keeping them safe,” Sophie said.
Pam Estoppey pointed out that recently, more women and children than ever have become homeless, prompting Sophie to declare, “We want to prevent that number from growing.”
While playing with homeless children, Sophie said, she’s careful not to boast of her own possessions.
“I treat them like any of my other friends,” she said. “I want them to feel normal.”
Currently, she said, she’s helping raise money for a new homeless shelter, expected to cost about $6 million. A ground breaking for the shelter, to be at Crisis Ministries’ current Meeting Street site, is planned in October, shelter officials have said.
To raise shelter funds, Sophie is distributing small cardboard boxes she calls “Houses for Change.” A slit on the “roof” of the home-shaped box is for depositing coins, she said.
In addition, she and school mate, Addison Terry, “thought it would be fun to form a fashion business,” and they created a dress they plan to sell.
Sophie also involves friends Clara Pilley and Ellie Shuck in her enterprises.
The Estoppeys live beside a golf course, and with their father, who is co-owner with Tim May of Leaf Cafe in Charleston, Sophie and Olivia collect abandoned balls and tees, refurbish them and market them beside glasses of lemonade.
Pam said that after the quake and tsunami earlier this year in Japan, her girls raised more than $500 in two weekends.
“One Sunday, Sophie worked the lemonade stand and then went and sold Girl Scout cookies outside Walmart. A man walked up to her and said, ‘Didn’t I just buy golf balls from you awhile ago?’ And Sophie responded, ‘This is my second job.’ ”
Sophie, who also helps at Leaf on weekends, said her businesses give 95 percent of their profits to charity.
“We keep a little bit, but we mostly want to give it to charities because they have a lot less than we do.”
Fond of drawing and sketching, Sophie ponders becoming an artist or fashion designer, but adds, “I’m only 10, and I have a long time to think about it.
She vows to always help those in need. “I just hope that one day there will be no homeless people, and everyone will have shelter and be safe and happy,” she said.
Reach Edward C. Fennell at 937-5560.