This article appeared in print as part of “Ask & Give: Female Entrepreneurs Rally in Columbia” 

Growing up, it didn’t take long for Liz Tucker to corner the market on bottle rockets in her Columbia neighborhood.

She recognized that her brother and his friends were always in need of things that go boom around the Fourth of July every year. There’s your demand.

She also recognized that snapping up the bottle rocket supply from local fireworks stores early in the season could work to her advantage. There’s your supply.

So when the neighborhood boys ran low on bottle rockets, where do you think they turned? Liz. Even with the mark-up she built into her prices. “I ran the El Chaparral [subdivision] firework market,” says Tucker, who now owns Poppy, the handmade art and gifts store in downtown Columbia.

Kelsey Meyer knows the feeling. Growing up in St. Louis, she would collect rocks from her neighbors’ yards, paint them, then sell them back to her neighbors at a tidy profit.

That was when she was 5. Now she’s president of Influence & Co., the content marketing agency she co-founded.

“My mom likes to joke that, when I was young, the neighbors all hated me because I was constantly at their doors trying to sell them stuff,” Meyer says.

Meyer and Tucker share a key part of their backstory with many female entrepreneurs: the earlier they exhibit that entrepreneurial spirit, the more likely it is that they’ll be their own bosses as adults.

Sara Cochran, entrepreneurial programs manager for the UM System, quoted a study that found that teenage girls are more likely to want to become entrepreneurs if at least one of their parents is one. The study found the correlation does not hold for teenage boys.

For women, early exposure to the entrepreneurial world is an important determinant, whether it be from observing a father running his own real estate company — as Meyer’s did — or cornering the bottle rocket racket.


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