Pushing Buttons, a Cambridge family business run by 11-year-old KK Emmay, has always been about helping others.
A year ago, Emmay received a button machine, a birthday gift from her parents, she’s using to raise funds for local charities.
The grade six student speaks of building healthier communities and youth entrepreneurship with the maturity of someone much older. “Helping other businesses promote their brand means a lot to me,” she said. “I have never really wanted things; I’d rather be with family and feel good knowing that I am helping others,” she said.
“Now that I have learned about business, my focus has expanded to also helping other kids shoot beyond the stars.”
Over the past year, she has donated over $1000 to different charities. Part of the funds raised enabled Emmay to invest in a second machine.
The ‘Future Princess CEO’ button, one of her original designs, remains one of her most popular. “I also make custom buttons for a lot of businesses. I have made buttons for Amazon’s fulfilment centre, Sunny Boy Farm and a few others,“ she said. “I’m not sure exactly how many buttons I have made, but orders are usually for between 50 - 300 buttons or magnets.”
“It’s about making a difference and reminding people that no idea is too small,” said Emmay. “My mom told me to aim for the sky, and I told her that we are going beyond the stars.”
Her buttons have been contracted by small and large retailers, including Amazon. Emmay partnered with Indigo’s Love of Reading Foundation, where she created and sold buttons in store. Proceeds were donated directly to a local library.
She says, after seeing her dreams come to life, she wanted to share her experience with other young people. Before the pandemic, she travelled to conventions and participated in pitch contests. “I was recruited to be a Junior Correspondent at the 2019 NAACP Conference. That was an amazing experience and allowed me to network with other amazingly talented kids,” said Emmay. She took second place (against adults, she adds) at a business pitch competition held by the Afro Caribbean Business Network.
“I try to stay engaged within the region's small business community and volunteer as a youth leader at the Langs Community Centre.”
She takes her leadership role seriously. “As the eldest in my home, I know that I am a role model,” she says. Her advice to other youth - “find what you are passionate about and start there. Keep pushing forwards and never be afraid to ask for help.”
Emmay says she considers herself to be a well-rounded kid. Outside of her business and charitable work, she likes to sing. “I love musical theatre. I love math, and surprisingly I’m also good at sports.” As for what lies ahead, she hopes to continue inspiring other young leaders and to consistently be in a position that will allow her to be her true self.
She was looking forward to hosting this year’s Waterloo Region Children’s Business Fair, an annual one-day market featuring Children’s businesses in Waterloo Region. The event has been postponed, the date is still uncertain. Updated information regarding the fair can be found on their Facebook and Instagram pages. “It would be great if people could come out and support all of the region’s hard-working kid-bosses,” she said.
Follow her journey: @buttonspushing. “The community can also help me reach my goals by conveying the messages on my buttons through their actions,” she adds.