Parker Jo Bateson stands beside some of the garbage she collected on Gregory Beach in Haida Gwai. The youngster has started a jewelry making business to make money for cleaning up B.C.’s other beaches. (Photo contributed)

Shuswap girl designs jewelry to save the oceans

Enthusiastic entrepreneur plans to clean up B.C. beaches with earnings from earring business

A single book sparked a deep passion in a young girls’ heart to clean up the ocean.

Parker Jo Bateson turns eight on July 29 and, with the help of her dad Travis, is learning how to be a successful entrepreneur while doing her best to improve the world.

The Ranchero school student’s interest in oceans was piqued by a home study book she read about ocean animals.

“It was so interesting I wanted to learn more, so I studied and studied,” says the articulate and enthusiastic young girl, who discovered the world’s oceans are filled with garbage and she needed to do something about it. “I have a really big passion for the ocean and I’m raising money for people to clean up all the beaches.”

“She wants everywhere the ocean touches in B.C. to be clean,” adds Travis, with a proud smile.

Related: Sicamous citizens celebrate earth day by cleaning the beach

In the spring, Parker was admiring the artwork at Oh For Art Sake in Centenoka Park Mall where the owner informed her if she made something, she’d carry it in her store.

“I was thinking of having a business to save the ocean and the next day I walked into a store and found the way to do it,” Parker crows with delight.

Already an avid beader, she created Parker Jo’s Tyny Treasures, making earrings from antlers her dad finds by hiking in the mountains. Travis cuts the antlers deer have shed into small disks and Parker fashions a variety of earrings.

Even four-year-old sister, Sayda, gets in on the act by putting the little rubber stoppers on the backs of the earrings.

Parker’s jewelry is now available in four stores in the Shuswap and one in Smithers – locally at the Artisan Gift Market at DeMille’s, the Handmade Shoppe, Oh For Art Sake and Farmer John’s near Enderby.

“I am trying to teach her about being self-employed so a lot of this is a lesson,” Travis says, noting he loaned Parker the capital to buy her material and that she is paying him back with interest. “I have been self-employed almost my whole life; it’s an important skill for anybody to learn.”

Travis has helped Parker develop a business plan, with details entered on a white board at home.

For every $100 Parker earns from the sale of her earrings, $20 goes toward buying more beads, $20 goes to her dad and $20 goes to the company. And Parker has her own bank account.

“In the real world, the government would take a third,” says Travis of the lessons he’s giving his daughter. “I’m just the bank and I told her that if she doesn’t pay me, I’ll take all her stuff. Better me than someone else.”

Whatever is left over will go to a charity to help clean up beaches or the family might organize a team to go do the work themselves.

That would not be a new mission for the family that recently spent a week on Haida Gwai cleaning beaches fouled by material from the 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan.

While she dreams of being a marine biologist, Parker plans to be a businesswoman first.

Related: Entrepreneurial teen inspired by the Shuswap.

In the meantime, Parker is happy to be a kid in the summer, playing with her sister and swimming in the pool.

She has been on family fishing trips to Port Hardy and Haida Gwai in her dad’s large ocean boat, has been white water rafting on the Fraser, North Saskatchewan and Kootenay rivers, horseback trips in the Chilcotin and continues to share many other adventures.

“We do lots outdoors,” says Travis.

“We’re just nature people, that’s all,” adds an emphatic Parker, with a smile as big as her enthusiasm.

A former Ranchero student, Parker is delighted to be heading to the new outdoor school at South Canoe in the fall.

“I’m really excited,” says the young girl who is learning to make her way in a world she loves.


@SalmonArm
barbbrouwer@saobserver.net

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