Domenic LaHaye has a business card, a logo and a thriving little operation selling air plant holders, from which the 10-year-old entrepreneur has made about $400.
But he's not spending the cash on video games or candy. Instead, he's feeding what he calls his "plant addiction."
"I always wanted to build something, but I never really knew what," he said. "And then I started liking plants. So then I thought, why don't I just build air plant holders and sell them?"
That spurred Little Holders, his venture building the holders out of reclaimed grain elevator wood.
It all began in his Grade 3/4 classroom with his teacher Kelsey Gullickson, whose partner was asking her to find another space for the plants that were crowding their home. She decided to bring them to her classroom at Wilfrid Hunt Elementary School, thinking it would make a warm, inviting space for the students.
"They've had to make so many adjustments and changes this past year, and I just wanted to create a space that they were excited to come to — somewhere that felt like their home away from home," Gullickson said.
That decision brought the class curriculum to life, with Domenic particularly feeling the excitement and asking his mother to buy him a plant in their green-leaf deprived home. From there, he began collecting more and more plants, with his mother saying it filled a hole the family hadn't even realized was there.
"I worked in health care throughout the pandemic, which meant I haven't been around," said Chantel LaHaye. "So when this plant addiction, as he likes to call it, kind of took over, it gave him something to fill his time, which has been just so, so important."
It has given him passion, enthusiasm and something to look forward to in a year when so much of his normal life was taken away, she said.
Chantel gave her son's teacher credit for building an interest her son would never have discovered.
In a year that's been equally hard for adults, Gullickson said it's been gratifying to see her students learning and flourishing alongside the plants that fill their classroom. For a student to turn an interest into a potential lifelong hobby or work is an extra reward, she said.
"There's nothing that makes a teacher prouder than seeing a kid succeed like that."