Community profile: Keeping it clean — New Castle third grader building soap empire
Kids who stop in at Colorado Drifters Coffee and Fly Shop in New Castle are typically looking for a tasty treat. But for 8-year-old Dax Martinez, it’s about business first, then snacks.
A third-grader at Kathryn Senor Elementary School, Martinez is a budding entrepreneur, operating Dax’s Soap Factory out of his parents’ kitchen. Since August, he’s sold nearly 400 bars of soap with differing scents, colors, shapes and themes.
His homemade soap is stocked not only at Drifters, but also Splendor Mountain Spa in Glenwood Springs and at his aunt’s shop in Loveland. He’s also had success at the New Castle Community Market. Dax’s Soap Factory products have made it as far as Michigan and California.
Drifters co-owner Kyla Hemelt, a former teacher who included entrepreneurism in her classes, was more than happy to stock Martinez’s products.
“He had a whole little business spiel and told me what he does and asked if he could sell his soap in our shop,” Hemelt said. “You don’t see that outside of school very often, just kids doing it on their own.”
Martinez’s mother, Joanna Bruggeman, made the initial contact with Drifters, but he took it from there. He made his pitch and even negotiated some when they requested custom soap for the shop, including fish cutouts on the inside.
It was an accommodation that was easy to make in Martinez’s eyes: He said the only two things he does for fun is play Minecraft and make soap.
Martinez made soap as a hobby with his grandfather, who suggested he try to sell it. He got a youth vendor table at the local market, and a passion was born.
“All night I dreamed about it,” Martinez said. “I like the scents because you can smell them, and putting the dye in.”
At least once a week, the family kitchen turns into a factory floor. Martinez vaults up a stepstool to his parent’s kitchen island, microwaves soap base and mixes together scents and dyes. He has a collection of powders and additives like little toys, along with endless mold sizes and shapes. All the packaging and labeling is also done in house.
But it isn’t all just fun and games — Martinez is a money man as well.
“I’m going to be a billionaire,” Martinez predicts.
He’s taking the time to learn about profit margins, shops getting their cut of the profits and reinvesting in his product. He bought an electric scooter with some of his profits, but half the money returns to the company.
Naturally, his favorite subject in school is math.
“I’m a math magician,” Martinez said. “I’m the only one in my class that’s in multiplication.”
His parents help, of course, throughout the process. However, when it comes to market time, he’s a one-man show.
Martinez’s mother said he makes the sales, counts change and answers questions at the market, essentially asking her to step to the side.
Bruggeman and her husband are ecstatic to see Dax developing such skills at a young age.
“It’s such a perfect real-world experience,” Bruggeman said. “We’re pretty proud of what he’s been doing.”
Bruggeman also said that they’ll do this as long as he thinks it’s fun. Does Martinez think that will change anytime soon?
“No,” he said. “That’ll never happen.”
Glenwood Springs Post Independent reporter Rich Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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