Video by Ana Sebescen/CNS-TV
ANNAPOLIS — At age 12, Grady Booth doesn’t have a driver’s license or a credit card.
But he’s making a tidy living creating wallets for people who do, using an unusual material: colorful duct tape.
What started as one boy’s reaction to the cost of a leather wallet in a shopping mall has turned into a little business for the entrepreneurial tween. He’s making about $30 a month selling his colorful accessories at Fun For All!, a toy store in downtown Annapolis, and to his classmates at Key School.
When he first started making the duct tape creations, Grady had no intention of turning it into a business. Nor did he have any clue how to make a wallet from tape.
He just noticed that his father’s friend’s wallet was falling apart.
“It was really old and all of his credit cards where falling out of place,” he said. “‘I said…tomorrow I’ll bring you a duct tape wallet.”
So the Key School seventh-grader turned to YouTube for a lesson.
“I couldn’t take it,” Grady said. “I’m not very good with that kind of patience…I kind of just taught myself after that.”
He wasn’t going to charge anything, and was struck when his father’s friend gave him $10.
It marked the beginning of Grady’s business. His first customers: his classmates.
“All of a sudden, I brought them to school,” Grady said. “Everyone was like ‘Holy Cow,’ look at this.”
The wallets feature things like Velcro pockets, clear ID holders, name carvings on the front, and custom-made designs with bright colors, polka dots and zebra prints. Grady is not only making his guy friends happy, but also satisfying a growing female clientele.
“I had a bunch of girls asking me for them,” he said.
Depending on how well the owner cares for the wallet, it should last for about six months, Grady said. If they rip or tear, Grady will fix them for free.
Grady’s wallets cost between $7 and $15, depending on the style, size, print and material. He gets his supplies at Michael’s craft store and True Value hardware.
The owner of Grady’s first wallet — his father’s friend — suggested he look beyond the Key School and find a retail store to sell his product. He started walking into downtown Annapolis toy stores, searching for a buyer.
At first, several stores turned him down. But Grady kept at it.
“He didn’t let it get to him,” said Grady’s mom, Heide Ruegg. “He is obviously over that hump.”
Jessica Clampitt and her husband – who own the Fun For All! toy store – decided to carry Grady’s wallets on consignment.
“He came in, approached us,” Clampitt said. “My husband thought that it was a really good idea, that he’s an enterprising young man.”
Grady makes a profit of about $30 per month on average.
Of his profits, $10 goes into savings, $10 goes to restocking supplies, and the rest goes to charity or school lunches for classmates who forget to bring their own, he said.
“There are so many kids that, like, don’t have as nearly as much as I do,” he said. “And how fortunate I am, it’s kind of nice to think about doing something else for somebody.”
Grady dreams of becoming a guitar player “in a big-time band,” or a pilot. Or an architect. Like many 12-year-olds, he’s not sure.
Still, for now, he has no plans to abandon his business.
“I don’t plan stopping doing wallets anytime soon,” he said.