Entrepreneur teaches next generation
By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist
Danica Connell has been an entrepreneur since she secured her first tutoring job in the seventh grade.
Making $5 an hour, her first pupil would ride the bus home with her, where she would then help her friend brush up on math skills until her mom came to pick her up.
As Connell got older, her list of students grew. By the time she was at Shelby County High School, she was making $16 an hour.
That wage went up to $25 an hour by the time she made it to college, and before she knew it, she had put herself through college teaching others how to do math.
In addition to her 15 years of tutoring, she further supplemented her education by working at a local physical therapist’s office, and picking up odds and ends at yard sales that she would then turn a profit for on eBay.
Her success has been a lesson that has stuck with her over the years, and one that she has endeavored to pass on to her two daughters, Danslen and Daniley.
If you came out to Cowboy Day in Columbiana on Leap Day, you likely happened upon Shug’s Coffee and Hot Cocoa Bar set up under a big yellow tent on Main Street.
Connell and her girls ventured into a profitable cottage business last summer for the first time with their summer variation of a homegrown concession stand.
Selling homemade lemonade in the summer (Little Darlin’s Lemonade Bar) and warm drinks at events in the winter, Connell has found a practical way to teach her girls about hard work and the more concrete facts of running a business.
She started by helping them develop recipes that required quality ingredients every customer would appreciate.
She then helped them develop a plan to execute their business venture by planning ahead for crowds, pre-squeezing lemons for juice the week before or premixing hot chocolate ingredients so everything would run smoothly on event day.
She’s also made sure they understand cost and quality of service before they show up to do business.
“I want my girls to know that if they offer a good quality product, combined with outstanding service, they can make money doing anything, but they have to work,” she said. “I want them to show up prepared and with a plan in mind so they can be successful.”
Connell, an engineer for a local utility, still has an entrepreneur’s streak all her own.
In addition to her day job, she runs a successful side hustle, managing four beach properties she has collected through hard work over the last several years.
When we asked her oldest daughter, Daniley, what she has taken away from their mother-daughter business ventures besides what it means to have a good work ethic, her answer added another layer to the lesson: “It means a lot to me to be able to get out and make people happy.”