Young sisters pursue dreams with tapioca stand in Hoboken

HOBOKEN, New Jersey -- Two young sisters from Hoboken are proving it's never too early to become an entrepreneur.

Elise, who is just 7 years old, is one very ambitious girl. She approached her parents about starting her own business with her sister, Coco, who is just 3. They've gone into business selling Elise's favorite dessert --tapioca pudding.

The Papakonstantinou family saw this as an opportunity to teach Elise life skills not offered in schools, realizing Elise might learn more if she sold something she really loved.

Elise and Coco's Tapioca Stand was born.

By creating the business, Elise has become a quick study in skills like math, unit economics and packaging, not the usual concerns of a child in grade school. Beyond learning the basics of business with the help of her parents, she had to figure out where she could sell her product.

Elise chose to start her pop-up inside her favorite restaurant, Alfalfa, on Washington Street in Hoboken.

The owners at Alfalfa were very supportive and loved the idea of hosting a tapioca pop-up stand, mentoring the two girls and even bringing in their brand team to help Elise and Coco with their stand's signage and packaging design.

"Initially, Elise was nervous, but who isn't? As young entrepreneurs ourselves, we were nervous as well." Andrew Arrospide co-owner of Alfalfa. said. "Elise is wonderful to work with, she listens to our feedback, and she is a natural salesperson," Arrospide added.

Arrospide's favorite flavor is Elise & Coco's banana tapioca.

"The tapioca is delicious, and it's really exciting because a flavored tapioca stand is not something you see every day," he said.

Elise charges $3 for her tapioca, and the proceeds are donated to The Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County.

Elise's father, Konstantine, has marveled at the changes he has seen in his oldest daughter.

"The biggest transformation we've seen in Elise is how she deals with rejection. Initially, the rejection bothered Elise, but as she interacted with hundreds of people, it became nothing, it no longer bothered her," he said.

Susan Tang, Elise's mother, is proud of her young entrepreneur.

"As a mother and as a woman, I want her to understand that nothing in life comes easy, you have to work hard for it. Elise now knows the value of money, the importance of not giving up, and that she has the power to become who she wants to be," Tang said.

Elise wants to become a chef when she grows up, and she seems to be well on her way. In the meantime, she wants to keep growing her business and eventually approach Whole Foods to see if they would host her stand.

Elise hopes that other kids will be inspired by what she has done.

Her friend's parents have approached the family about how their kids can start a business, too, so Elise's parents created Little Curiosity Labs, an incubator for young entrepreneurs.

Their goal is to spread the passion of entrepreneurship to young people. "We want to show parents that they can execute the same ideas or similar ideas and can teach their kids valuable life skills that can help bring their children's dream projects to life."

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