SwapShop: A Firsthand Look at this Startup Success

Hi Techgirlz! I’m Logan. My sisters and I started SwapShop last summer at the first annual TechGirlz Entrepreneur Camp. SwapShop is an online website where kids can trade artist trading cards (ATCs) safely. ATCs are mini works of art the size of a baseball card that are made and traded by people of all ages around the world.

My youngest sister, Hayley, heard about ATCs last year and started making them. She loved it, and soon got us all hooked too, but there was a disappointment. Because of the government’s online safety rules for kids, there wasn’t a website that kids could trade their ATCs with each other. So Hayley came up with the idea of SwapShop, all four of us started building the business during the week of camp. We’re still actively working towards the goal of having a useable, fun, safe website where kids can trade ATCs.

Miss Tracey asked us to give you all an update of what we’ve been up to the past year. Soon after camp was over, we had some conference calls with Mr. Born, the “funder” of SwapShop. He helped us think of some small things we could be doing every day to make SwapShop profitable in the long run. So we started spreading the word, emailing ladies in tech who had “entrepreneurial spirits,” and connecting with adult ATC Facebook pages and Yahoo groups. An art teacher in Canada heard about our idea, loved what we were doing, and excitedly offered to hold a swap with us to help us get going.

Her enthusiasm led us to start an ATC club that fall. We gathered a group of kids and met once a month to make ATCs. Towards the end of the year, our group had not only traded with the class in Canada, but also had the opportunity to swap with an African school!

Meanwhile, we started researching the benefits of making art. We found that art is truly therapeutic! Studies have shown that depression and anxiety associated with chemo therapy are reduced when the patient makes art. How cool! We decided that we wanted to use a portion of SwapShop’s future earnings to donate ATC supplies to cancer patients in hospitals.

But the benefits of art don’t just apply to cancer patients—art is also great therapy for the elderly. We organized 3 summer classes at our local nursing home and taught the residents how to make ATCs. The residents loved it! Many of them excitedly traded their cards with us and our friends. They proudly displayed their folders of ATCs to anyone who passed by.

This winter, we met Barbara Allen, an awesome lady in Philly who encourages children to make art and, at the same time, help other kids. She showed us all around the Fresh Artists’ studio and gave us suggestions on how to raise funds, along with her cheerful encouragement. (And yummy homemade cookies!)

This summer, to continue to spread the word about SwapShop, we are hosting an ATC challenge. During the month of July, participants are making an ATC every other day, then voting on the winner for the round. (And there are some great prizes for 3 winners! Check out our challenge and join us at www.horsemorsels.biz/atc ).

At the end of the challenge, we’re holding a clothesline art sale with the ATCs everyone has made during the challenge to raise money for Fresh Artists. This challenge is helping us  better understand about how SwapShop will function. We have also started making ATC tutorial videos. It’s our goal to make new videos all the time for SwapShop, so users can always have inspiration for their designs. We’ve made 6 videos to date. If you’d like to see them, visit our Youtube channel.

Our biggest news, though, is that we are currently creating our website! Tracey introduced us to Pamela, an awesome WordPress website designer. I’m working with her and her sidekick Cheo to build the site, while my sisters are working on the content (which includes the words and pictures). We have set August 30th as a goal to have a working website up, running, and functional. That’s a month and a half from now!

The next month and a half will keep us really busy and working really hard. Not only on the website, but we’re also looking for financial backers to get us started making ATC kits, corporate sponsors to offer us discounts on art supplies, and companies who will help us make SwapShop products for storing and displaying ATCs. But it’s going to be worth every busy moment. We’ve come a long way to get here, and it’s really neat to see our dream come to life.

If you have any questions for us, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at ourswapshop@hotmail.com.