A little over a year ago, Avondale 14-year-old Daniel Smith began looking for a part-time job so he could begin making and saving his own money. He could have starting babysitting or mowing lawns, but Smith went in a different direction.
His mother Tamika saw this as an opportunity to teach her son about entrepreneurship and discerning his talents. She suggested he work for himself, selling drawings and paintings he'd created over the years.
Smith, who attends Archbishop Shaw, loved his mom's idea and immediately went to work, gathering all of his creations. He also started sketching and developing more designs to convert his colorful pieces into cash.
He decided to call his new artistic brand, "Demora Designs." His mom purchased an exhibit booth at the Westwego Farmers Market and the fledgling business took flight. Many of the young entrepreneur's family and friends swung by to support Smith, purchasing some of the work. He didn't make much money.
But it didn't matter. At least he'd made some money, he thought; and with his newly grossed cash in hand, like a typical teenager, he spent most of it on junk food and saved the rest. Those few bucks he'd earned were worth his effort. And attaining capital by utilizing his talents was his newfound passion.
"I decided to keep going because I wanted more money," Smith said.
As he continued to hustle and create art for the market, he noticed a favorable side effect. His artwork got better. The business serves two purposes.
"It's also to improve my drawings," Smith said.
Until recently, Smith had no formal art training. Everything he'd learned had been self-taught.
But he took an art class at Shaw, and then his work took off. Smith and his mother believe that the lessons and guidance he received from his art teacher, Ray Markase, helped Smith's gift blossom.
"His art teacher at Shaw has been a blessing. Things that he couldn't do before, he's doing now," Tamika said. "His sketching has improved. The detail, the quality, the presentation is better. With his teacher, my help and him pushing himself to want to do more, we've been getting some great results."
Despite his flair for art and the entrepreneurial drive, Smith is an introvert. He's shy and a young man of few words, but his paintings speak volumes...especially with his strengthened skillset.
His sharpened craft, coupled with his drive to gain a larger net profit, prompted Smith to, once again, set-up shop at the Westwego Farmers Market. The second time around, with paintings averaging between $5 to $35, Smith sold over $100 worth of art in less than five hours. That was more than he would've earned, as a teenager, working a part-time job at most companies. Smith was sold on being an entrepreneur.
"This is helping me because I'm starting out young to make more money in the future," he said.
And his mom, a single parent who is passionate about her son seeing his worth, couldn't have been happier.
"I don't want him to be thrust into working for an employer. I think that he has his own brand. I think that he's really good at it," Smith said.
She believes that this experience has imparted a greater level of responsibility in her son.
"One thing I am proud about is that he went back and invested that money into new art supplies," she said. "He is learning how to manage money."
Smith is currently in the process of making his Demora Designs brand a limited liability company. His mom is building a studio behind their home in Avondale so that Smith can have space to continue painting. He is also pursuing newfound interests in still photography and music beat productions.
Entering his sophomore year of high school, Smith already has plans to attend Full Sail University to gain skills in music production and art.
For more information on Smith's artwork, check out his Instagram page @Demora_Designs.