Twin sisters Brie and Tyler Stolberg thought outside the Lemonade Stand when they came up with their summer business venture in early July.
The 10-year-old Highland Park residents stayed inside and made hundreds of mask holders for sale. A mask holder? Think reading glasses holder, only thicker, more colorful, and necklace-like to support the mask for those in-between-face-covering moments in the pandemic era.
The custom-beaded mask holders come in a variety of fun patterns for kids, from cool-looking camouflage to bedazzling rainbow, as well as sophisticated designs for adults that incorporate trendy metallics and unique metal spacers.
The Braeside Elementary School students have even created and sold hyper-personal mask holders adorned with names of children, grandchildren, and schools.
“Everyone needs a mask, right?” Tyler says. “Why not make a fashion statement while wearing one?”
Lake County’s young Donna Karans had generated more than $3,000 in sales through August 21. Each mask holder is 20 inches long and costs $15. The twins’ father, Robin Stolberg, set up a bank account for the business, and their mother, Alison Stolberg, is the “momager” of Twin Beads by Tyler & Brie.
At least 10 of the Stolbergs’ Braeside schoolmates own a mask holder.
But the best part about the nascent business isn’t the money; it’s the twins’ collective heart. A portion of the proceeds from each mask holder sold in September will go to Chicago Lighthouse North in Glenview.
The Chicago Lighthouse—world renowned and one of the most comprehensive social service organizations in the country—serves the blind, visually impaired, disabled and Veteran communities throughout the Chicago area. Its services for more than 67,000 people include education, rehabilitation, employment, assistive technology, and other programs that help clients live as independently as possible.
Alison Stolberg has served as an Associate Board member of the organization that was founded in 1906 on the principles of equality, independence, and dignity for all.
“We want to donate The Chicago Lighthouse, definitely,” Tyler says “It’s what keeps us going.”
Ross Cosmetics & Boutique in Highland Park sold a dozen of the twins’ mask holders and recently ordered six more. The store on Central Avenue found room for the merchandise—after the 10-yearolds had made a PowerPoint presentation, right in the middle of the boutique.
“It was the cutest thing, the two of them dressed up in their best outfits, talking about themselves and their business,” Alison Stolberg recalls.
“We spent half the night getting ready for our presentation,” Brie says. “My sister and I wanted to make sure it was good and full of details. We told the owner we love beading and artwork.”
Ross’s owner didn’t just listen to the pitch-perfect pitch; she also videotaped the presentation.
Alison and her twins deliver the mask holders to buyers who live anywhere on the North Shore. (Imagine Nike Inc. owner Phil Knight, a box of sneakers tucked under his arm, knocking on your door). Word got out about the mask holders outside of Illinois. Tyler and Brie holders have been shipped to mask wearers in Florida, California, New York, and Wisconsin.
“The smile I see when someone holds their mask holder for the first time,” Brie says, referring to one of the many rewards of being a first-time business owner. “It’s exciting. We made five mask holders today. You should see one of the ones Tyler made.
It’s white and pink and yellow, really pretty.”
But Tyler’s favorite pattern is camouflage.
“It’s very my style,” she says. “And it goes with a lot of my clothes.”
A woman who lives near the Stolbergs received her mask holder in July. Her initial look, upon seeing the accessory?
“She also was very happy,” Brie says. “It was nice to see her react the way she did.”
Grandma Joann’s smile hasn’t abated a smidge since.
For more information about the twins’ venture and how to order mask holders, check out their Facebook page and Instagram account, each at “Twin Beads by Tyler & Brie.”