By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — She’s only 12, but is on her way to a solid financial future — and she owes her success to popcorn.
Amaya Lessard is the face behind Amaya’s Kernels For College. She is selling popcorn at the weekly Concerts on the Common to save money to help finance her college education.
“I talked to my mom about college and she was telling me how expensive it is,” Amaya said. “I wanted to start saving now.”
The eighth-grader began to research the costs behind a small popcorn business, including how much the machine and supplies would cost, plus how much profit she could make per bag.
Her parents loaned her some money for start-up costs and the popping began.
Amaya also needed a gig.
She reached out to Steve Lee and the Londonderry Arts Council about setting up her popcorn popper and display at the concert venue on the Town Common.
She is now selling drinks and bags of popcorn to concert-goers.
“Steve was so gracious when she called and brought her on for the season,” said Amaya’s mother, Ola Lessard. “He and all the amazing people who run the series have really just made her feel like part of the concert family.”
Lessard said the experience has proven quite successful in many ways, including giving her daughter drive and a good sense of responsibility.
Amaya said her first week on the job was quite successful, bringing in about $80 in sales. She charges $1 per bag of popcorn.
“It was a good start,” she said.
She pops most of her corn at the concerts to make sure it’s hot and fresh for her customers.
Amaya also pays back a portion of her weekly profits from popcorn sale to her parents, plus she sets aside money to restock her popcorn supplies.
The rest is free and clear, and in the college account.
Amaya said she always wanted to sell things and try to save money. Before popcorn, she tried her hand at other smaller ventures, including baked goods and handmade jewelry.
“I would usually stand outside in front of my house and wait for the neighbors to come home,” she said.
When Amaya decided to do something on a grander scale, it was popcorn that turned out to be the summer ticket for some serious financial savings.
Amaya hopes to continue her Kernels For College campaign throughout the school year. She hopes to secure some gigs at school and other community events.
“I will keep saving until I find a college and find out how much I need to save,” she said.
The next Concert on the Common is July 17 and features the Jamie Lynn Hart Band.