ODA student focuses business, crafting skills toward charity.
Country Club resident Mira Khazanchi is only 15 years old, but she’s turning into quite the philanthropist.
Instead of keeping profits from her handmade beanie hats for dogs, she’s donating it to charity.
“Giving gives me more fulfillment than receiving,” Mira said with a shrug.
Since August, the sophomore at The Out-of-Door Academy has been putting her various skills — such as photography and graphic design — to use as she develops her nonprofit business, Barkin Beanies. She sells crocheted beanie hats for dogs online at Etsy.com.
To date, she has sold approximately 100 beanies and has gained 2,054 followers on Instagram.
“One of the Barkin Beanies even made it to South Korea for the Olympics,” Mira said, noting the customer posted it on Instagram. “I was shocked.”
Instagram has proven to be her launching pad. In August, she joined by creating accounts for her own dogs, Flossy and Ruby, and discovered an online dog community. Then, she created a business account for Barkin Beanies and announced her products were available on Etsy.com.
To promote the hats, she has run a contest for “model dogs,” set guidelines for posting pictures, encouraged buyers to post images of the hats on Instagram and tag Barkin Beanies and has offered discounts and promotions. Her hats are made to order.
“Through this process, I’ve learned so many business skills,” Mira said.
On March 3, Mira gave her first $1,000 donation to the Humane Society of Lakewood Ranch.
Shelter Manager Lori Bell said the Humane Society is actively looking for sites on which to build a permanent facility, and the organization will put Mira’s donation toward that project.
“There’s always food for the dogs, food for the cats, but her money will be used for the building fund,” Bell said. “We want to do something special.
“I was so impressed with a girl that young doing this on her own. To me, she’s just incredible,” she said.
Mira’s donation was 100% of what she’s earned from selling beanies. She pays for supplies with savings and money she earns from babysitting.
She wants to raise more, but is limited by how many beanies she can make alone. Although she’s fast, generally crafting one beanie in less than 30 minutes, she is having trouble keeping up with orders. She has a full class load, plays varsity basketball and participates in other extracurricular activities.
In February, she launched a new Lakewood Ranch club, Crocheting for a Cause, to help keep up. She hopes to rally a core group of experienced crocheters who can make hats. The group hasn’t secured a set schedule yet, but generally will meet once monthly.
Mira’s own interest in crocheting started last summer after she and her family visited Australia. Although her grandmother, Daljit Ranajee, tried to teach Mira to crochet when she was younger, Mira had struggled with technique. After her Australian vacation, she started watching YouTube videos on crocheting.
“I wanted another hobby,” she said. “I had this skill and I wanted to put it into use.”
Mira brainstormed with her mom and worked to create Barkin Beanies, which gained its nonprofit status in October.
Rimi Khazanchi says her daughter has always been entrepreneurial in spirit and a giver by nature.
“She knows she’s been blessed in life,” Rimi Khazanchi said. “We’ve always told her, you’ve got food on the table, a roof over your head and your health — you have everything. She really gets it. The sky is the limit for her.”
Anyone wishing to join Crocheting for a Cause can email Mira at [email protected]. To purchase a beanie, visit etsy.com.