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More and more Valley kids are putting their power into projects around the community, working behind the counter and behind the scenes. Today’s local young people have expanded their activities well beyond the scope of school and entertainment. By doing so, they’re not only strengthening their community, they’re growing as individuals—and, sometimes, they end up making their dreams come true.
“Wait until you grow up” wasn’t a message the Harrison kids heard from their parents, at least in regard to exercising creativity and responsibility. So, they saw no reason to wait.
With their mother, Kim, steering the ship, Shane, 16, and Kayla, 15, have sailed into the world of business. In a house hunkered behind a friendly twig?fence?on?First?Avenue?in Ketchum— between Felix’s Restaurant and the Friesen Gallery—the family’s hip tea bar and restaurant, Strega, opened in December 2003. The teens work alongside (and sometimes ahead of) their mother, and their father, Michael, a product designer, occasionally drops in.
“It’s basically my life now,” exclaims Shane with a good-natured laugh. “I just go home to sleep.”
Shane has taken command of the tea bar, where he works with a menu of close to 90 different teas and a variety of coffee drinks. When someone wants beer or wine, he has to find his mother. (In Idaho, alcohol can’t be served by anyone under the age of 19 years.) Although Shane works every day, he also has fun. His friends stop by after school, and several of them work alongside him at the tea bar.
When business slows down, the friends and fellow students often gather at tables to do homework. That’s part of the fun, according to them—as is the process of learning the properties of the myriad white, green, and black teas that are now available, and becoming knowledgeable salespeople.
While all coffee houses in the Valley welcome young customers, the Harrison kids are striving to create their own niche in the market by gathering people of all generations together, especially at night. Strega is modeled after teahouses the family visited in Spain.
Shane concedes that he needed a boost from an adult like his mother to keep his dream on track. “If I was doing it by myself, I probably wouldn’t have done it,” he admits.
His mother agrees that her part in the launch of Strega was substantial, but points out that the kids were the driving force. Her life experience lent practicality, a rudder, and financial backing.
“It was a democracy until I’d say, ‘That won’t work,’ and then it was a dictatorship,” Kim says. “Creatively and conceptually, though, it was a team effort. If they didn’t feel comfortable with our plan, it wouldn’t have happened.”
Kayla shared her ideas “on everything” while Strega was in the planning phase. “I mostly agreed with my mom, but I improved on some things, like choosing the linoleum. I didn’t want to have a boring kitchen floor.” Thanks to Kayla, the floor is a cheerful composite of brightly colored squares. Kayla also voted to lease the small house on First Avenue, and has stepped up as the employee in charge of scheduling job duties for the crew. Allowing her life to be consumed by work isn’t her goal, however.
“I don’t want to be too much like a serious businesswoman, because it’s stressful,” says Kayla. “I have other things I want to do, too.” >>>