When a major bullying incident proved to be the last straw, this mom from British Columbia took her daughter out of mainstream education and turned to "unschooling" for answers. Three years later, her daughter is thriving and is even running her own candle company.
"The bullying started when Lily was in grade one and 6 years old, from 2019 to 2020," Ms. Greatrex told The Epoch Times. "There were so many incidents. There were rocks that they would throw at her; one actually cut her right above the eye. It wasn’t just physical bullying, there was also emotional and mental bullying, like pretending to cut her hair or threatening to lock her outside in the cold."
Lily said: "When I was at school I would sit there and think, 'Why me?' 'What did I do to be bullied?'"
HomeschoolingAfter a major incident, Ms. Greatrex and her husband, Sergio Moreno, pulled their daughter out of school for good.
"Sergio witnessed her bully pushing Lily down the stairs," Ms. Greatrex said. "Lily and her bully were both at the top of the stairs, and this boy was trying to rip Lily’s backpack. ... As Lily was trying to get him off her backpack, he pushed her down the stairs. Thank goodness Sergio was there to help pick her up.
"For Lily and her experiences, because she has ADHD, homeschooling was the best solution, as not only did it prevent the bullying, but it also allowed us to specifically work with her learning needs."
Ms. Greatrex channeled her own entrepreneurial spirit into working out the best homeschooling schedule for her daughter. As it turned out, the best schedule was none at all.
"The homeschooling method that we follow is called 'unschooling,'" she said. "Essentially, there is no schedule, and everything is a learning moment. We can be at the grocery store, and we’ll be doing math and learning about budgeting, or we can be in the car ... every day is different.
"We don't blame the school," she said. "Unfortunately, with all the kids involved at Lily’s school, and her bullying, there simply wasn’t enough support for all their different needs."
Lily loves learning at her own pace. "You don’t get bullied every day. ... It’s fun!" she said. "You get so much support, and you’re not getting hurt every day and not having to hide that kids hit me."
Lily Lou’s AromasThrough homeschooling, Lily has grown more confident, more communicative, and more creative. She no longer struggles with learning and has caught up with her schoolwork. She's even found a brand-new passion.
"My mom is obsessed with candles," Lily said. "When I found out they had harmful chemicals in them, I thought, 'Why don't we make our own, without the 'baddies' that give us headaches?' My mom said, 'Wait, what? We’re gonna make our own candles?' I said, 'Yeah! We just need our own ingredients and vessels!'"
Lily was "mostly self-taught," besides a jump-start from a family friend named Sara with experience making candles. Lily Lou’s Aromas, a small company selling homemade candles, wax melts, and room sprays was founded in 2021.
Lily showcases her handmade products via social media. "I like writing my own voiceovers and editing all the videos together," Lily said. "When I’m not working and hanging out with my friends, my team helps me and picks up where I left off."
Feedback from a new customer who ordered "like, a bajillion candles" from the 9-year-old entrepreneur made an especially big impact on Lily.
"I did a local delivery," she said. "I knocked on her door and I heard her rumbling down the stairs. ... She ran so quickly and hugged me so tight I couldn’t breathe. She screamed, 'I love you so much, thank you so much for the candles!' and all I could say was, 'Thank you!' ... After I had left, within an hour she had placed another order."
"I think that’s epic for a 9-year-old," Ms. Greatrex said. "She has big dreams to be able to scale out her business and create more product lines. That being said, if she does change her mind about what she wants to pursue in the future, we’re 100 percent behind her on her journey."
Lily would love to have her own warehouse and eventually sell her products through major retail stores around the world. She also wants to continue sharing her story to help others and advocates journaling as a way to keep track of goals and drives.
"I would say, get into the habit of writing three things you want to achieve for the day," she said. "At night, you write down if you’ve done it, and how you feel ... just keep creating goals and reaching your goals."
Her mom said: "She’s incredibly inspiring and makes me so proud. I think the most rewarding part of being Lily’s mom is watching how epic she is, just getting to watch how incredible, kind, and passionate she is."
Lily has two personal mottos that keep her strong: "It’s okay, I got this," and, "If I can dream it, I can be it."
"I like these two," she said, "because it encourages me to keep on going and to not give up!"