Jaequan Faulkner is a 13-year-old entrepreneur with big dreams. Since 2016, he has operated a hot dog stand outside of his home to make some money during summer vacation.
However, the Minneapolis teen was recently forced to shut down his operation when someone noticed that his stand wasn’t sanctioned by the city. He was understandably upset, but little did he know that help was on its way.
“When I realized what it was, I said, ‘No, we’re not going to just go and shut him down’ like we would an unlicensed vendor,” Minneapolis Environmental Health Director Dan Huff told CNN.
“We can help him get the permit. Let’s make this a positive thing and help him become a business owner.”
But getting the hot dog stand in compliance with the city was going to take some money and effort. Faulkner would have to adhere to health codes just like any other business.
As a courtesy, a health inspector spent time teaching Faulkner how to take the temperature of the hot dogs, ensuring that they were above 140 degrees. They even brought a thermometer and hand washing station.
And if that wasn’t enough, they helped raise the funds necessary for the ambitious teenager to obtain the necessary permits.
“The health inspectors all pitched in and helped him get his permit,” Huff said. “We worked with him to make sure he was following all of the health codes.”
Planning the future
After undergoing training and getting his documentation settled with the city, Faulkner was ready to get back to selling hot dogs. But the city went one step further to ensure the success of Faulkner’s enterprise.
“We tried to gauge if it was this kid really wanted to have a business or if he was just trying to earn some money,” said Ann Fix, program manager for the Northside Food Business Incubator, told CNN.
The program, part of a larger non-profit called the Northside Economic Opportunity Network, works to empower underprivileged entrepreneurs.
“Because he was so passionate about having a go at this and owning a business, the city offered to help,” Fix said.
Fix has been meeting with Faulkner regularly to teach the young entrepreneur business skills, and help develop a plan for the future. The teen intends to use his revenue to purchase a cart on a permanent location.
“The thought is to get a permanent location with primo traffic so he could sell hot dogs,” Fix said.
Faulkner already has the rest of the summer planned out. His first permit is for 10 days. A local police precinct has sponsored his next permit, and The Urban League and a community church will sponsor the next 10-day permits after that, according to CNN.
By the time Faulkner wraps up, it will be the start of a new school year.
The adults helping to guide Faulkner in the right direction marvel at his determination and work ethic. But the 13-year-old said he enjoys running his business, and doesn’t feel like it’s a chore.
“It’s the cooking and the people,” he told CNN. “I see someone go by with a frown on their face. I’m there with a smile, then I see a smile on their face. I just made a smile on somebody’s face by selling them a hot dog.”