Olivia Irvine on ‘Staying Toasty’

This 14-year-old Canadian entrepreneur started her business three years ago and shows no signs of slowing down.

Olivia Irvine has a thriving business selling a variety of items to help people enjoy the great outdoors. Her products capture the attention of attendees at popular RV trade shows such as Canada’s Toronto Spring Camping and RV Show, the Peterborough Home Show, the Ottawa RV Show and the NTP-STAG Expo in Florida. Irvine is also an active member of the RV Women’s Alliance (RVWA), a network designed to accelerate the personal and professional growth of women in the RV industry.

And she isn’t even old enough to have a driver’s license.

Irvine is the founder of the Roasty Toasty Campfire Company, based in Haliburton, Ontario, Canada.

When she started her business in 2021 at age 11, she only sold firewood.

“Where I live, it’s a big cottage country and a lot of people come up here during the summer for camping and all different kinds of things,” Irvine says. “When I started selling firewood, we already had a lot of trees that were down that we could use. So, there were a lot of resources that I already had that I could use to start my business.”

Irvine was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug after reading a financial book with her dad. “Rich Kid, Smart Kid” by Robert Kiyosaki is all about giving kids a financial head start. Irvine decided she’d get her head start by starting her own business, with plans to save the money she makes to one day pay for college.

“When I started selling the firewood, I knew that I wanted it to be more than that, because I wanted to earn lots of money to be able to go to college,” Irvine says. “So, I came up with new ideas and new products to sell.”

Today, Roasty Toasty Campfire sells firewood, apparel, metal signs, fire rings, smokeless fire pits and heated chairs. Roasty Toasty goods are sold at select grocers and outfitters near Irvine’s hometown and are available through her website roastytoastycampfire.com.

Irvine also sells her products at various home and RV shows. It was at the Toronto RV Show that she decided to join the RV Women’s Alliance after an inspiring talk by Stacey Robinson of Great Canadian RV, a dealership network.

“She’s very positive, and she really believes that if you set your mind to something, you can achieve it and you can achieve further than what you think you can,” Irvine says.

At the Toronto RV Show, Irvine attended a breakfast hosted by the RV Women’s Alliance where she won free tickets to the group’s annual symposium in Chicago.

Irvine enjoyed meeting new people at the symposium and got even more encouragement to keep building her business and going after her goals.

“They talked about how it doesn’t matter your age or your gender. If you want to do something, you can do it,” she says of the symposium speakers. “Even if somebody tells you that you can’t do it, you can still do it no matter what.”

For Irvine, Roasty Toasty Campfire is just the beginning. Her long-term goals include going to Dawson College in Montreal to study interior design and later open her own home design business.

“I always wanted to be an interior designer, because I’m really into art and I would go buy house magazines and look at them and see ways that I would want to change it,” Irvine says, adding that she believes Roasty Toasty Campfire Company is preparing her for her future interior design career. “I do want to open my own business for interior design. I think having the business knowledge will help me. And if I wanted to get other jobs, it would probably look pretty good on my résumé saying that I own my own business.”

Roasty Toasty Campfire Company is doing more for Irvine than filling her résumé and college fund.

“She used to be very shy and is now quite outgoing and will talk with customers and network with potential customers with confidence,” says her mother, Lisa Irvine. “She has a sense of pride in herself and of her business, and she’s learned about perseverance.”

That perseverance helps her juggle being a business owner while being a high school student. Irvine spends most of her time when she’s not at school or doing homework checking emails and inventory, visiting local stores that carry her products to make sure they’re stocked and sorting through product shipments.

“Sometimes it is a struggle to be able to hang out with my friends,” Irvine says. “But I like staying busy.”

Yet this busy businesswoman manages to make time for competitive dance, too.

Her advice to parents raising their own budding entrepreneurs is to offer help without holding on too tight.

“Parents should give their kids all the help that they can, but don’t step on their toes too much,” she says. “Let them do their own thing.”

Irvine’s father, Sean Irvine, says he and his wife help their daughter with emails, invoices, inventory and ordering. At trade shows, they help her set up her booths.

Sean Irvine recommends that other parents looking to inspire their children to take on lofty projects shouldn’t go it alone.

“Find something they are passionate about, and help them find people who can guide them and encourage and motivate them,” he says.

Olivia Irvine has words of wisdom to offer too. Her advice for other young people with entrepreneurial aspirations is simple: “Believe in yourself,” she says. “If you think you can do it, then you can definitely do it. Just stay positive and don’t let people tell you that you can’t.”

Javacia Harris Bowser

For more information, visit seejanewritebham.com.

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