Eva Ulreich is likely one of the busiest 8-year-olds in Loudoun County.
She’s turned her mother’s living room into a makeshift factory, whipping up bracelets, necklaces and ornaments to fulfill the orders that have poured in during the past two months.
“It’s grown bigger than we would’ve ever anticipated,” said Eva’s mother, Laurie Hudicek.
Eva didn’t have any plans to become an entrepreneur overnight. The idea to make and sell jewelry and other wares was sparked by a single paragraph that caught her eye in her third-grade science book. It stated that the blue whale—the world’s largest animal, weighing in at 420,000 pounds—is almost extinct.
“Extinct means they’re never coming back,” Eva said during a recent interview at her home.
So she got to work to try to change that. That weekend, she made rubber band bracelets and sold them from her front yard. “I made a few bucks but not much,” she said. “I came inside and I was sad that it didn’t work out. So mommy told me we could start a business online making string bracelets.”
With Hudicek’s help, Eva launched a Facebook page—Eva Saves the Whales—and began handcrafting an improved version of her initial bracelets. Instead of rubber bands, she now uses string and medallions made from clay. She paints a whale—a blue whale, orca, narwhal or humpback—on each medallion. In recent weeks, she’s also expanded her inventory to include tree ornaments, coasters and wall paintings, thanks to a large donation of clay from the Sculpey oven-bake clay company.
So far, she’s sold close to 200 items, to customers as far away as Berlin, and raised more than $1,500. The first $1,000 went to California-based charity Save the Whales. Her goal is to raise another $1,000 for the Defenders of Wildlife, a Washington, D.C. organization that cracks down on wildlife poaching and trafficking.
Hudicek said her daughter has always had a soft spot in her heart for animals, but she’s never seen her so moved by something as the endangered whales.
“This is all her,” she said. “And she’s gotten so many people, including me, interested and concerned about saving the whales.”
Eva’s not sure where she’ll take her successful venture from here. Her mother said it might be worth creating a foundation to support efforts to save endangered whales. Eva said she’d like to do that, and creating and selling her artwork may be the way to do it.
“She’s my artist,” Hudicek said. The walls in her living room are adorned with paintings and drawings from her daughter and her younger brother.
For now, Eva will continue to churn out jewelry with the hope of protecting an animal she’s never seen before. And she hopes to change that too in the coming years. Maybe a whale watching trip is in order.
Find and purchase Eva’s artwork at her Eva Saves the Whales Facebook page.