Teen turns hobby into successful business

Fifteen-year-old Josh Durham spends a lot of time on his computer, but he's not playing games or on social media, he's working on his business.

 "We just started cutting basic shapes and engraving things, and then it grew. We found some puzzles online to cut out, three-dimensional puzzles that we could assemble together," Durham said.

The shapes and pieces turned into something special, laser-cut animal heads.

"Yeah, it was more like a non-animal-killing version of taxidermy," Durham said.

It started as a hobby but has now turned into hard-earning cash.

"My wife was getting a little tired of seeing all the things we would make cluttering up the house. So it was like, 'Well, you need something to do with them. Try selling them or something so we can get rid of some,'" said Durham's father, Brian.

That's exactly what they did – and it caught the eye of a store owner in Clawson.

"They're graphic, they're clean. I like that simple brown, that hardboard really emphasizes the shapes without getting too busy by having another pattern on it, and I think they're funny. I love that giant dinosaur, it completely cracks me up. But it is good clean design, well done and very well priced," said Mary Liz Curtin, owner of Leon and Lulu.

Durham's creations are proudly displayed and for sale in the store.

The creations range in price from $24 to $85.

"I was pretty surprised. I didn't expect to sell that many so quickly and to get into a big retailer at such a young time in our company," Durham said. "We've sold about $30,000 in the last eight months and probably two-thirds of it are going towards my college fund."

The rest of the expenses go toward running the business.

What's next for Durham?

"I want to get through high school and just do the most I can do and then go off to college and maybe go to medical school and just see where it goes from there," he said.

To buy one of the animals, go to Leon and Lulu at 96 W. 14 Mile Road, Clawson.



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