Backed by her businessman dad, Harlie Haycox, 11, has become one of the UK's youngest entrepreneurs after launching American-themed Harlie's Diner
Most girls her age are focused on their SATs and going to Taylor Swift concerts, but 11-year-old Harlie Haycox has become one of Britain’s youngest entrepreneurs.
The schoolgirl launched a restaurant in Leeds after dreaming up everything from the menu to the décor, branding and music.
She was inspired to set up Harlie’s Diner by her serial entrepreneur and investor dad, Matt Haycox.
Harlie said: “I’ve become a bit of an Amazon and eBay expert, finding all sorts of fun, neon signs to put up on the walls of the diner.
“I’ve used this and Instagram to help bring the diner to life, encouraging customers to snap pictures and use hashtags.
“I’m really pleased with my most recent purchase of two angel wings, that you can stand in between and take pictures of yourself in front of them.
“My dad has taught me a lot about using social media to grow a business, so I’m really getting the hang of it.”
Inspired by growing up in Las Vegas
With her father’s financial backing, she also dreamed up the idea of having hot pink Chopper delivery bikes and serving Oreo-topped waffles with chocolate sauce.
The all-American-style diner celebrates her time living in Las Vegas, where she spent four years and regularly visited diners and milkshake shops that were open late to accommodate the energetic nightlife.
It was here, at the age of nine, she started to create her own holiday-themed milkshakes for the family business Sticks and Shakes, a store serving more than 500 milkshake flavours.
Harlie said: “When we were in Las Vegas, we would import English chocolate bars because they were much harder to find and everyone loved them.
“My favourite flavour of milkshake is Dime bar, but I also really like Oreo-flavoured desserts.”
The restaurant is family-friendly but also stays true to the nightlife of the city, staying open to 6am – way past her bedtime.
It serves an array of American classics, from beef patties and hot wings to shakes and waffles.
Schoolfriends offer a helping hand
The young tycoon enlisted help from school friends to sample the menu and select the best flavours for the US snacks and shakes, including loaded chilli cheese fries and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup milkshakes.
Harlie also picked the colour scheme for the restaurant, which features a bright pink sign above the door and hot pink scattered among the interior.
She’s even invested in fuchsia pink Chopper bikes to sit outside the restaurant, not only to give it an authentic American feel, but to also deliver her delicious dishes to the homes of Leeds.
A family of entprepreneurs
Harlie’s father, Matt, 37, is the co-founder of Harlie’s Diner and primary investor of his daughter’s new venture.
He said: “It’s a really exciting opportunity for Harlie and I’m thrilled to see her take the reins and spearhead the business. It seems entrepreneurialism is in the family DNA.
“I didn’t start my first business until I was 15, so Harlie’s streets ahead of me, and has that instinct for what people will like that any good entrepreneur needs.
“I’ll always be on hand to offer my advice, but it’s nice to see her come into her own.”