Entrepreneur teen stocks county stores
By Sue Tiffin
Published May 30, 2017
Erik Morrison is a natural born businessman.
At 14, the Wilberforce resident runs Erikord Survival, a thriving paracord products company that supplies his designs at retailers across the county and through three online stores – all while also managing Grade 9.
But Erikord Survival, which Erik launched when he was 10, isn’t his first foray into business.
When the entrepreneur was about three years old, he started his first company, Erik’s Landscaping.
“I wouldn’t call that a full business,” he says. “I might have done like $100 in sales, total, and that was mostly my parents and my grandma. Basically, I did landscaping and hoped for a tip. I didn’t do it by asking. I just started doing it and I hoped they would pay.”
“The family would hire him for odd jobs around the yard that a three-year-old could perform,” says his dad, Mike Morrison. “He had a great work ethic.”
Erik ran that business until he was about 7, when he became attracted to the appeal of crafts. EM Store was launched.
“I was making birch bark gift tags, a pine cone garland, bookmarks and little craft stuff,” he says. “EM Store was basically a cart with wheels on it that I would roll out when family came over. I probably did $200 in sales on that.”
“From an early age, Erik realized that money could be made making and selling products and crafts, at least to his family and friends,” says Morrison. “He also learned a little hard work, such as raking, would earn him a few bucks.”
Erik was in Grade 5 when he came across a tutorial in a book about how to make a bracelet out of paracord – lightweight nylon cord that can bear weight up to 550 pounds.
He started making bracelets out of the cord, and brought some of his designs to school.
When Trish Gautreau, an educational assistant in Erik’s class, saw his invention, she loved it.
“I told him he should fly with it,” she says.
Gautreau brought Erik’s products to A Slice of the North in Kinmount, where she estimates more than 200 have since been sold.
“I thought it was a great idea for a young boy with great ideas to have the chance to follow his dreams,” she says.
Erik acknowledges he wasn’t the first to create paracord bracelets, but that his idea was to redesign some of the more complicated survival products out there.
“I wanted to try to separate it all and make a cheaper one,” he says.
From there, he started making keychains out of paracord as well, including fishing survival kit keychains that include two hooks, two rubber worms and fishing line packaged inside, and a clean water survival kit keychain that holds two water purification tablets and a paper filter. He also sells a flint whistle survival bracelet that comes with flint, a whistle and a striker. When he’s not in school, he’s working on how to create his next product, a fire starting kit. The bracelets and keychains sell at a suggested retail rate of $6 to $15.
To date, he’s sold more than 2,600 products.
Erik is busy as a student, but he finds time to create the products where he can, sometimes as he’s watching TV.
“I order in the supplies, the hooks, the worms,” he said. “I assemble the kits myself, I knot it myself. My dad showed me how to tie knots. It’s one thing to have the knot, but it’s another thing to make it nice so you don’t see the insides.”
But he doesn’t just design and create what he sells – he also manages the retail side of the business as well, ensuring his product is in stores throughout the area. After they began selling well at A Slice of the North, he approached Agnew’s General Store in his hometown.
“I just walked in, and asked if they wanted to sell my products,” he says. “We made up what money they would take and what money I would get, which was really reasonable because I was in Grade 5. Now, the stores get a little more.”
After Agnew’s was on board and sales were good, he set his sights on V&S Department Store.
“I approached Stedman’s with a stand and they said yes,” he says. “They also called me relentless, because I asked them to get better store space after a couple of weeks.”
Erik says his family is supportive, but he’s usually motivated to market his products himself.
“I start the conversation, for sure,” he says. “He compared products that he could buy with ones he could make, and realized his were of better quality,” says Morrison. “Stores quickly gave Erik a chance.”
Wilberforce Pharmacy and Boshkung Brewing Co. in Carnarvon also carry Erikord products, and Algonquin Outfitters has just placed an order for 200 items to sell in six of their stores.
“Every month I try to get another store,” says Erik. “Try.”
Erikord fishing survival kit keychains have also been featured in a monthly subscription box for Never Enough Tactical, an Anaheim-based survival gear company. The paracord used to create the bracelets and keychains can be untied and used for fishing line, to build a shelter or for otherwise improvising in a survival situation.
“For 400 of them, I had 150 to do in two days, so then I got help,” he says.
At that point, Mike and Erik’s mom Jill were enlisted to assist Erik in fulfilling the order.
“There are a lot of knots to tie when making 400 items for one order,” says Morrison.
Tom Dibblee, HHSS information and communications technology teacher, called his student Erik a determined, passionate go-getter.
“I think he’ll do well,” says Dibblee. “He’s good, he’s keen, he’s devoted to learning new things and he always applies that knowledge to his company.”
Dibblee has seen Erik’s website, and has bought keychains himself, which he gave to his family.
“I think he will go far,” he says. “I hate to say this out loud, but he’ll be a dragon on Dragon’s Den.”
Erik and his designs have already had a shot to be on CBC, when he filmed scenes for Still Standing with host Jonny Harris this month.
“What a crazy smart kid,” said Harris of his experience with Morrison. “Every now and then you see a kid and think ‘OK, our country is in capable hands.’ That’s definitely the case with Eric. In fact, if Canada ever gets in deep trouble – we can pull it out using Erikord.”
Erik says he’d like to own another business one day, once he’s graduated high school. In preparation, he’ll take Grade 11 marketing next year.
“We often wonder what his next product will be,” says Morrison. “We’re very proud, to say the least.”
For more information, visit one of the stores noted in this article, or visit Erik’s website at ErikordSurvival.com