Annie Blumenfeld graduated from high school this year but already has a diversity of business experience that would be the envy of people twice her age.
The 18-year-old credits her mom, Lisa Blumenfeld, for being her mentor and chief inspiration – although the mother says her child’s creativity goes way beyond the encouragement offered by any one person.
“She’s very creative. She sees a problem and attacks it with everything she has,” said Lisa, who has worked in the advertising industry. “When I was her age I was not that way.”
While the mother and daughter collaborated on their first national business project when Annie was in first grade, economics hit home in a sad way when Annie reached eighth grade. That’s when the Blumenfelds adopted a dog from a high-kill shelter and Annie learned that there isn’t enough money to ensure all stray dogs and cats aren’t euthanized.
For Annie, the economics related to the health of pets became a concern and quickly elevated to a passion.
She acted by launching Wags 4 Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to spreading information about animal medical needs and encouraging responsible pet ownership. Annie began painting and selling custom portraits of dogs and cats, a fundraising move to send money to facilities that care for shelter animals. Since 2012, Annie has sold more than 300 paintings and raised thousands of dollars.
She also met with state legislators in a push to place alerts about heartworm disease on Connecticut dog licensing forms.
“I have always had passions; I think it’s ingrained in me through my family,” said Annie, who graduated from Fairfield Warde High School this spring and plans to attend Cornell University this fall.
Back in the first grade, the Blumenfelds recalled, Annie’s teacher asked the class about their goals for the year. Annie was dissatisfied with answers given by classmates that included making new friends and reading more books. Annie’s interest was taxes and their impact on economic outcomes.
It was during a visit to a local department store with her mom when Annie learned that states have different sales taxes, thus varying impacts on economic activity. Annie quickly affixed her interest in clothing to her recognition of economics in deciding to memorize the sales taxes of all 50 states.
“She wanted to make a personal connection with each state,” said Lisa, who grew up in New York City but has lived the last 18 years in Fairfield, Conn. with her husband and children.
“I decided to memorize all of them to get the best deal on a pair of shoes,” Annie said. “I wanted to learn sales taxes alongside the multiplication tables. This was the blossoming of a businesswoman.”
Sharing her passions and outlook in a number of forums, Annie wrote and had published an article on actress Amy Poehler’s website, Smart Girls, and was the subject of a story on the website of TV show “Good Morning America.”
She’s also a patented inventor, having created a perspiration-absorbing shin guard insert after experiencing discomfort while playing soccer in fifth grade. Annie said she plans to further refine the product, which also moisturizes skin, during her time at Cornell.
Annie said her mom’s influence as a “great writer” is inspiring her to begin her Cornell years in communications studies. Communications may be joined to other subjects including business, Annie said, and may ultimately lead back to a job in the pet industry or consulting.
Whatever career she pursues passion will play a major role, mother and daughter agree.