Young entrepreneur's business encourages fitness and health

Local fifth-grader spreads positivity

WNTER PARK, Fla. – Negative body image is an issue girls and women all over the world have to struggle with. There's lots of schools of thought regarding food and fitness, and you get different advice everywhere you turn.

But one Central Florida fifth-grader is making a big difference with her small business, spreading a powerful and positive-message.

For 11-year-old Alana Ingersoll, clay time isn't just play time, it's all business.

[WEB EXTRA: Alana’s Etsy Page: The Art of Nan I The Art of Nan Facebook Page I IIFYM Apparel]

"First I have the X-Acto knife, and I use it most of the time for the harder clay. So I cut pieces off and stuff. Now I have this roller, and when I put the clay into the conditioning machine, and then I, like, fold it usually to get the air bubbles out," said Alana, showing News 6 how she makes her creations

Her mother, Christina Clemons, said it all started with a field trip Alana needed to pay for.

"They were going to the Kennedy Space Center and it was like $32, I think, so we were like, 'So how are you going to make money to help pay for this field trip?'" said Clemons. "And I was expecting her to be like, 'Oh, I'll clean the car,' you know, some extra chores, and she's like, 'Oh, I can sell my clay', and we were like, 'Oh, OK.'"

"My cousin Tatti said my artwork was so good with my clay that I could start selling it," said Alana. "And then Mommy, she gave me an Instagram account and then I started making them and boom."

Alana also has her own Facebook page and Etsy page showing off her handmade products.

"These are the little pizza ornaments, the small, medium, and large. I made it look like actual pizza with the sauce and everything and I put pepperoni on it because pepperoni is my favorite pizza," said Alana. "Next are the donuts. Since they're Christmas ornaments, I decided to do red and green sprinkles and the icing has glitter on it, it's like a glittery donut. Next is the stack of pancakes and it has syrup on them, sprinkles and icing sugar and then butter that's halfway melted. Next are the deadlift plaques and I just put the stoppers on, the weights on, and the clips on. Then this person ordered the Cuban flag as the background, so I am going to put this right here and then put their name on it and then we're going to ship it out to them."

If you're sensing a theme, you're right.

"I started making foods and stuff and Bri had the IIFYM stuff," said Alana. "IIFYM, it stands for 'If It Fits Your Macros' and macros are like protein and fat and carbs and lots of bodybuilders and powerlifters use it and it's also for people not to be afraid to eat stuff. And the guy who makes shirts for IIFYM, he posts new shirts about it, like 'Do it for the donuts', 'Do it for the pizza', and like, 'Do it for the ice cream.' Because it's like, if you eat too much of it it's not healthy, but they're trying to encourage you to eat just the right amount of different foods so that you'll be healthy."

She's talking about IIFYM Apparel shirts, made by Ryan Schroers. It's all in support of a lifestyle called "flexible dieting"-- geared toward having a healthy relationship with food.

"It's not just for the athlete but for someone trying to live a healthy lifestyle where they have a healthy relationship with food so they don't identify food such as ice cream, cookies, stuff of that nature, pasta, as a negative type of food, bad food," said Brianna Lake, Alana's mom. "Rather it's a type of food that helps you achieve your goals. Rather than eating a large amount of these foods, you eat it in moderation. We see so many people grow up, adults, even senior citizens that have that a negative vibe towards food, 'Oh, I can't eat that, it goes straight to my butt, straight to my hips,' you know? You always hear that, especially females. Females are constantly looking at their parents and they're being judged in a celebrity mindset, and we have teenagers that are trying to look a certain way. It shouldn't be that way. If these basic concepts were taught at a young age, it would set a healthy foundation for the future."

"I don't want her to have the stereotypical mindset, so I think it's great for her, and that she picked it up so easily," said Clemons. "She tells me how she goes to school and has these conversations with her friends and her friends parents will say, 'You know, you should be eating salads and apples,' and Alana says, 'You can have cookies and donuts, just in moderation,' so I don't want her to be afraid of any food. She's even expressed to me before that when she becomes a teenager she wants to start working out in the gym, and she's like, 'Do you think I could count my macros?' and I'm like, 'I don't see why not.'"

Alana started picking it all up while watching her parents at the gym.

"Bri made me want to make this kind of stuff because lots of time I go to the gym with her and I see lots of people in the gym doing that kind of stuff," said Alana. "Some people are reaching towards their goals and stuff so then I was like, 'It makes people happy to go to the gym and do this stuff and reach their goals, so why not have an ornament or keychain for it?"

It just goes to show-- kids are always watching, and healthy habits are picked up right from the start.

"I do like the fact that she's spreading that message about flexible dieting because I really, through my personal experience, the two years that I've gotten very serious with nutrition, stuff of that nature, I feel like I've grown as a person, self-awareness is very exponential, it's very huge for me," said Lake. "It's not just nutrition- and fitness-related, it's somehow crossed over into school, with work, now I'm more aware of who I am as a person, so I feel like that could be something that everyone could use. So if she could spread that message, something that could be so much bigger, even Ryan is doing it but he's an adult, for a child to do it, that's like, you're setting a different standard."

"Even to encourage her peers, other children, to have a positive mindset about food," said Clemons.

Others believe in her mission, too. Her online shop has been open only two months and so far, she's had 22 orders and made $286.

Her parents said they're extremely proud of Alana.

"I'll tell her I love her and she says, 'I love you Google times Google', so she makes me Google times Google proud," said Clemons.
"She makes me very proud, as a parent, I can't think of any other child I would want to have. She's smart, she's driven, she gets amazing grades, she's polite, she's respectful, so this is perfect, she's perfect," said Lake.

So what's Alana's ultimate goal?

"To open up a stand or a shop," said Alana. "I would do both custom and ready-to-buy orders and I would make the shop so that everything was set in actual food cases so it looks like food."

She said her favorite part about it is it makes people happy.

"It makes people happy. It makes Mommy and Bri happy, it makes me happy and it's so fun to see how everything comes together," she said.

And when asked if there was anyone in the world she could have support her business, she chose... "Mr. Ryan" of IIFYM Apparel.

News 6 gets results, and wanted to get results for Alana, so we reached out to Schroers. He sent us a video back for Alana, saying:

"Alana, this is IIFYM Ryan. I just wanted to personally thank you for your support-- it is young people like you with a sincere passion that are going to make a difference in the world."

About the Author: