Monday, August 17, 2009

Amazing...Jason O'Neill

Want to brighten your child’s day? Perhaps make homework a tad less annoying? Tack on a Pencil Bug and watch the fun begin!

What’s a Pencil Bug, you may ask? Pencil Bugs are cute, colourful, pencil/pen/marker toppers that will make all your writing tasks a whole lot more entertaining. And because Pencil Bugs are individually handcrafted, each one is unique. In addition, each Pencil Bug is individually packaged and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity that includes the date it was born along with care and training instructions. You even get a standard #2 pencil with each one.

What’s even more wonderful than Pencil Bugs is the amazing kid who invented them. Jason O’Neill was only nine years old when he had the idea for the Pencil Bug. He says, “I am always amazed at how my business got started. I never thought a simple idea to create a pencil topper just to sell at one craft fair [with his mom] would turn into a real business.”

Jason goes on to tell us, “There have been several stages since I first had the idea. Getting the supplies for the first few dozen I made for the craft fair was pretty easy. We just bought materials from local stores. The first challenge was when it became a real business, and people were ordering faster than we could make them.”

Jason hopes to expand his business and says, “For the past year, the biggest challenge has been finding a manufacturer that can mass produce Pencil Bugs so I can expand into more retail stores.”

Jason is now 13 years old, and in addition to being the founder of Pencil Bugs, he’s a straight-A student and enjoys the same stuff as his friends, like playing with his rescued dog and playing video games. Jason confides, “My parents set limits on how much I can be on the computer.”

However, that hasn’t stopped him from expanding his Pencil Bugs line to include bookmarks, birthday party invitations, greeting cards, t-shirts, and much more. Jason has also made the Top Ten Role Model List and has his story in the ever-popular Chicken Soup for the Soul: Extraordinary Teens series. If that’s not enough, Jason also donates part of his sales to help underprivileged kids and has been doing so from the very beginning. He says, “Whatever you do in life, even if you’re not making a ton of money, it’s a good thing to help others when you can. I’ve given money to help foster kids and also buy toys, games, books, etc., for kids in hospitals. I’ve learned that even the smallest effort can make a difference in someone else’s life.” (To see Jason’s latest donation project, Teddy Bears for Kids, see below in our New & Now section.) Jason is definitely an amazing kid and finishes with this advice: “If you have an idea that you really believe in, don’t let anyone else discourage you from at least trying it. I always say, ‘you can’t get anywhere by just sitting on your ideas.’” For more information on Pencil Bugs and Jason O’Neill, please visit his website at

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