ARNPRIOR, ONT. -- Isaac Young is like most high schoolers in Arnprior, Ont. The 15-year-old went in search of a summer job to start making money this year, but had no luck due to the pandemic.

“At the beginning of the summer I was looking for a job,” says Young. “I had just turned 15 and because COVID had started I wasn’t really able to get one out in public. My dad had made some planter boxes for my mom and had mentioned how much they were going for online. I figured they probably weren’t that hard and I could probably start some.”

The idea was followed up by an application to the Ontario Summer Company program, which grants start-up money to young people aged 15 to 29 looking to start their own business. By late May, Young’s company, Backyard Builder, was taking orders.

“He was looking for a job and hadn’t found anything yet, and I think initially he just needed a little bit of encouragement to say, 'hey go for it,'” says Young’s dad Clark, who showed his son the ropes and guided him through the first couple projects. “It didn’t take a lot for me to just kind of coach him a bit, and then he just took off with it.”

Backyard Builder creates handmade picnic tables, priced at $340, sandboxes at $175, and large and small garden boxes priced at $175 and $150, respectively. So far, Young says he’s filled about 50 orders for customers, including an order of six picnic tables to Mill Street Brew Pub for their patio on Wellington Street in Ottawa.

Mill Street Brew Pub picnic tables

“I didn’t expect it to be this big, but I figured at least until I could get a job this would be a good way to have some money coming in,” remarked Young.

Young’s new business could not have come at a better time. Young and his dad quickly realized that the products the 15-year-old entrepreneur was making were the same products in high demand for those staying at home during the pandemic.

“We started to realize with people not travelling as much and with restrictions that COVID has brought, it’s started to make sense that people are putting money into their backyards,” says Clark.

“Especially now that they’ve been home for the summer ... to just garden in their backyard or have a sandbox for their kids to play in,” says Young.

The new business owner doesn’t know if Backyard Builder will be his future career. The 15-year-old is currently interested in sports and, aside from looking into a police college, he hasn’t thought too much of the future. Still, he expects to carry the business over until he’s finished high school to help pay for post-secondary education.

“There’s been a request for a toy chest actually. So I was thinking that would be great for Christmas.”

To place an order with Young, you can email