Elise has a knack for product development and packaging, and Evan is the "business guy" and computer master.
He knew the Internet's potential from designing a website about author John Steinbeck for a school project. E-mails poured in, making it one of the most visited Steinbeck sites on the web. "It was amazing," says Evan. "I've taken down the site because it was taking a lot of time to answer all the questions people sent it."
For the Chocolate Farm, he's developed an inviting website (www.chocolatefarm.com) that reflects a grasp of e-commerce.
Mrs. Macmillan and her husband stay in the background. They support the business while making sure Evan and Elise run it as much as possible. "It's their business, and we want them to learn," she says. "But like any parents, we want to prevent huge mistakes, the pain of which will be more than the lesson."
David Gonzales, director of the Denver Enterprise Center, says young people have more entrepreneurial potential than many realize, but the key to its proper development is parents.
Speaking of the role Elise and Evan's mother plays, Dr. Gonzales says, "She's kept everything in perspective for them. "These kids don't have a big head about the business, which could tend to happen. They've had a lot of publicity, but the kids are really grounded."
Gonzales says he was impressed with their demeanor and the way they carried themselves from the moment they applied for space in the Enterprise Center. The Chocolate Farm is viewed as a pilot project that could lead to a youth-business incubator.
The center provides a sense of community to budding entrepreneurs, and the Macmillan children have fit right in. "The other people in the kitchen really like them," says Gonzales, who adds they have a good relationship with low-income people from the neighborhood hired by the Chocolate Farm and other companies. The Chocolate Farm generates more orders than the Macmillans can handle alone, so about a dozen part-time workers help, in addition to friends, who also get paid.