For teenage entrepreneur Emily Laine Miller, nothing can top the thrill of peering down a crowded hallway at Olentangy Liberty High School and seeing a stranger wearing a Laine Avenue backpack for the first time.

"You're looking through a sea of JanSports and then you're like, 'Wait, that's mine!' " she said. "It was so exciting and honestly inspired me to really keep pushing for it."

Emily, 16, said the germ of the idea that would become Laine Avenue came to her a few years back as she was trying to find a way to save for college.

"Starting middle school, I had realized I could not find a backpack that worked for me or that held all my stuff," she said.

Emily initially announced her plan at the dinner table to design and sell backpacks with more room. The once home-based business now shares a building with her mom's advertising firm, LaineGabriel, in Liberty Township.

Lisa Laine Miller said she's not surprised her daughter has stuck with the difficult task of growing a business.

"Emily has always been full of ideas (for) as long as I can remember," she said. "She's always been making things, trying to figure out different things to sell, and she's very artistic."

Emily said her company's backpacks not only offer more room for books and school supplies, but also give customers a way to change up styles without spending a fortune. Laine Avenue sells individual flaps in many colors, allowing wearers to sub in new shades on the same backpack.

"I guess the trend for students every year is to buy a new backpack to not only change up their style but to have something new," she said. "This allows students to have one backpack and not be spending as much money (while being) able to change it each year."

The business also gives Emily's fellow teens a way to make money. With parental permission, teenagers can sign up to become "backers" of Laine Avenue and earn commissions for each item they sell through the firm's online store.

Laine Avenue now has "backers" in three different states and a number of central Ohio school districts, including Olentangy, New Albany and Worthington.

While most of Laine Avenue's current customers reside in central Ohio, Emily said, she thinks going to college out of state could be a great way to grow her business. She said she has not yet determined what major to pursue.

"I think it would be cool to major in something that would really help out with the company," she said.

Emily said she's already certain she has a head start on college and her future career, thanks to her experience as an entrepreneur.

"All of my friends now come to me for advice because I'm learning things I would never have experienced in high school without doing this," she said.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick