Proud dad reveals why his 14-year-old son doesn't get pocket money so he had to ditch video games and start his own car wash business
A proud dad has revealed why his teenage son ditched video games to start his own car wash business.
Fourteen-year-old Clark Heisel decided to spend his Christmas gift money on products to clean his neighbors' cars, but parent Patrick faced online backlash.
Now the former police officer and army cadet has told MailOnline how the pair are fending off critics as his son learns the value of 'how to vaccinate'.
Clark's early entrepreneurial spirit has been widely praised as he prepares to brave the rain and offer one-hour car washes to his local community in Bromley, Kent.
There have been helpful suggestions about which sponges to use or avoid, but there has also been criticism from online critics who label Clark's efforts as “child slavery.”
But his father insists Clark will learn a lot from his new teenage profession, including managing money and getting along with locals.
Clark Heisel, 14, has set himself the challenge of starting his own car wash business for neighbors in Bromley, Kent, spending his Christmas money on cleaning products
His money-making efforts – £4 per hour-long car wash – are supported by dad Patrick, pictured here in Westminster with Clark and his sister Scarlett
Mr. Heisel, 49, first posted on Grafting is my principle.
'Realizing that gaming doesn't generate any income, he started his own car washing business, £4 per car.
'He invested his Christmas money in equipment. I wish him the best of luck in knocking on doors like he used to!'
Mr. Heisel, who works as a civil servant while also selling his own watercolors, said he also washed cars as a child for extra money.
But he says it was Clark who came up with the idea during the holidays and took his Christmas money to hardware stores to stock up on cleaning products.
They are now taking suggestions following the original post with advice on the best materials, including which sponges to remove to prevent damage to cars.
Yet there has also been abuse – something Mr Heisel accepted online as inevitable, while also feeling pleasantly surprised that his post received as much support as it has now.
He told MailOnline: 'Usually I just share my watercolor paintings on Twitter and they only get a few likes and I assumed it would be the same this time, but this post seems to have gone viral.
Patrick Heisel's post on X, formerly Twitter, has received thousands of likes and shares
Patrick Heisel's post about his son's car wash plans received a largely positive response online, but he hit back at critics who suggested “slavery” and “underselling”
'Most of the reactions were positive, but there are also those who accuse me of 'child slavery', which I do not understand. He's just trying to do something good.”
One online critic wrote in response, “I'm teaching him how to be a good slave.
'100 car washes to earn £400 is slavery. £400 is nothing considering the number of cars he will be scrubbing.'
Yet there was also praise, including from Pimlico Plumbers entrepreneur Charlie Mullins, who wrote: 'Well done. I did the same thing years ago and did laundry and milk shopping for all the stores. Your young lad is very sharp.”
Mr. Heisel said his son wants to pursue a career in gaming, but in the meantime wanted to find an alternative option to earn “a few bob” without receiving pocket money.
The father said: 'He is a first grader, a scout, and he does odd jobs around the house, but he wanted to do something more to earn extra money for computer games.
'I told him what I did as a child: washing cars for the locals so they didn't have to drive all the way to have it done somewhere else.
'He thought that was a really good idea and has been focused on it ever since. He has already washed my car a few times, very well, but he really wants to get started with it.
'He used his own money at Christmas to buy products and then worked out what the best profit margins were. We think £4 is reasonable and he might get a tip.”
Some on the internet suggested that Clark was 'under-selling himself' by charging just £4, but his father replied: 'That may or may not be the case – he's only 14 years old and has no expenses other than sweets and games.
'Hopefully he gets a tip for his good work, up to about a fiver.
'This is more of a lesson about creating something from nothing through grafting. But we'll look into it.'
Video game fan Clark Heisel has put them aside for now while he focuses on washing cars
His father Patrick, pictured here at last year's Remembrance Sunday commemorations at the Cenotaph, is selling his own paintings having previously served in the police and army cadets
Recent bad weather – with damage caused by Storm Henk – has hampered Clark's entrepreneurial hopes so far, with his father saying: 'We would love to go out and wash cars.
“That's what he wants to do once the rain subsides, but so far that hasn't been possible. We have the equipment, we want to knock on the door.
“He just wants to earn a few cents for some candy and computer games.”
Yet Mr. Heisel also trusts that his son will learn as well as earn.
He said: 'We're not talking about making a living – it's just a few pennies in his pocket.
'And we have been very clear that homework comes first – this is purely secondary, to build his confidence, understand money, respond to customers and interact with the local community.
'And he will do a good job on every car every time, I am very clear about that. It will be grafting, building a real work ethic, but also enjoying it.”