No one can say that 12-year-old Hannah Cannon isn’t playing with a full deck. The freckle-faced eighth grader from Hollywood Hills is the inventor of Cardz, a clever Scrabble-like word game played with 78 cards, each bearing a letter worth a designated number of points. Using the same deck, players can compete at such variations of classic card games as Cardz Rummy, Solicardz and Five Cardz Stud. But the object is to make words, not pairs or straight flushes. “It’s really fun, and you never get bored because there are millions of words,” says Hannah.
The pint-size entrepreneur got her inspiration a year ago while playing gin rummy with a friend. “It just popped into my mind,” she says. “I get lots of little ideas.” Sensing the commercial possibilities, she took this brainstorm to her dad, screenwriter Bill (Brewster McCloud) Cannon. “I went out and researched, just looked on the shelves,” he says, “and there was nothing like it. Scrabble on a deck of cards—what could be more classic?”
Impressed with the concept, a printer gave father and daughter a $10,000 line of credit and manufactured the first decks last July. A toy company then licensed the game, and Cardz is now on the shelves at Waldenbooks and Bloomingdale’s. Its young inventor recently appeared on Good Morning America to tout her product. With the basic deck priced at $6.50 and a deluxe version at $19.95, sales have already topped $100,000 this year. “The money has helped to pay her tuition,” says Bill. “We ain’t rich, but we might be yet. We’ve kept a low profile on it, so it didn’t go to her head. Basically, she’s still a schoolgirl.”
Hannah, an only child who has lived with her father since her parents’ divorce eight years ago, attends the exclusive Westlake School for Girls and lives in the same posh neighborhood as Richard Dreyfuss, Doc Severinsen and Pat Sajak. Her own room, however, is anything but glamorous: Within its multicolored Day-Glo walls, which Hannah painted herself, heaps of clothes, stuffed animals and Elvis memorabilia lie scattered. “We pride ourselves on being a creative household,” explains Dad, standing in the doorway as Hannah scurries around trying to clean up for a visitor.
Thrilled by her business success, Hannah now refers to herself laughingly as “a junior executive.” The redheaded Cardz shark has no plans to drop her longtime goal of becoming a veterinarian. “But if something pops into my mind again,” she warns, “I’ll go with it.”