December 1, 2010 by wcobserver
By Susan McCarthy
Fayetteville- Some West Fork students had the opportunity to experience life as a small business owner by participating in the World Trade Expo last Friday at the Northwest Arkansas Mall.
Four teams of seventh and eighth grade students from West Fork Middle School were among 30 student booths selling items they’d designed and made themselves. The students were chosen among dozens of entries to participate in the expo after their business plans were selected by Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) at John Brown University, who have hosted the expo for 20 years.
Some booths sported business cards with titles like President, Director of Finance, Director of Sales and Director of Marketing. All had original products made by students that ranged from bracelets made of pop tops to tie-dyed shirts and scarves to jewelry made from toothbrushes, but without the bristles.
Students didn’t let a shopper pass by without a sales pitch and all were well-briefed to woo the faculty and graduate student judges from JBU.
“It was a little hard. The hardest part was the income statement and matching that up,” said Hannah Watts of “Wrapped in Style” who, with teammates Janae Miller and Olivia Karnes, won third place and $50 for their business plan. Their booth featured a rack of colorful fleece scarves, many in the Tiger’s colors, black and gold.
West Fork’s “2Dye4” took top honors and $100 for the best slogan and logo and also won second place for the best booth design which yielded $75. Sofia Franco, Haley Harrison, Victoria Lawson and Spencer Sagely turned an idea from a birthday party into a small business featuring tie-dyed tee shirts and scarves in two different lengths.
“No matter what you do, you can’t mess up,” said Franco. “Everything you do, you can experiment with it…it’s awesome.”
At about noon Spencer Sagely thought sales were going well.
“They’re pretty good so far. It’s not about the money; it’s about having fun and learning about business.”
Franco reported that her group had made about $160 in sales with the most expensive item being $6.
Leah Farmer said she felt more independent after participating in the World Trade Expo and said she’d consider owning her own business in the future. Farmer, with teammates Jordan Felix and Morgan Gass created a business that sold one-of-a kind picture frames.
“I’ve learned starting a business isn’t a lot of fun and games. It’s very serious work, not something to procrastinate about,” Farmer said.
The fourth West Fork team featured Nicole DeSoto, Kristen Benson, McKenzie Tackett and Louie Crawford. Their business, T.I.L.E.S. featured scrabble tile jewelry that could be purchased by the letter.
In addition to drafting business plans and making and selling their products, participating students also spent a day at JBU in seminars learning about marketing, leadership, and budgeting.