Young mum entrepreneurs gunning for YES
It’s how many successful businesses start – finding the solution to a problem; but it is fair to say that most entrepreneurs are not young mums who are also studying for NCEA while developing their business idea.
Toyah Hempel (18) and Shadrach Bartlett (21) are students at Te Tipu Whenua o Pa Harakeke, the Flaxmere Teen Parent Unit. Both mums to toddlers, they are determined to succeed in school, at parenting, and in this year’s Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) competition.
YES is a national business experience competition in which high school students set up and run a business over the school year. It includes a number of challenges: product validation, sales and marketing, a business pitch, and an annual review, which are judged to find the regional finalists. The winning regional team will represent Hawke’s Bay in the national final. The aim is to provide the students with skills to help them succeed in their career and in life.
Deciding on an idea for their product was not difficult for Toyah and Shadrach – Toyah had struggled to find products that worked for her three-year-old’s eczema. So it was going to be natural, preservative-free moisturiser and body wash with kawakawa, the latter long-used by Maori healers to soothe irritated skin.
But that’s where easy ended. The competition has certainly achieved its aims – giving them skills that, like most teenagers, they had no prior concept of.
From deciding they wanted to enter the competition and firming up their idea, to finding a suitable mentor, developing the formula, cooking up the recipe, sourcing jars and bottles to present it in, completing financial and marketing plans, building a website, and getting sales – it has been a very busy first half of the school year.
So far, they have been grilled by the judges and are now planning their stall at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market on August 16. In October they will find out if they have made the regional finals.
The best thing of all is the success of the product, iSoaknSoothe. It has proved a popular seller - the pair have already quadrupled their sales targets - and it soothes Toyah’s daughter’s skin.
“Our research showed that one in three infants have eczema by the age of two . . . and in New Zealand it is severe in Maori and Pasifika children,” said Shadrach.
“We are purposefully targeting young Maori . . . and part of it is educating them about natural products and how effective they can be. We have designed our product to prevent and heal problems like dryness, itchiness, weeping and redness.”
It was critical that the products did not contain perfumes, which can irritate sensitive skin, said Toyah. “We wanted a safe solution . . . often prescription ointments seem to feed the irritation and thin the skin, especially steroid creams.”
That the business model is working is also a source of pride. They have paid back the $700 start-up loan that is part of the competition package, paid all of their invoices, and are well on the way to earning their goal of $2000 by December 1.
Released on behalf of the Flaxmere Planning Committee by Joyce Communications
For more information contact Diane Joyce
Phone: 021 612270