Youth Entrepreneurship – Willard Library & Generation E

Kessy Cook and Stephanie Boyd

Kessy Cook (left) and Stephanie Boyd (right)

Kessy Cook participates in band, is a part of the equestrian team, plays on a softball team AND still has time to manage her own company.

A Pennfield Schools student, Kessy is just 11 years old and launched The Melty Bead Triplets with the help of a few of her friends and Stephanie Boyd, Children’s Librarian at Willard Library.

“I met Cheryl (Executive Director of Generation E) at a Beacon Community meeting.  She invited me to a Project 20/20 forum about youth entrepreneurship and I just knew that this was something that I could make happen at Willard Library,” Stephanie said.

This spring, Stephanie brought together eight middle school students to launch a youth entrepreneurship program in partnership with the Generation E Institute located in downtown Battle Creek.  Generation E provides training and support to community partners that want to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in their community.  They have programs in over 35 counties in Michigan and in several states including Illinois, California and Indiana, just to name a few.

Stephanie Boyd

Stephanie Boyd

“I’ve always loved doing arts and crafts and thought about starting a business but didn’t know how to get started,” said Kessy.  So, she took her passion and turned it into a business venture to make products out of perler beads (fusible plastic beads).  She designs the products and melts the beads into colorful products including clipboards, necklaces and cell phone cases.

During the eight week program, Kessy and seven other budding entrepreneurs not only learned about product marketing, break even points and business management, they also learned about etiquette, table manners, teamwork, time management and more.  “We were also able to teach them about the small things that take you far.  Things that students can use whether they start their own business or work in a corporation,” said Stephanie Boyd.  “We even overcame some shyness with a few of the students,” she said.

They were even able to meet and ask questions to local entrepreneurs.  Over 10 business owners volunteers their time to share their wisdom with the students.  Students were able to learn about what it takes to operate a variety of business including: pet grooming, wood flooring, photography, computer repair/services, jewelry making, a restaurant, cleaning business and more.

Kessy Cook

Kessy Cook

What’s next for Kessy and The Melty Bead Triplets?  In less than a week on May 7th, Kessy will compete in the 10th Annual Generation E Student Business Showcase at Kellogg Arena in downtown Battle Creek.  The Showcase starts at 9:30 a.m.  A special guest speaker and Battle Creek native, Jim Borsum from World Vision will be speaking at 10 a.m.  Then from 11 – 2 p.m. the businesses will be judged by local community members for the opportunity to win over $5,000 in prizes.  And, the public is invited to attend and BUY products/services from these entrepreneurs.  Over 100 businesses have registered.

After the Showcase, Kessy plans to continue operating her business.  Her goals include increasing awareness of her business, developing additional products, traveling to art fairs and finding venues to sell her products.

And Willard Library is just getting started.  Another class will launch in the fall.  If you’re interested in participating and learning more about the program at Willard Library, contact Stephanie Boyd at 269.968.8166 ext. 501 or sboyd@willard.lib.mi.us.

For more information about how to launch your own entrepreneurship program in partnership with Generation E Institute, contact Cheryl Peters at 269.441.1238 or cherylp@genei.org or visit www.genei.org.

 

Kessy Cook and Stephanie Boyd discuss the value of youth entrepreneurship.