What is your business?
Callie: Our business is ELC Design and Art. ELC is the first letter from each of our names: Ella, Lina, and Callie. We always loved arts and crafts, so when we were at Fall Fest, we noticed other students selling products which inspired us to do the same thing. All of our products are useful in everyday life, such as keychains, bracelets, gift tags, moon rings, bookmarks, and erasers.
Ella: We started ELC to support the Lunch Project. The Lunch Project is a 4th-grade initiative that helps raise money for student lunches at the Lemanyata Primary School in Tanzania. What we found really interesting about the Lunch Project is that the money goes to the local mammas and pappas, who then cook for the students, therefore providing jobs to more people in the community. After Winter Fest, we donated over 30% of our profits to the Lunch Project, where it will help feed the students and employ adults.
What were the challenges that you faced with your business?
Ella: Something that I found challenging was not knowing how much we would sell; therefore, we were unsure about the material cost and how much inventory to make.
Lina: If we made too much, we would lose money, but if we made too little, we would sell out! We learned that it would be better to have more than less.
Ella: It was also really hard to find free time to make our products. During Thanksgiving break, we spent a lot of time making the things we planned on selling and figuring out how we would present the items at our booth. Having this time was nice since it allowed us to get together and think about which products would be the most successful at creating a profit.
Callie: Creating a business with your friends can also be challenging, as it can be hard to agree on things. There were some rocky moments between us, especially the prices of our items. Sometimes, having different ideas or perspectives regarding business decisions can cause conflict. But, on the other hand, we have been friends since Second Grade, so going into this, we had a good idea about our team dynamic.
Ella: But, because we are friends, other things were easier because we all knew each other really well! Also, because of ELC, we can spend more time together.
What is your favorite part of having this business?
Callie: My favorite part of having ELC is that we were able to take our friendship to the next level and create a business! ELC is a great way to express creativity as well. From designing our company to choosing products, working as a team has been really fun since we all bring different things to the table.
Ella: I agree with what Callie said, but I also love seeing our classmates with our products. We put a lot of thought and effort into our products in hopes that people will enjoy them, and when we see how much a customer loves to wear or use a product, it fuels our energy to continue working hard.
Lina: Seeing people buying the things we made and coming to our booth was a really cool experience too.
Callie: We definitely made a lot of people happy, which made us happy.
What products were popular at the market?
Ella: Lina made really cool multi-colored key chains which were a hit! Not only did they look amazing, but they were also so useful. Callie made gift tags which were great–our customers loved them! People also bought the bookmarks and moon rings I made. Going into the Winter Market, we knew that there would be a lot of students there, so our products were based on things we thought would be popular with our peers.
Callie: We realized that having various products available would attract more customers. Sometimes, people would come to our booth interested in one item but end up buying other products as well!
What is one piece of advice for PD students pursuing a business?
Callie: Don’t be overconfident in your business. You need to work hard and make sure you are proud of the things you are making and selling. We were so surprised with how successful ELC was at the Winter Market. Also, I think it is important not to limit your business. For us, we had a variety of products to offer which I think made people want to buy more, which leads to us making more money.
Lina: I agree with Callie. If possible, give your customers options because people have different tastes, so it is nice to be able to sell different items.
Ella: Have an established team with people you know you work well with. I think this is super important because you will spend a lot of time with these people. If you all work well together, it is so much more fun making and selling products.