In this three-part series, Maverick EMMA DICKINS follows a group of students as they take part in The  Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme.

With 585 companies and over 2,500 Year 12-13 students across NZ competing in 2014’s Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme, it is fair to say that, so far, it has been a success. The Scheme encourages students to form their own company and create a new product or service;  then produce, market and sell it.

I was lucky enough to catch up with one of the companies competing in this competition. Jesh Designs, from Palmerston North Girls High School, has created a multi-purpose resting cushion from everyday recycled materials.

 

The group of four girls – Jacqueline Holmes (Managing Director), Grace Donaldson (Sales Director), Hannah Thomson (Marketing Director), Sarah Davies (Finance Director) and everyone contributing to the communication and production roles – was first inspired after seeing a similar item on Pinterest. The group decided to adapt the idea and turn it into a product that would not only look good, but promote sustainable, eco-friendly products for all ages.

Comprised of stunning fabrics, wood donated by local businesses and recycled plastic bottles provided by the regional council, this product is unique and attractive.

The bottles are sterilised with hot water instead of chemicals – ensuring reduced pollution levels – whilst the cushions are packaged in biodegradable shrink wrap. The product itself  comes in three sizes: small (600ml), medium (1.5L) and large (2.25L).

Challenges and Successes

The highly motivated and determined team that makes up Jesh Designs had a successful beginning, breaking even in Term 1. When asked whether or not they would continue to operate their company beyond the completion of NCEA business, they said they would see how the demand for their product fluctuates. However, they have worked out projected sales and income for years two and three.

So far, the biggest challenge for Jesh Designs has been choosing the directors and working out when they all have time to meet as a group. Their dedication to this project is obvious – not only by their impressive results, but by time and effort that they have put into ensuring every aspect of their company is top notch.

Jesh Designs has created a Facebook page to promote their product and sell it to a wider audience. They have also designed their own business card which even has a QR code on it, linking to their Facebook page. In keeping with their enviro-friendly goal, the business card is derived from recycled paper.

Into the Den

Dragons Den on May 22 was the first of three key events in the 2014 Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme. At this event, Jesh Designs had to create a pitch about their product and market it to a panel of judges. The scores from this counted for 30% of their mark for the regional competition.

Members of the group described the experience as “amazing”, “intense” and a great “confidence booster”. When they were explaining it to me, I could see just how memorable and exciting the night had been. It was a definitely a turning point for Jesh Designs; they are now more even more enthusiastic as to what the future holds for their company, and their ability to achieve above and beyond expectations.

To end this article, I'd like to leave you with a quote from Jesh Designs, to anyone wishing to participate in this programme, which they have deemed a “life-changing experience”:

“Give it a go. Don’t be afraid to try and don’t take criticism as a bad thing. Have faith – the more you believe in your product, the more everyone else will”.

With a promising year ahead, I can’t wait to follow the victories and triumphs that are sure to accompany Jesh Designs. Stay tuned to hear more!

For more info on The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme, click here.

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