Putting their summertime to good use, over 10 enterprising young people invested their energies in developing their business and marketing skills. Under the careful guidance of Emma Ferla, MADE4U’s Skills & Involvement Co-ordinator, and the youth work team, the budding entrepreneurs turned their hands to develop their products, logos, branding, and working on a marketing campaign. The final test for the resourceful crew was presenting their products and marketing plan to a panel of Dragons, including Lisa Cullen from Business Enterprise and Clare McCormack, Project Manager at MADE4U. Presenting at the Houldsworth Centre, Wishaw, the teams were grilled on their future plans, customer service proposals and how they would develop their current range.
The five-week long programme start has been dubbed the “Young Enterprise Programme” and lived up to its name. The first weeks involved the young entrepreneurs dividing into teams, selecting their business categories and naming their business, alongside learning about developing logos, taglines and branding. They undertook market research in their chosen field and turned their hand to product development. Kyle, involved in the project said of this stage, “ I enjoyed using the sewing machine and learning how to use the rivets”.
The Paws-itively exciting enterprise that Kyle, Nicola and their teammates invested their time into was “Dug, “ aiming to be an innovative, low-cost and eco-friendly product for dogs and their owners. The team turned their hand to developing pet collars out of bike tyres and stuffed fabric dog chews from old clothes like jeans. This aimed to tackle the problem that so many dog products are expensive and inaccessible. The team developed their logo in line with the business ethos, showcasing a tyre and smooth jean pattern.
The second enterprising team developed a range of upcycled products for sale, with the main input being development hours and the items being saved from the landfill. The team went ahead full bottle and saved some colourful caps from the tip, turning those into a Totally Unique clock fit for anyone’s home. The tables were turned for their second product; an old sand and water pit table previously used for a nursery. This was transformed into a stylish upholstered storage table which would be the envy of any home. The second project took more time and labour, as well as new skills including using staple guns and furniture paint.
The final enterprise, Just Heavenly Soaps (J.H.S) was developed by John-Thomas, Szymon, Hailey and Jessica who came up with a range of beauty products including soaps, initially aimed at the skin-conscious teen. The team aimed for a clean-sweep of the soap and cleansing market as their product research targetted three of the biggest contenders in the world of skincare, and identified that many of the products on the market contain harmful chemicals or are out of budget for the average teen-consumer.
J.H.S created several items for testing, including a range of scented soaps (passion fruit, mango, and lavender amongst others), and skin-scrub. The products were beautifully presented in unique and individual pots and containers, as well as biodegradable cardboard boxing, showing their passion for zero-waste alongside their core skincare mission. The team presented a thorough, well-researched marketing and sales plan, with big ambitions for the future, showcasing the young people’s creativity and ambition.
Giving hope for the future of the project, Szymon of J.H.S said, “I was able to use my knowledge in digital skills and I enjoyed furthering my skills in teamwork and communication skills and really enjoyed the 5 weeks and can't wait for it to continue.” This sort of feedback is a testament to the benefit of the project, while others involved in the summer programme noted that they loved learning how to make new things and experimenting with products like soaps, and dog collars.
Lisa Cullen, of Business Gateway Lanarkshire (Elevator), praised the young people in their endeavours and suggested that the presentations were more thorough than some of the others she had experienced in her years of similar professional pitches. Lisa encouraged the young people to think about what resources they might need for the future of these small enterprises and any they may launch in the future, which may include support from organisations like Business Gateway, which offer business support, advice and signposting to funding routes.
Emma will be working with young people and local community members to develop further projects under the Young Enterprise Programme and Future Pathways umbrella. Ending the first successful pilot, she congratulated the young people on their hard work and diligence towards their brands, before treating the teams to a celebratory meal to signify the end of the summer sessions. We would encourage anyone who is interested in this type of project or getting involved in their community and using existing skills, to get in touch.
Following the presentations from all three teams, MADE4U’s Project Manager, Clare McCormack, noted that it was a huge privilege to support young people in enterprising projects like this one, with the financial support of funds like the Community, Capacity and Resilience Fund as well as the Volunteer Support Fund. Projects like the Young Enterprise Programme allow young people to develop skills such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving as well as product research and marketing, alongside the practical knowledge picked up in actually making their products.
MADE4U is a small but mighty community centre operating in the ML2 postcode area which covers Wishaw and the surrounding areas. The organisation works with children, young people and the wider community around the theme of wellbeing, with the aim of seeing people encouraged, empowered and engaged; making a difference that matters in their community.