When Kristen Chan started Harry Ainlay Composite High School in September 2014, she had not heard about Junior Achievement, but the posters around the school caught her attention. She was curious, and wanted to know what exactly an Achiever was. The more she found out about the JA Company Program, the more she thought it might be a great way to gain some entrepreneurial experience for the baking business she was planning to start in the future. So she signed up, and was delighted to find herself in an environment where others shared her perspective about hard work and dedication.
Throughout the eighteen-week Company Program, Kristen put in a tremendous amount of work striving to make her company the best it could be. She contributed to the team’s morale every week by bringing in baked goods she had made, and she set high sales goals for herself. Nevertheless, Kristen was still taken by surprise when she received two awards in 2015: one for Teamwork, and one for Top Sales Person.
For their project, Kristen’s company decided to produce terrariums of variable size. Kristen gained knowledge in several areas of company management, but she focused mainly on the production side of the business. Every week she drove around to the Goodwill stores in Edmonton, buying up their stock of glass jars in various shapes and sizes. Then in the weekly three-hour sessions, she helped prepare the terrariums by filling them with rock, soil and cacti. The main challenge that company members faced at the beginning was to familiarize themselves with the care and maintenance of cacti, and Kristen helped by researching this topic on the Internet.
Kristen’s sales pitches were successful because she spent time analyzing the market. She knew that high school students want to fit in with their peers, so she marketed the terrarium as a trendy product that everyone wanted. She also pitched the terrarium as an attractive Mother’s Day present as well as an easy way to add a decorative touch to an office environment. Kristen contacted family members who worked in offices, and this networking strategy worked well; her largest order was for 12 office terrariums. Since cacti only need to be watered once a month, she made sure to say that the terrarium was super-low maintenance and ideal for those who do not have a green thumb.
The company did very well, selling about 130 terrariums in all, and Kristen was responsible for 71 of these sales. Production costs were about $5 and the company sold the product for $20, so profits were made. At the end, the company donated 15 per cent of the profits to Hope Mission, and then divided the rest equally among company members.
When she is not indulging in her passion for baking, Kristen enjoys spending time reading and doing exercise like running and yoga. During the Team Leadership course offered at her school, Kristen participated in Geomeer’s Helping Hampers at Christmas time, and volunteered at McKee Elementary School during their winter celebration.
Kristen plans to enroll in the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) for baking. The RAP course will prepare her for the baking program at NAIT when she graduates from high school. Baking hours typically run from 4:00 am to 10:00 am, so Kristen will be able to attend regular high school courses in the afternoon. The business skills Kristen learned in her first Company Program will stand her in good stead, and we wish her every success in the future!