It started in a classroom
With the new Common Core State Standards and thinking about the students that we at Allan F. Daily serve, we wanted to change things up a bit. At Daily, we serve students that had difficulties in a comprehensive high school, and give students a more intimate setting, smaller class sizes, and a lot of structure and feedback on bad habits that may have developed. We wanted to give our students exposure to real-life literacy and writing needs that they will be expected to do once they graduate. Thus, our academies were born. We wanted to focus on a trade, look at the literacy, writing and teamwork needed in a career after high school. We wanted to focus on the listening, speaking, as well as the reading and writing required for many jobs in today's era. So we formed various academies and the Business Academy was one of them.
We started with foundational skills. We read professional articles, looked at what it took to start a small business. It started heavily on reading, writing, and focusing on imaginary companies. It was dense. The students and I liked it, but we wanted to DO something. We didn't want to be leaders of imaginary companies, we wanted to become leaders for something real. We didn't know what we were going to do, but we knew we would burn out if we only focused on theory. So we brainstormed various products we could make as a fundraiser for our school. Our business model was simple: Create a product, sell it at a competitive price, make money for our school, and give back to our community. We looked at different products that would build us as a team. We first were interested in building a bike. They are cool, there is a great company that sells a great bike kit. After sending emails back and forth we learned that they work with at-risk students as well to build bikes. There was tons of geometry built into the making of the product as well as teambuilding, problem solving, and so many other skills we wanted our students to learn. But, there was one huge hurdle: the price. The kits were expensive and that would be a large investment by our schools to make. So, it was back to the drawing board.
The next brainstorm session would be about products that we can use everyday. So we tried to make body sugar scrubs. They were all over Pinterest at the time, and were made with very affordable ingredients. We made a batch and they were nice, but we wanted something with less liability. We would feel really guilty if someone was allergic to our product, and didn't want to start with such a gamble. So, we once again went back to the drawing board. A student in class had an idea of making candles early on, but not everybody was on board. She made candles as a hobby and she talked us into trying them out. I am crafty, but I never make candles before. I googled a candle making class and sure enough, one came up very close to us. All it costed was $20 and a half day of learning. It was a great class and I was hooked. As a teacher I know, once I am super excited about something I can usually get my students super excited! So, we tried our hand at the Art of Candle Making.
Our experience was priceless. I took a class of 13 students that never liked, attended, or were very good at school and made them into great candle makers and sales people. They were invested because they made most of the decisions. They chose our name: Strive (which was based on our goals here at Daily, to Strive to do better). They chose our fragrances, they choose our price and calculated our profits. They were on FIRE! Our initial goal was to sell 100 candles a week before Winter Break. We sold out in 2 days!!!!! It was amazing! We had half of the class selling and half of the class making more candles for the demand. We made 232 candles! and we were SOLD OUT by the end of the week!
It was an amazing experience. After Winter Break we were able to re-group and discuss why we were so successful. 1. It was during the holidays.
2. Our school is located next to the District Office, and generally a great location in Glendale. We were able to have a lot of exposure to people from outside of our school and the District Office Staff.
3. Customers wanted to support our school. They loved that this was student driven and a fundraiser for our school.
4. Because they were student made.
5. Because our candles are great. We had so many repeat customers. They loved the candles, and had to buy more for themselves, friends and family.
After our discussion we saw how invested we all were in our products, we loved our candles just as much as our customers did. We, personally didn't make any money. It all went to the school, and we donated 10% of our gross earnings to The Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund. Our school profited over $700, our most successful fundraiser yet.
We are now getting ready for our Spring sale with Valentine's Day in mind. We are branching out and trying new things like colored and scented 100% Soy Candles. We have redesigned the packaging to make it more cost effective and are keeping our price at an industry low of $5 dollars a candle. We hope that everybody stops by to take a look at our small outdoor boutique outside of Allan F. Daily High School from 1:30-4:00pm Feb. 3rd-Feb.14th. Strive Candles are the gift that gives back. For a look at our products feel free to go to our Store Page.
ASB teacher/Business Advisor
English Teacher and Candle Maker
Lover of Education and Learning