In September of 2017 we received a phone call from an eager high school student who was looking for assistance with developing a business model for a DECA competition. She had done her research and found approximately 20 companies in the Greater New York Metro Area with the potential to her assist her in two capacities; developing the concept of a business for her competition and assisting her with building the platform required for the competition. After speaking with her a few times and learning about her and seeing how strong her drive was we made the offer to assist her Pro Bono; providing her with the direction and tools needed for her to succeed.
What is DECA? "With nearly a 70-year history, DECA has impacted the lives of more than ten million students, educators, school administrators and business professionals since it was founded in 1946. Their strong connection with our organization has resonated into a brand that people identify as a remarkable experience in the preparation of emerging leaders and entrepreneurs. DECA’s programs and activities have constantly evolved as we use the latest technology and apply cutting edge educational research. Our core focus has remained consistent and is captured in our mission." (Source)
Watching her skills develop and the concept of the business mature and she progressed was truly amazing. We watched her learn how to manipulate the back-end of a fairly complex system and develop a website, requiring our assistance only with design and formatting components. Her talents are undeniable.
The company she developed for the competition, Hannah The Brand, was more than just a online shopping experience for young women. She implemented the concept of a movement of empowerment. With each purchase, the buyer's name was entered into a drawing. The winners would be selected to participate in runway-style fashion shows hosted at regional shopping centers, with a goal of promoting empowerment and body-positivity in young women.
Here is her story:
My name is Hannah and I am a junior at Berlin High School in Connecticut. Over these past few years, I have realized that high school is often underestimated, by both students and adults. It can be viewed as insignificant, or lacking opportunity, or just too competitive for most students to exceed. However, those views are not completely accurate. High school is what one creates it to be. In fact, the most valuable lesson I have learned here is to not necessarily take advantage of opportunities, it is to initiate my own.
From my three years here at Berlin high school so far, I have been exposed to the great passion and talent of others. This especially began my sophomore year when I joined Berlin’s DECA chapter, an international business organization that hosts a competition and conferences. I entered the competition and completed an Advertising Campaign for a Berlin contracting company. I rebranded and marketed the company by creating a new logo, developing a website, creating a Yelp page, posting flyers in local grocery stores, and hosting Free Fruit Friday at a New Britain Elementary School, in which the business paid for fruit for students to eat as part of a healthy breakfast. The results of the campaign were a 10% increase in net revenue within three months. Also, my dedication earned me the award as a finalist at the international competition in California, as well as the Sophomore Business Award at my school.
Finding my passion and position within my school, I continued my interest in DECA by applying for the position as Vice President, in which I currently administer club functions and lead several committees. As part as my initial efforts as Berlin DECA Vice President, I proposed that the club begin an Internship Program in order for members to gain real life experience in the business world. Unfortunately, the club is unable to begin such a complex program. I then took my idea to administration, who claimed that the town is unable to afford a necessary outside hire as part time advisor. Therefore, I created a plan and structure for the Internship Program that intermediated all concerns. The program operates through several clubs within my school, in which the members of those clubs are applicable to apply for any internship. As the President of the program, I have appointed a club representative from each club involved and reached out to businesses to host the internships. I also lead board meetings, coordinate the application process, conduct interviews, choose the interns, and regularly speak with the businesses to assure that they are always aware of any updates relevant to them. The selection process for this school year is completed, and students have began Berlin’s very first internships on March 5th. I am thrilled to grow the Internship Program during my senior year from just two internships to eight, and as an advisor when I begin college.
In addition, I chose to compete in another DECA event this year. I decided that I would
complete a more complex project, and therefore created a business plan for an innovative fashion company. This includes the administration of several professional photoshoots, which were necessary in order to create a sample website and instagram page. At these photoshoots, there were ten models from John Casablancas Modeling Agency, two makeup artists, a hair artist, and a professional photographer; all who volunteered to participate. In order to develop an impressive sample website, I logged on to Yelp to reach out to companies that could help me create a website on a low budget. I reached out to at least twenty companies. Two of those companies responded, one of which was unwilling to budge the price. However, Daniel James Consulting was willing to help me create a website Pro Bono. As a high school student, I was very surprised and excited that a company was willing to help me with this project. Daniel James LLC allowed me to have access to their Shopify back-office, which I found rather challenging to operate. But with their help and several Youtube videos, I confidently developed my website. I also wanted a banner for the website to look a specific way that I was unable to create on Shopify. They then created the banner for me, and continued to help me with any final touches before my competition in March. Overall, Daniel James LLC was incredible to work with and I am very glad that I was able to learn more about website development.