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Students successfully launch summer businesses during pandemic

Monday, July 27, 2020

Despite entering an uncertain economy, six Windsor-Essex students are plunging ahead as first-time entrepreneurs in the annual Summer Company program.

Summer Company is an Ontario government program which provides young people with the resources and training to start a new summer business. Full-time students, aged 15-29, receive hands-on business training, advice and mentorship from local business leaders and up to a $3,000 grant.

This year presents a new challenge for these young entrepreneurs as they must create a business plan for success during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes making sure they are keeping themselves and their customers safe while still meeting a changing consumer demand.

The WindsorEssex Small Business Centre (SBC) is working with a variety of new student businesses that provide products and services, such as a delivery service, hair products and accessories, landscaping and lawn care and mobile vehicle detailing. SBC is delighted to highlight some of the unique Summer Company start-ups:

Joshua Bastien: JB's Delivery

JB's Deliveries, a grocery and supplies delivery service located in Windsor-Essex, will bring products straight from the shelf to customer doors. During the Covid-19 pandemic, JB Deliveries offers a risk-free solution to get the supplies you need.

High school student Joshua Bastien started his business after seeing an opportunity to help those who are high-risk, quarantined, or otherwise unable to get their own supplies. “Seeing the opportunity to help people by providing a fast, safe and affordable solution is what led me into entrepreneurship and the grocery delivery business,” said Bastien.

Bastien’s favourite part of operating his business is the many interactions with his wonderful clients. “There is a lot of work that gets put into this business, and sometimes I lose motivation, but as soon as I am able to hand over someone's prized groceries from their favourite store, I know it was all worth it in the end.”

“The Summer Company program has given me great guidance and access to a wealth of knowledge and resources I have at my disposal to grow my business,” added Bastein. “It has provided me with funds to kickstart the business, and really give it the initial push that it deserves to become everything that it can.”

Efemena Eghujvobo: Simply Haircare

Simply Haircare is an online black female-owned business that provides select products for all hair types. The business promotes confidence and beauty through simple, all-natural products in the hopes of making customers truly love their hair.

For Summer Company student Efemena Eghujvobo, the idea of creating natural hair products had been a dream until recently when she was able to make it a reality. “I was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the huge amount of exposure small black-owned businesses were receiving and decided it was time I started my own with the products I had created.”

Like most entrepreneurs, Eghujvobo had a difficult time getting the word out there about her business. “Coming up with all the recipes is one thing, but I think the most difficult part of starting my business was spreading the word.” Luckily the Summer Company program was able to provide her business with exposure through online marketing and vendor events.

“The Summer Company Program has helped me and my business tremendously! Not only because of the grant that was given to help me with all the startup costs, but also all the support the program has given me,” said Eghujvobo, adding, “I have learned so much from this program as they have enlightened me on many aspects of running a business that I would have overlooked if I had been operating all on my own.”

Jessica Swizawski: Swizzy Scrunchies Co.

Swizzy Scrunchies Co. is a hair accessory business centred around scrunchies. Created with delicately chosen fabrics, the scrunchies are hand sewn and made with care. Locally sourced fabrics are used to provide a wide range of fabrics and colours.

Swizawski started her business because she was not able find good quality, fashionable scrunchies. Being surrounded by a culture of entrepreneurship in her family, she decided to create them herself. “My mom has her own business as well, so entrepreneurship has always been something that [is attractive to me].”

One obstacle Swizawski faces is balancing school and the business. But the COVID-19 pandemic has given her much needed time to focus in on her scunchies. “Recently, with school being out, I have been able to put a big portion of my time towards my company.”

Swizawski makes sure best practices are followed to keep her clients safe during this pandemic. “Before starting an order, we always sanitize our hands. Each order is individually packaged, and a mutually agreed time is set for pickup to ensure our clients do not come in contact with each other. We hope all our clients stay safe during this pandemic and we are doing our best to assure this.”

Although it is very busy for Swizawski, she enjoys the challenge and providing high-quality products to her customers. “My favourite part of my business is seeing my clients rocking their swizzy scrunchies! It brings me so much joy to see empowering women in the Windsor-Essex community enjoying my products.”

“I have learned so much already from the Summer Company program in such a short period of time. I have learned how to be a resilient leader, how to find my target market, as well as social media [advertising],” said Swizawski. “The mentors that have addressed our small group have all been so inspiring. I am so excited to further my journey with my fellow small business owners and see what the future holds for us.”

 

Joshua Bastien, Efemena Eghujvobo and Jessica Swizawski are WindsorEssex Small Business Centre clients participating in the Summer Company student entrepreneurship program. They received training, mentorship and $3,000 to start a summer business. You, too, can receive support in launching or expanding your small business. Contact the WindsorEssex Small Business Centre for more information.