Teens from Wallowa County’s Mentor Match Youth Entrepreneur Program on Friday, March 13, traveled to Baker City to participate in the first ever Rural Teen Entrepreneur Summit.
The summit brought together the teen entrepreneurs from Lostine, Enterprise and Joseph to meet with teens from Harney County, and teens from Baker County. The summit was hosted by Launch Pad Baker, a nonprofit incubator space, and its director Bryan Tweit. The daylong event celebrated rural teen entrepreneurs.
“I enjoyed learning ways to respond to failure,” said Enterprise junior Katrina Haines, whose business, KH Custom Stickers, launched last fall. “I also got good ideas for how to make my product better.”
Foster Hobbs, founder of Lostine River Forge, brought examples of the decorative hooks and door pulls he makes out of a blacksmith shop he created in an old shed on his family’s property outside Lostine.
“I liked hearing about the other businesses and talking with young entrepreneurs,” said Foster, a senior at Enterprise High School. “I learned that the most important thing isn’t talent, it’s perseverance.”
Aubrina Melville, an Enterprise junior, founded Laundry Lambs, chemical-free dryer balls made from wool, for an all-natural alternative to dryer sheets. Melville was advised to raise her prices.
“People who care about all-natural and chemical-free options will pay more,” said Vanessa Spriet of Baker, a social media specialist.
“It helped me learn more about how to market my business,” Melville said.
Forget-Me-Not Designs, founded by Joseph Charter School junior Zoey Leith, had the most successful launch in the program’s nine-year history, making more than $400 at two local holiday bazaars in December.
“I learned a lot today about improving sales and marketing,” Leith said.
Wesley Johnson received valuable tips on how to discipline himself to stay inside the rental shop at Ferguson Ski Ridge waiting for customers for his Ski & Snowboard Wax business, when he really wanted to be out on the slopes with friends.
“Get there early and have clear hours of operation in the morning and the later afternoon, so you can ski in between,” Tweit advised.
Plans are to continue the summit next year.
“It was great to have so many come out to support this,” said Brenda Smith, executive director and Mentor Match adviser from High Desert Partnership in Harney County. “Listening to these young entrepreneurs’ stories was the best part.”