For entrepreneurs Lizzie-O. Blackburn ’22, Carolyn Whatley ’23, and Zoey Horn ’22, the summer of 2021 provided some unique challenges – and some unique opportunities. Changing processes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, battling unpredictable weather during outdoor sales, and rebranding on short notice were just a few.
“We did really well this summer,” said Blackburn of her produce stand business
. “We sold 25 more boxes each Friday, so 625 pounds, more than we did each Friday last season!”
For Blackburn, expanding from peaches into other produce sales was an opportunity to provide more for consumers faced with traditional supply chain disruptions.
“Due to COVID-19, the supply chain in grocery stores for produce has been disrupted so we offered a larger variety of produce including locally grown bell peppers, watermelon, okra, and corn, which we grew on my family farm.”
For Blackburn, the lessons she learned as a tour guide (COE) for the Office of Admissions were invaluable for sales.
“My experience with being a COE truly does impact how I sell peaches and other produce,” she noted. “I think the lessons I have learned selling produce and selling Chatham Hall go hand in hand.”
Whatley ’23 experienced increased sales as well. She rebranded her Pimento Gold cheese
to Paw-Mento Cheese to make her mission of assisting homeless animal populations more visible.
“I transformed my Paw-Mento Cheese business into a fundraiser that would pay for the actual transportation of island animals in St. Croix to the mainland United States for adoption. Because of my work in St. Croix and with a local veterinarian in North Carolina, word of my product and my mission became widespread and really increased my sales. Several nice articles shared on social media helped greatly. Paw-Mento Cheese was sold not only in North Carolina but in South Carolina and Virginia through small pop-up shops. My sales doubled this summer in comparison to sales in the past, and I really learned that people will purchase a product that supports a cause that is meaningful to them.”
On challenging days, Whatley often turned to the support she has experienced at Chatham Hall.
“When I was so tired of making Paw-Mento Cheese, I kept focusing on my mission to help these helpless animals. I kept hearing my riding coach telling me to push through and I kept hearing my Advisor telling me that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and I just kept on manufacturing, labeling, and marketing.”
Copper’s Cookie Co., Horn’s horse treat business
, increased sales by approximately nine percent this summer despite absorbing more costs in pandemic-related precautions.
“I took more precautions in the handling process,” Horn explained. “For example, now I always use the fastest shipping method possible to avoid too many people touching the packaging.”
Finances were an area in which Horn put lessons from the School’s entrepreneurism program to good use.
“With the help of Ms. Barksdale, I was able to get a nice and neat organizational system for my finances regarding the company and create a new website. Even though I completed the Global Entrepreneurism course last year I hope to still work with Ms. Barksdale and take in all the knowledge she has to share.”