Young East Hawaii entrepreneurs build business skills this weekend

  • Courtesy photo From left, Dayci Oshiro, Jaylen Mae Arzaga and Eco-Aloha‚Äôs President Liayla-Romona Pinnow etch Mason jars.

Sixty-five students from five East Hawaii high schools are getting a real-world lesson in entrepreneurship this weekend.

For the past 12 weeks, they designed, test-marketed and manufactured their products, and today, on Black Friday they’ll find out how well their wares sell during the Junior Achievement Trade Fair.

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The annual two-day event is slated from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today and Saturday near the Macy’s women’s wing at Prince Kuhio Plaza.

The students are organized into three companies, each sponsored by a local business and advised by members of Hilo’s business community.

Ohana Products is sponsored by Big Island Toyota. It will be selling assorted sticker packs and homemade Morse code bracelets with beaded messages such as “Ohana,” “Hope,” “Wish,” “Love” and “Friend.” The stickers can be placed on water bottles and laptops.

“The universal designs of our stickers allows us to sell to various personalities,” says Brook-Lynn Haa, Ohana’s vice president of marketing.

Eco-Aloha, sponsored by HFS Federal Credit Union, is presenting its eco-friendly products. Its reusable glass Mason jar is etched with the company name and includes a colored grommet, a reusable metal straw and a straw cleaner. The company’s second product is an ecological pair of reusable wooden chopsticks packaged in a muslin bag.

“I love to see us young adults working together to create unique products that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but environmentally friendly,” said Kanoe Adolfo, Eco-Aloha’s vice president of public relations.

HPM Building Supply, with assistance from advisers from Bank of Hawaii, sponsors the self-named Aspire. Aspire hand-made memory boards and sea-glass jewelry.

Memory boards are wooden frames with a wire grid backing that come with mini-clothes pins to attach photos and mementos. For its jewelry product, the company sourced sea glass collected at various Big Island beaches, then hand-wrapped each unique glass piece in silver wire and added a chain.

“The goal for our products is to provide quality while establishing a relationship with our customers,” said Aspire’s vice president of public relations, John Kenny.

Junior Achievement teaches students the aspects of operating a business, from selecting a name and product, manufacturing and building products, through liquidation — all in the span of one semester.

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“It’s incredible seeing these students experience hands-on what it takes to be successful in running a business,” said JA District Manager Alan Shiraishi. “Not only are they developing an understanding of business, but they are practicing real-world skills, like communication and the importance of showing up to work on time.

For more information about JA programs on the Big Island, contact Shiraishi at jahilo@jahawaii.org or visit the trade fair this weekend at Prince Kuhio Plaza.

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