Summer Company participants liking it so far
While so far there has been a fair bit of trial and error, Summer Company entrepreneur Selina Deng, of Blank Canvas Art, is grateful to be involved in the program.
Deng, who has mainly been showcasing her work at the Brockville Farmers’ Market, was there July 7 working away on a recent project and greeting customers. Deng creates landscape, acrylic and watercolour paintings.
Getting started was a little bit on the slow side, she recounted, as she figured out what needed to be done and what steps had to be taken in getting the business up and running. Having said that, she noted she has received “a lot of great advice,” both from program mentors, as well as other participating students.
“It is great to have other people to bounce ideas off of,” said Deng, adding that, if she had ventured out on her own, “it would have taken me a lot longer.”
For the most part, she is spending her time at the farmers’ market location, as well as adding an online component to her sales through Etsy.
As she did not know the area as well as her program mentors, she noted they have provided “a lot of valuable suggestions” to ensure she is on the road to success.
When the program comes to a completion, Deng will be heading to school in Toronto. She will be studying architectural science at Ryerson University.
She may keep some of her works online and sell past the end of the program itself. Other students involved in the Summer Company program, she said, intend on keeping their companies up and running for longer.
Jackson Phillips is one of the participating entrepreneurs who intends to do just that. Once the summer is over he hopes to expand upon his business – All Hands on Deck. The Summer Company participant says once he returns to high school in the fall, he hopes to continue to “brainstorm, to see how I can grow the business.”
Phillips’ business features boat cleaning services in area marinas, including Rockport, Prescott and Brockville. Phillips provides interior and exterior cleaning services.
“I am really enjoying myself,” he explained of the summer so far. As with Deng, he noted the mentors involved with the program have provided “great tips,” and have really helped in shaping and growing his business.
“I do like the program. It is a chance to talk and converse with other young entrepreneurs,” he said. It has also helped in terms of future planning. “It’s just a wonderful program.”
This year’s Summer Company program features 12 participating entrepreneurs. Participants have businesses ranging from athletics, photography, wood creations, boat cleaning services and more.
Jade Cotie, Summer Company coordinator with the Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre, explained the participants are all “coachable,” and have set goals and plans to work toward them.
“We have a good group of participants,” Jeanette Johnston, business development coordinator for the LGSBEC, echoed. “I am looking forward to seeing the end result.”
Both women note the training and mentoring the young entrepreneurs receive gives them confidence to move forward and to feel as if they can achieve the goals they set for themselves.
Networking events will be put on in order to get the students integrated and so far events have been held, including a breakfast, which saw tips exchanged amongst participants and mentors. The program itself is funded by the provincial government, providing hands-on business training and mentoring.
Students are awarded up to $3,000. The funds themselves are to aid the young entrepreneurs start up and run their summer business. The first portion of the award, up to $1,500, is given in the early summer in order to aid in business start-up costs. In the fall an additional $1,500 is given upon successful completion of the Summer Company business as well as proof of a return to school.
The program also provides a twice-monthly opportunity to meet for advice and support with a local business mentorship group.
Selina Deng, of Blank Canvas Art in Brockville, is a Summer Company program participant. She is seen here July 7 at the Brockville Farmers’ Market working on a recent project and selling her works.