Entrepreneurial Class Leads Student To Gem Of An Idea

By Jermaine Pigee Daily Gazette, Sterling, Ill.

STERLING

During the day, Rachel Humphreys is a regular Newman Central Catholic High School senior.

But by night, the self-proclaimed girly-girl becomes a well-dressed, 18-year-old entrepreneur.

With the help of the Whiteside Area Career Center CEO class (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities), which she took last year, Humphreys started Dainty. She sells jewelry.

"In that class, one of the requirements at the end of the year was to create our own business," she said.

At first, she wasn't sure what she wanted that business to be. When she got a necklace for Christmas, "It just all fell into place," she said.

So far, two vendors are selling her pieces, one in New York and one in Israel. She found them on Etsy, a peer-to-peer e-commerce website.

"All of my products are handmade by professional jewelry-makers," she said.

The Sterling teen, daughter of Mark and Carol Humphreys, plans to continue building her business after she graduates, and will major in entrepreneurship at Indiana University.

"Right now, the business is wholesale, but I will take a couple classes on how to create jewelry so I can make my own," she said. "I'm also working on creating a website."

Sales now are based mostly on word of mouth, although a woman from China did find her jewelry on Pinterest and contacted her about a purchase.

"Once the business gets up and running, I will put it on the Wanelo shopping app," Humphreys said. "People can buy things directly from me off that app."

It's not all e-ads, though -- she also plays it a little old school, passing out business cards and company pens.

She credits the CEO class for her success.

"That class taught me everything about entrepreneurship," she said. "It taught me everything about business, and it taught me to network in the real world. It's a real, legit class."

The 2-credit CEO class has become very popular. It's offered to juniors and seniors only, and its students are selected through a rigorous application process.

It's as real-world as it gets.

Before they can start their own business, students must create three business plans. There are no textbooks: Local business professionals are brought in to speak about marketing, customer service, insurance and social media, among other areas. In addition, they give tours of their job sites, listen to students' product pitches, and offer advice and guidance.

For example, "When the students wrote a business plan, they spoke to some bankers," said LeAndra Hartman, class facilitator.

Some classes are held off campus, at different businesses throughout the area, and the students even are asked to dress business casual.

"They are learning to be business professionals," Hartman said. "We are putting them in business casual clothes, and we are working in business settings."

The class is even funded by local investors. The goal is to create a successful entrepreneur from the ground up.

Humphreys is well on her way.

Managing school and a business has been hard, but well worth it, she said.

"I have some long nights, but it's something I'm passionate about, and I want to continue it. Why not put in the effort?"

Dainty deals Go to Pinterest.com/daintybyrachel or Daintybyrachelhumphreys on Instagram to see more of Rachel Humphreys' jewelry.

Want to buy some? [email protected] is her email address.

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