AMHERST – Besides learning how to make money, young entrepreneurs in Grades 9 to 12 are learning many life skills.
“Running a business is new to us and it gives us valuable skills for the future,” said Kruz Flemming, who is one of 17 young entrepreneurs who make up the Knotty Knotters.
Flemming is the president of the Amherst Young Achievers and is in his third full year with the group.
“You need good coordination and good communication,” said Flemming. “You have to speak to each other so we can help one another if there are any delays.”
The Knotty Knotters handcraft custom-made friendship bracelets, key chains, necklaces, and other accessories made from multi-coloured thread, including thread made from hemp.
After winning the regional Junior Achievement Pitch It competition in Truro, Flemming and several other team members, including Kendall Brine, Taylor Johnson and Lezlie Carde, recently pitched Knotty Knotters at the Pitch It competition in Halifax.
The judges at Junior Achievers Pitch It competition were Dianne Buckner of CBC’s ‘Dragons Den’, Mark Surrette president of Knightsbridge, and Mike Brown, owner of Green Gutter Solution.
The Knotty Knotters were one of the runners up to Tea Works, which is run by students at Rankin School of the Narrows in Cape Breton.
“They (the Knotty Knotters) had a good argument for their product and defended the product very well,” said Mike Priest, branch manager at the Amherst CIBC, who is one of three advisors to the group. The other two advisors are Bill Monroe and Mac Hawco.
Much of Knotty Knotters success in the Pitch It competition comes from their marketing.
“They liked that we’re donating to multiple charities,” said Flemming. “And we’re using different sizes of bracelets and taking requests on demand.”
The Junior Achievers is a non-profit organization. Charities the group donates to include Run for the Cure, Ronald McDonald House and the Kids Help Phone.
They are currently making 200 units for a local business.
Smaller bracelets take about 15 minutes to make and the thicker ones can take up to four hours.
“Smaller bracelets are one dollar, the thicker ones are two dollars and, depending on how long it takes for a custom made one, it can cost anywhere from $3 to $10,” said Flemming. “If somebody wants something customized we can do that, or we have ones already made that people can choose from.”
Priest said being an advisor is fun.
“Ultimately it’s teaching youth about setting up a team, establishing a company and the executives, and then making a product,” said Priest. “They’re real go-getters this year. The margins are good and they show good profits.”
Another reason for their success is the size of the group.
“In previous years the most people we had was seven, but there’s other company’s I’ve heard of that have 33 members,” said Flemming. “I think that would be too many to work with, so I like the size we have here. 11”
Flemming says the group works together really well.
“We’ve learned a lot about keeping a team together throughout our joining of executive and workers,” said Flemming. “It’s really about the friendship that it builds and the teaching of new skills.”
Anybody wanting to buy an accessory from the Knotty Knotters can go to facebook at Amherst JA team 2013-2014, and leave a message.