Young entrepreneurs learn to create, research and sell at Acton Academy’s annual show

By Mike Cook

“We definitely took lemons and made lemonade out of them,” said Anna Biad, founder of Acton Academy Mesilla Valley (AAMV), of the annual Las Cruces school trade fair, which continues until ” to June 17 at

The show started in 2016, when AAMV opened, Biad said, but was canceled last year and had to be held fully online this year due to Covid-19. But that hasn’t stopped around sixty students at the school, ages 6 to 16, from creating products to sell this year.

The range of items available is “incredibly diverse,” Biad said.

On sale you will find clothing, jewelry, woodwork, candles, books, art (including an original coloring book and abstract crystal paintings), homemade games, cosmetics, products. bath, mugs, stickers, inflatable balloon kit, essential oils, greeting cards, key chains, storage trays, pet leashes, rubber molds, face masks, tic tac toe rocks, a 3D printed self-watering planter, Flex-Rex dinosaurs, toys and more.

Prices range from $ 3 to $ 40, with most items costing $ 10 or less.

Each student entrepreneur attending the fair chose their own product, researched and created it, evaluated it and, if financial support was needed, presented it to an investor, Biad said.

A panel of shark judges looked at each “company” and rated it for its viability, profitability and overall presentation, Biad said, and chose nine winners for first, second and third place. The best pavers have received business investments of up to $ 150.

The winners of the Discovery West competition (third and fourth years) were: Cooper Gandy, first place; Juliette Martinez, second; and Emerson Phillips, third place, all 9 years old. The winners of the Discovery East competition (fourth and fifth years) were: Lilah Berkson, 11, first place; Holden Abrams, 9, second place; and Piper Gandy, 11, third. Winners in the Journey / Launchpad (sixth to 11e notes) were: Lexi Schwartz, 16, first place; Mary Hadrian, 15, second; and Henry Tatum, 12, third.

Entrepreneurship is “such a powerful skill,” Biad said. Students learn how to take a product from idea to production, develop a brand, create a marketing strategy, and speak publicly about their product. They also inquire about packaging, shipping and curbside pickup, depending on their customers’ preferences.

Sometimes young entrepreneurs also learn to deal with disappointment, Biad said, if, for example, they don’t create enough products to meet demand, undervalue their product and end up losing money or ending up. with bad sales.

Overcoming these failures is part of what they learn from the fair, said Biad, which is so valuable in a setting other than the classroom.

The annual fair is “one of our most popular activities,” said Biad. And going virtual this year fits well with the school’s year-round focus on technology.

Biad said the fair was inspired by her own success with “all the small businesses I had as a kid,” she said, including selling hot chocolate and mistletoe on a Christmas. She even learned QuickBooks when she was 14.

“AAMV uses the latest technology in a self-paced learning environment designed to foster responsibility, goal setting and teamwork,” according to the school’s website. “Acton students are empowered to thrive in a world that needs independent and motivated thinkers and learners.”

The academy will have around 100 students when the new school year begins in September, Biad said.

What young entrepreneurs have learned from business experience

“I’ve learned that centripetal force and high pressure air have a lot of power and duct tape is the best tool,” said Holden Abrams, 9. He sells an air-powered potato gun and a ball of duct tape on a string. “I liked to make things go far,” he said. This is Holden’s third trade fair.

Lexi Schwartz, 16, said she learned that “doing something you love is more important than something you do to do it.” She made New Mexico wildlife stickers. This is her fourth trade fair and she said she “put her whole heart and soul into it this time around”.

“I learned that coloring was fun,” said Cooper Gandy, 9. He made square wooden calendars for the trade show.

“I’ve learned that if you don’t put the effort into something it probably won’t go well,” said Juliet Martinez, 9, who made dog blankets and chew toys.

“Resin is a difficult material to use,” said Piper Gandy, 11, adding, “I had a lot of fun.” She made resin rings.

“Making mud is tough,” said Emerson “Emme” Phillips, 9. “It’s shrinking.” She made and sells slime during the fair.

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