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'2015 UH retail business plan contest'

‘Small business start-up recognizes small business potential in students’

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2015 UH retail business plan contest

A whooping $1,500 went to small business Pololia Glasswork, owned by arts and science major Shayna Nichols on May 12 at the 2015 University of Hawaiʻi Retail Business Plan Contest held in Campus Center Room 308.

A total of 18 teams developed retail business plans. The contest was planned and organized by Professor Youngjin Bahng to help the students that took her Fashion Design and Merchandising program 437 Small Business Start-up course in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 start their own retail businesses.

At the event, three finalists presented their business plans by showing their product samples and store floor plan. They also explained their sourcing, marketing, financial plans, backup plans and SWOTs (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).

Bahng opened the event with Maria Gallo, Dean of College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) and Susan Yamada, Executive Director of PACE. Both individuals had remarks recognizing FDM’s long-time partners (DFS, Valerie Joseph, Fightiing eel, the CutCollectives, etc) and the fashion/retail industry supporting the students.

Second place ($700) went to White Elephant, owned by fashion design and merchandising student Victoria Prince, and third place ($500) went to Common Goods, owned by FDM student Christopher Ching.

The event gave the students the opportunity to showcase their creativity through business ideas and plans; the ability to network with community leaders and alumni; and earn cash rewards while testing their products or services at the Honolulu Night Market.

“I am incredibly honored to have been a part of this competition,” said Shayna Nichols, first prize winner. “I am a studio art major, and I have no background in business or finance of any kind. I create products to sell, but I had no idea of how a business would function or even where to start. All of the encouragement, guidance and hard work that professor Bahng has invested in FDM 437 and in her students has helped me to be successful throughout the entire semester. Because of this, I have come closer to reaching my goals of small business ownership than ever before.”

The FDM 437 course was created to incorporate students’ skills obtained through Fashion Merchandising courses and Business courses and use them to begin retail business plans. Even though the class is restricted to FDM majors, many students from other majors have taken the course.

Students have particularly found the course to be beneficial in future business planning. The course provided room for trial and error while building their plans, along with the guidance of a professor experienced in business planning.

“I prepared for my business proposal by doing a lot of researching, visiting the area in which I planned to open a business and observing other competitors with similar products or business models as mine,” said Nichols. “I compared my prices to those competitors, and the price of retail space for rent by the square foot. I considered the return on my investment and rental pricing and overhead costs.”

Different retail business plans ranged from men’s or women’s contemporary wear to modernized aloha wear, bikinis, accessories, shoes, caps, glasswork, foods, detox juice, space rental for artists and redesigned luxury goods.