Jackie Bergill-Gentile, a senior at King Kekaulike High School, calls herself an “overachiever” and so it’s no wonder that she chose to challenge herself by opening a business for her senior project. As part of her research, she completed a six-week online business class offered through UH Outreach College as part of the Ed2Go program. The course entitled, “How to Start Your Own Small Business,” was an eye-opener for Jackie. She said, “It taught me the fundamentals like hiring employees, dealing with employees, choosing the right business for your life style, making wise investments, and creating a business plan.”
She followed this up by writing a research paper on reasons why small businesses fail. The creative part of her effort was deciding on a product to sell. She focused on handmade hair ties that she called “Lokabands” after seeing how her sisters were spending up to $3 for one of the hair ties and realizing how the ties worked well in your hair. She felt she could make them more cheaply. She began by making and selling hair ties to her sisters and quickly moved to advertising the hair ties on a website she designed. At the school’s Christmas carnival, she signed up for a booth where she successfully sold her product. She made the ties from elastic that didn’t leave dent lines when you removed them. She made most of the ties herself; but more recently, her mother has been helping her. Jackie recently added headbands to her repertoire.
Commenting on her entrepreneurial experience, Jackie said: “Opening a business is very challenging. It took a lot of time but I learned how to grow my money. I only invested $20 that became $160. I put half of the money in savings as security and invested the other half.” Jackie thanked Mrs. Emily Haines, STEM instructor who teaches design technology at the school, as her mentor, and also her older sister, Josephine, who provided encouragement and help throughout the project. Jackie’s future goal is to attend Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and to become a trauma surgeon.