Student Entrepreneurs at Westridge
One of the products Em is looking to sell
By Isabella W.
December 16, 2019
Along with the regular workload that comes along with junior year, two Westridge juniors handle the work and responsibility of managing their own businesses that each have the ability to make a lasting impact.
Kathleen C. ’21 has always been interested in business, and after attending a summer business program with other high schoolers, she and a few other participants decided to start their own company called Wake.
Although it is not officially launched, Wake is a wristband drivers can wear to monitor their alertness while behind the wheel. When their heart rate drops eight to ten beats per minute, it will then vibrate to wake up the user. After hearing a story about how her uncle had fallen asleep at the wheel while driving with her then-pregnant mother, Kathleen knew that this was a serious issue for drivers that needed to be addressed.
“When I was thinking of ideas with my co-founders about what problems we should address with our business, one of them was drivers who fall asleep at the wheel, such as my uncle, because we don’t want any pregnant moms to get injured or in a car accident,” said Kathleen.
In order to address this problem, Kathleen and her co-founders found a simple yet effective solution. “We discovered that truck drivers have the most need for a solution to this problem because they drive 12-14 hours a day and can have early morning shifts to shifts in the middle of the night for most of the week,” she explained.
Em S. ’21 also attended a business program over the summer—the Oxbridge entrepreneurship program. After the program, they were inspired to create their own sustainable clothing company.
“I liked the mission of the company I made at the camp, which was to create sustainable clothing and decrease carbon emissions because a large percent are actually caused by textiles,” explained Em.
Their company, Chamylion Couture, recycles used or unwanted clothing, either from people or thrift stores, and then makes new pieces out of those clothes to sell. Em provides a way for people to purchase clothing while decreasing their environmental impact.
Em hopes their business can officially launch as soon as possible. However, schoolwork has delayed the process, as finding time to sew or do other things for the company has been a challenge. They have found ways to work around their busy schedule and continue to manage the company.
Being so young in a highly competitive industry has been a challenge for Em. “Needing other people’s expertise is sometimes frustrating because I want to be independent and do things by myself,” they shared. Recognizing they may not be as experienced as those who have been in business for longer has allowed them to open up to help. “It’s not my first choice to ask for help, but I also need to recognize that asking for help is useful at all stages in life and isn’t something I’ll just need to do because I don’t have as much experience as others,” they explained.
Kathleen, founder of Wake, feels that being young does not put her at a disadvantage because she has the ability to access the resources she needs, which makes high school the perfect time to start a business.
Since her other co-founders live in New Jersey and the UK, Kathleen’s challenges are more geographical. While this may be complicated, they do not let their distance limit them and still find time to collaborate with each other because of their dedication to the company.
Kathleen is also in the process of making a podcast with her family friend Natalia, who is a current senior at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s mainly targeted for young entrepreneurs, but also for anyone who has any entrepreneurial drive. In the podcast we talk about what the entire business process is like,” she shared. They give advice and provide resources to those who don’t have access to what they need to start a business.
Both Em and Kathleen remain dedicated to their businesses because of their commitment to helping others. “My different business endeavours over the last couple of years have been really fun and have made me feel like I'm making an impact on the world and that I actually have the power to do something,” explained Kathleen.