Vanier’s business projects benefit food security and mental health charities

The Entrepreneurship 30 class kicked off its annual Junior Achievement program with an official launch on November 17.

Vanier Collegiate business students plan to sell warm clothes and hot food for class projects this semester, with a portion of the revenue going to charities focused on food security and mental health.

The Entrepreneurship 30 class kicked off its annual Junior Achievement program with an official launch on November 17. The two student-run businesses had set up tables in the lunchroom to sell their wares to fellow students and faculty and make it easier to buy early Christmas gifts.

Prairie Sky – “The sky has no limits” – is a clothing company that offers bunnyhugs, crewnecks, T-shirts, sweatpants, and a bundle of matching bunnyhugs and sweaters.

Twenty percent of the company’s proceeds go to Journey Hope, an organization focused on mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

Mix Inc. – “Anything but the sink!” – is a company that produces dry soup mixes flavored with Kick Butt Chicken Soup or Vegetable Medley; each makes four to five servings.

Twenty percent of the company’s proceeds go to Hunger in Moose Jaw.

Both companies will sell their products until mid-January. Both have a Shopify account and can be found on the school’s website.

Warm clothes

Prairie Sky chose to sell clothing because a student-run business sold similar items a few years ago and generated so much revenue that the students donated a large check to their charity, co-chair Kate Waldenberger explains. Moreover, it is winter and people like to wear warm clothes.

The students bought their Prairie Sky-branded clothes at The Shop, a strip mall business near the Town ‘n’ Country Mall. The store presses the clothes while the young people sell them.

Waldenberger took Entrepreneurship 30 because of the life skills she could learn and apply in everyday life – at school or in business. So far, she’s learned how to create receipts, issue order forms, connect with residents and business owners, and determine how to create a Shopify account.

Co-chairman Colby Clarke explained that he took the course because he hoped to run a sporting goods store and wanted the entrepreneurial skills beforehand. Some skills include promotions, learning how to set up a business and understanding the necessary work ethic.

Both co-chairs agreed that interacting with people – especially their teammates – was an eye-opening experience. They have a large group so it is challenging to keep everyone entertained as they don’t make the clothes and there is a lot of free time.

Still, Waldenberger thought her teammates – and the public – would support the project because The Shop is a community business and the proceeds support a worthy cause.

The group chose Journey to Hope because many Vanier students have faced significant mental health challenges in recent years, including losing a fellow student to suicide in the year 2021-22.

“Even after that, things affect everyone differently, and it’s something that (everyone) needs to be more aware of, especially in this day and age where it’s everywhere,” added Waldenberger.

Hot food

Mix Inc. focused on selling food because they wanted to offer something that was quick and easy to make, especially for athletes or those with little time to cook, explains Lance Santos, the group’s head of HR.

“… many times I would come home from football and there would be no dinner because my father was at work and my mother was helping the team,” said president Stephen Walcer. “So it would be such a good project if we could just start a pot of water and throw the food in — and it’s easy to watch.”

There’s more work to running a business than meets the eye, Santos said. He has learned more about production and being organized than he ever thought possible.

Some lessons they hope to learn include how to start a business, run it, and connect with the community. They added that their group chose Hungry in Moose Jaw because it fits their company’s food theme.

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