Young Entrepreneurs

Eva Wozniczka, Morality Manager

Becoming a self-employed entrepreneur and running all aspects of a business can be very difficult. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “about 20% of U.S. small businesses fail within the first year. By the end of their fifth year, roughly 50% have faltered. After 10 years, only around a third of businesses have survived.” People do not know where to start, and they do not have the tools and confidence to give it a try. However, Lalpiang Lawmi ’22 made it her goal to start her own business and she did it all through the Entrepreneurship class at the high school. 

Entrepreneurship is a yearlong course taught by Business Teacher Tim Brickley. The class is an elective and students can earn three University of Iowa credits. The Course Registration website provides a detailed description of the class, “Entrepreneurship provides students with the opportunity to run a student-designed, student-produced, and student-led business. Students work together to effectively run all aspects of the business including marketing, finance, design, management, communications and operations.”

Through this class, Lawmi learned all the proper skills to successfully launch her small business. “My business is basically decorating tote bags…and where I got this idea from is I love to go to libraries and so I was like, ‘well, I should try making something to carry my books and stuff’,'”said Lawmi.  “Since we were doing projects in Entrepreneurship I was like, ‘I should come up with something that will be useful for me.’” 

Lawmi had never used tote bags prior to her launching her business. “I haven’t and so I saw a lot of aesthetic on social media and stuff so that kinda inspired me to make it into a reality,” said Lawmi. Tote bags have been on the rise for a while and are a great way to be stylish and eco friendly. 

Lawmi started working to sell her decorated totes right away. She used her own money for all her materials and is already making a profit. “I charge $18 for one bag, but you get to choose 1-3 patches to put on the bag and letters, like anything. You can customize it anyway you want it,” said Lawmi. “If they want an extra patch I charge them $1 per extra patch.” She originally ordered 31 plain totes and is hoping to sell out soon. “ I have made about roughly $250 and if I sold all of them, I’m supposed to make $558 but since I spent about $218 to buy the products and stuff… that’s $339 profit.” Lawmi said.

Being an entrepreneur is Lawmi’s passion in life, after graduating she is planning on attending Iowa State. “I’m going to major in Entrepreneurship and International Business at ISU. I wanted to have some background of what it was like to have a small business.” Lawmi said. She has only gotten positive feedback and loves seeing her totes out in public. “A friend of mine uses it for church and she puts her bibles and other materials, essential stuff in it.” Lawmi said.

Her goal moving forward is to continue the business and possibly expand. “I want to do this as a side hustle…maybe I can change it into a different style and stuff but I’m thinking about doing it after Entrepreneurship but I’m not sure yet, it depends,” Lawmi said. The class gave her the platform she needed to start a business from the ground up.  She spent weeks brainstorming ideas and researching the best materials to make the highest quality tote bags. “The material is very thick and other tote bags my friend bought from other websites are very thin, and this one is strong. It’s canvas too so I think that makes it a bit more valuable.” said Lawmi. 

Entrepreneurship is a great opportunity for students to explore business and to work creatively with others and independently. “I am very into business and I think it challenges me out of my comfort zone.” Lawmi said. She recommends this class to everyone even if they are not passionate about business. “It’s very good for trying out new things, and seeing what you’re good at and seeing your potential and it’s really good to explore.” Lawmi said.

Check out her Instagram for her small business and DM her to place an order @piangpiang_tote!