Summer Company experience provides life-long education

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Windsor Star/Dave Waddell


School doesn’t start until next week, but for the 18 students who graduated from the Summer Company program Monday they’ve received an education that you won’t find in textbooks that’ll last a lifetime.

“This program is absolutely fantastic,” said 17-year-old Aiden Bradwell, whose business, Bradwell Applications, offers computer and phone software training for seniors.

“It’s a real good opportunity for anyone who’s interested in turning their dream into reality and taking the next step in what they want to do with their lives.”

The program is run through the Small Business Centre as part of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation.

Now in its 17th summer, the provincially funded program provides students with up to $1,500 in startup money and up to another $1,500 upon completion of the program.

The students are provided with support through the centre and access to local business people as mentors. The group met every two weeks to discuss their experiences and progress.

The Summer Company is open to full-time students between 15 and 22 years of age.

This year the businesses ranged from film and photography to sewing to an all-natural smoothie bar.

Madison Young, who started Art by Madison PJ Young, said the program allowed her to see how her creative side fit comfortably with the discipline required to run a small business.

“They actually fit together quite nicely,” the 15-year-old Young said.

“Art has always been my passion and when I found out you could make a business out of it, immediately I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

“I’ve done a few commissions for people, but never took it seriously like I have for the past couple of months.

“This has really helped me grow my business.”

Jessica Phillips owns Baby Phillips Creations, which specializes in personal gifts and manufactures customized nursery bedding in Windsor, served as a mentor in the program.

“It pushes you into areas you don’t think about when starting a new business,” said Phillips, who took a business startup course through the Small Business Centre before launching her own operation.

“Things like all the government requirements for small business.

“The students need that guidance. I was so grateful for all the help that I received from the Small Business Centre that I felt it was absolutely necessary when they ask me to be involved in the program to give back.”

Phillips was impressed with this year’s crop of students, but admits they face a much more challenging environment in starting their businesses.

She counselled passion and patience are the keys to building a new business.

“Opening a small business is definitely more difficult with online (shopping),” Phillips said. “Online is wonderful, but the competition is not only local, it’s abroad now.

“The way you do business is at such a fast pace now. You need to be able to roll with the times.

“It’s a much bigger market now than it was 10 years ago.”

Ben Arquette-Jumel said the education he’s received the past two months is much more thorough than just business training.

“Being enrolled in Summer Company has really been a blast,” said Arquette-Jumel, who founded a 3D printing firm called Printable Canada.

“I’ve learned so much the last two months, not only about my business, but myself. It has all been at such an accelerated pace.

“I would recommend this program even if you’re not serious about continuing on with your business. You’re going to learn a ton about yourself.”