“Mom I don’t think I need any of this stuff. I just want it.”
This was my daughter, Rachael’s, assessment of the advertised items in the teen magazines we were flipping through as part of a One Hen activity on marketing. This exercise is one of many that Rachael and I completed as part of our One Hen Academy (OHA) project.
The magazine activity involved identifying “need” vs. “want”-based advertising and led Rachael and I into a great conversation about tactics that companies use to manipulate their buyers. Our conclusion: a teen magazine is not the place to look for needs-based advertising. Why? Because these magazines’ target teenage girls whose needs are usually met by their parents and who typically have disposable income (from part-time jobs or allowance money) to use for purchasing things they want.
This is just one of the many business lessons Rachael I have explored through OHA and our One Hen business start-up project.
Our Business Status Update
In addition to One Hen’s marketing lessons, Rachael and I have continued learning about micro-finance and social entrepreneurship. We have learned what it takes to create a business (OHA Modules 3 and 4), receive and repay a loan with interest (OHA Module 3), and remain organized so we are able to reaching our business goals (OHA Module 6).
These lessons have enabled Rachael and I to start our own soap business and we are now ready to begin selling our products. We have high hopes that our soap sales will yield enough revenue to repay our material costs and allow us to donate an equal or larger portion of our profits to charity.
Research is a Must!
Some of the most important business lessons Rachael and I have learned from One Hen are the importance of doing up-front research on our market and sales venues and being flexible with our business plan. These lessons came into play with our initial product ideas. We started our business originally planning to make soaps, lotions and desk gardens. However, after doing a careful cost analysis, we discovered it would be too expensive to make all of these products and embraced a less-is-more philosophy by focusing only on the creation of soaps. Similarly, we were sure that the local farmers’ market would be our ideal selling venue, only to realize that there was a glut of soaps already being sold at the market. This revelation led us to revise our business strategy so we could focus on selling the soaps to small local shops and through an Etsy store.
Choosing a Charity
Led by the One Hen activities, Rachel and I have also rethought the charity to which we would like to donate. Initially, we had envisioned giving to an organization that encompassed driving safety, however we have now decided on a totally different cause. After attending a One Hen camp at the Jubilee Christian Church this summer I was introduced to a wonderful group of girls who are part of an organization called Reaching Into Self-Esteem, or R.I.S.E. This program works to help girls (ages 6-12) enhance their self-esteem while supporting their spiritual, social, physical, and emotional development. Both Rachael and I were moved by this program and its importance and are thrilled to support these girls with the profits from our soap business.
Bonding through Our Business
As the One Hen Academy lessons come to an end, I am happy that Rachael and I will continue the project by selling our soaps and perhaps taking on another One Hen business venture. Our time working on this business project has been a wonderful experience for both of us. I have seen Rachael build her skills in math and business and gain a marketing mindset. More importantly, I have seen her self-confidence increase as she gains these new skills and knowledge. Designing, developing and succeeding in business is a powerful accomplishment, no matter how small the business.
Personally, I’ve also treasured the time I have been able to spend with my daughter and the amazing discussions we have had about business, community and global needs, and our role as earners and donors in the global community.
Please take a moment to visit our Etsy shop and think about purchasing a bar of Charming Soap – these soaps make great gifts for people young and old, are perfect for the holidays – plus, you will be supporting a worthy cause – sorry just had to plug our product with lessons learned from the One Hen Academy!
This is Part 4 of a blog series that describes the adventures Hillary Pember had working with her 14 year-old daughter, Rachael, to complete the One Hen Academy program at home. In Part 1 Hillary shares how she first engaged Rachael in the One Hen program and in Part 2 she describes their process of building brand identity around their first mother-daughter business. In Part 3 Rachael and Hillary tackle the highs and lows of product pricing and production. Stay tuned for part 5 where Hillary and Rachael answer questions about their One Hen at Home experience.
Hillary K. Pember is a freelance writer living in Massachusetts. After working in management consulting for close to twenty years she decided to focus on her writing and take on the far more challenging (but far more enriching) job of staying at home with her three children. She is proud supporter of One Hen and through her writing hopes to highlight the vision and mission the organization holds dear.