By Ivy Lam
At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a new student-run company called Smile Senders was created as part of the Junior Achievement program. Run by the senior hospitality entrepreneurship class, the company is designed to foster happiness during these difficult times.
“We all came to the conclusion that we wanted to make something that brightens someone’s day and allows people to communicate safely with one another during the pandemic,” said Marianna Gutierrez, Vice President of the Brand Marketing Department. “From there came the idea of care packages because we thought this would be the best way to allow people to send gifts to each other and let them know that someone is thinking about them.”
Although the company has access to a team of advisors for help, the students ultimately make all decisions. Smile Senders is managed by multiple officers in charge of different company divisions, such as sales, supply chain, management, finance, and brand management.
Financial Manager Lexi Tracton said the company is currently student-funded.
“Our students have purchased stock in the company to help raise money to purchase our supplies and marketing materials. We even have had a few alumni and parents buy stock to support us.”
As a part of the Junior Achievement program, Smile Senders competes against various schools given the same task of creating and carrying out all aspects of a company. MSD’s team works to create a company they will present to a panel of judges. At the end of the year, they will liquidate and split the profit.
“Our goal is to do well in the Junior Achievement program, but at the same time, be able to connect people with our package and brighten their day,” said Director of Brand Management Annie Pretner. “Our company offers gift boxes that include high-quality items that people can send to friends or family.”
The care package the company offers is called a “Just Because” box. This gift includes an assortment of self-care items, snacks, and holiday-themed items for the season. As the company moves onward, the boxed items will be exchanged for the latest seasonal products.
“Our product is a feel-good item for both the sender and recipient and to further enforce that idea, a portion of our profits will be donated to Project Happiness, a global non-profit that creates community programs designed to teach young people how to have a better mindset and quality of life,” Tracton said.
The hospitality entrepreneurship team works primarily in class but conducts group meetings on Microsoft Teams when needed.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the seniors managing this company came together to prepare the care packages, abiding by social distancing guidelines. The company plans to spread happiness and reconnect people through these gifts, providing a safe and contactless way to show others they are remembered during these unprecedented times.
“Our long term goal is not only to do well in JA Competition but to also bring joy and happiness one box at a time,” President Jacob Foster said.
The company’s product is currently available for purchase on Etsy and can be found at the Parkland Farmer’s Market on January 3, February 21, March 7, and March 21.
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- Ivy Lam is a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This school year, she is a member of multiple honor societies and an executive officer for HOSA and Newspaper. Her favorite pastimes include reading, writing, and volunteering.
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