Young entrepreneurs in Copperas Cove prepping now for OSCAR’s Market
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Less than a dozen children and teenagers sat around a conference table in the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation meeting room for the first of many workshops to help prepare young entrepreneurs for this year’s OSCAR’s Market.
OSCAR’s Market was created last year to educate and inspire students and local youth to pursue entrepreneurship. These young entrepreneurs are developing their own brand, creating their own product or service, building a marketing strategy, display and then selling their item at a one-day market in Ogletree Gap on Saturday, April 15, for a low cost of $25 per booth.
The young entrepreneurs will be judged on their brand and how well their product/service is marketed and displayed on the day of the market. The top three business owners with the highest gross sales are eligible for a scholarship of $300 and under, and the top entrepreneurs will also compete for the chance to win a booth space at Rabbit Fest in May. There are only 40 spaces available for vendors at this year’s Rabbit Fest, and a regular vendor booth costs $175.
A total of four workshops are currently planned, with the possibility of more being added. The next workshop will be Saturday, January 28, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Copperas Cove EDC building located at 207 S. 3rd St, Ste 200.
During the first workshop, Diane Drussell, with the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation, led the children through discussions of what an entrepreneur is and examples of entrepreneurs (from Walt Disney to J.K. Rowling and beyond).
Currently, the youngest is six years old, while the oldest is 20 years old.
Crystal Owens brought her three children, Chase Greenfield (14), Jubilee Owens (12) and Gideon Owens (10) to the first workshop. Jubilee and Gideon plan to make and sell soaps, while Chase has a business partner who he buys and resells shoes with, using social media.
“I'm really proud of all three of them for putting themselves out there because it was scary for me and my husband as adults to do it, so them just diving in, I’m really proud of them,” Owens said.
Owens and her husband own their own soap-making business called 2E Apothecary, which they started for their son, Gideon, who has ADHD and is on the Autism Spectrum. Gideon also has a high IQ, which is where the name of the business comes from, because he is considered “twice exceptional.”
“The goal is to teach everybody who's on the spectrum different job skills, because it can be harder for them when they become adults to find employment, lasting employment,” Owens said. “If you look at the unemployment rate, it's like 90 percent, something crazy high, for those on the spectrum and so that's why the idea was for, and so because we started it, and it was really for him, they wanted to take that portion over which was really our dream anyway.”
Owens said that Jubilee and Gideon have been very involved in their soap business, with the two children having made a lot of the products that Owens and her husband took to a market a couple weeks ago. That market turned out to be one of the best pop-up market days that they have had, Owens said.
“At first, I didn't know if they were hearing me or watching what we're doing or what our goal was, but I feel like we're being seen with that, and so for them to take that and want to go with that is really neat, because my goal is with Gideon and his special needs, I want him to feel established here in Cove,” Owens said. “I want him to know his town, the people and everything, and I feel like if he puts himself out there and gets to know them, then this will serve him very well. Maybe one day, we’ll have a brick and mortar for them.”
Michelle Rocha, who is the manager at Navy Federal Credit Union in Copperas Cove and on the board for the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, shared that the name OSCAR’s Market is an acronym for her father, who passed away three years ago.
“He always taught me and my two older sisters to go for what we want, doesn’t matter what age we are,” Rocha told the room full of young, budding entrepreneurs. “You want to do it, do it, and that you don’t have any obstacles, and if you do, you learn how to get over those obstacles.”
OSCAR’s Market stands for Operation Student Community Advocate Readiness.
“This is a class and a market just meant for kids your age, younger and older,” Rocha added.
“We are going to give them the tools to help them become successful in their business because everybody knows knowledge is power. The more you know, the more you grow,” Rocha said.
To register for the next workshop or to sign up for OSCAR’s Market, parents can visit https://www.eventbrite.com/o/copperas-cove-chamber-of-commerce-19762964095.