Two local business women are offering young people a chance to learn about entrepreneurship and embracing their passions.
Keri Lehman, owner of Savvy Boheme handcrafted skin care, and Andrea Calvery, owner of AO Photography in Ovilla and Vertue Gym in Midlothian, started Social Entrepreneurship Internship (SEI) to give help pass on the knowledge they had gained in their own businesses, Lehman said. The first four-week internship included three young people and a pop-up Savvy Boheme store in Ovilla.
For four weeks, Amanda Polmore, Haven Loeung and Donovan Loeung started up and staffed the small shop on Main Street in Ovilla. They opened in the morning, interacted with customers, used social media to spread the word and got dirty keeping the place looking like new, Haven said.
“At first, I was very nervous because I didn't even know if I wanted to go into entrepreneurship,” said Haven who is studying business at Tarrant County Community College District (TCCCD) before transferring to UTA for her bachelor's. “But I just thought, I can do this, learn to relate to people, find out if this is something I want to do.”
The program started out as an idea, a way to encourage and train entrepreneurs in the city of Midlothian, Lehman said. She is working with the developers of the Farmstead at Midlothian, a 31-acre project driven by the nonprofit 360grassroots, Ash Grove, Midlothian city and community leaders and many business sponsors to create a sustainable and community-oriented retail and learning space with unique retail, restaurants and artisan shops, as well as a wedding and event venue, a bed and breakfast and a health spa.
Entrepreneurship is something the woman want to teach in order to encourage others and minister to their community, Calvery said.
“I believe that each individual is born with very distinct passions, talents and a purpose. As a child of God and a lover of people, it is always desperate on my heart to help people find their way. If what I've come through, fought for, cried for, had faith for, lost for, sacrificed for, dreamed for, lived for, begged for, learned for, been mocked for, been hated for, been cheered for, suffered for, rejoiced for – if these things can further and empower the 'would be' entrepreneurs and dreamers, my fellow brothers and sisters, then by all means it is not only my joy but my duty and privilege to teach them,” Calvery said.
While this first internship is an experiment and will be improved upon for the next SEI in the fall, many things are going right with this program, Lehman said.
“They take very good care of the customers. They got a two-hour training in all our products and then I said, okay, let's test you out. They were telling me about the products and which ones were their favorites,” she said. “As a pop-up shop, the goal is to earn enough to keep it going. The first week they did and the second week.”
Part of the challenge is attracting customers to the new location despite the road work tearing up the street in front of the shop, Polmore said.
“Slowly, people are realizing we are there,” Polmore said. “We have been keeping up with social media, connecting with people who already follow us. Local people have stopped by to poke their head in and see who we are and what we are doing.”
While she has worked with for Lehman at her Midlothian shop for about a year, working independently at the Ovilla shop has been a different experience, she said.
“Being there by myself, I have been able to hone my selling. If you have a passion for something, it is easy to sell it. If comes naturally,” she explained.
After the internship ends on Aug. 13, Calvery and Lehman will determine if they want to leave the store open or use a different project for the next group. The curriculum if flexible as the two women have been drawn it up, sometimes literally, as they move through the program and recognize what lessons they need to teach, Lehman said.
“As we got into it, we realized they have to know what they want to do before they can go out and get it,” she explained.
Finding a passion and an economical way to peruse it is the key to success, Polmore said. She graduated UTA in 2014.
“I went to school and did what I had to do to get through. I wasn't a bad student, and I did what they asked, but they didn't teach you to find your passion,” she said.
Through working with Lehman and the internship, she has realized she wants to combine her passions of writing and skin care to help spread awareness and acceptance of the things proper skin care can do for people, she said.
To help all three interns reach that point, one of the lessons they had the interns do was build a vision board, looking at all the areas they are passionate about, how they can apply those passions to find a purpose and reach their vision, Lehman said.
“When this is over, they will have something very specific to go out and get,” she said.
That is what makes this program applicable to anyone, said Donovan, a second-year student at TCCCD focusing on exercise science. They are not just learning how to sell skin care, but how to direct their efforts and education into the future.
“This can help anyone. A lot of people our age don't know what they are doing; they say they do but they change their mind,” he said. “We each have our personal goals. We take time out of the day to think about what I want to do and how do I get there.”
This focus also allows them to find ways to be go-givers as well as giving them the skills to be go-getters, Lehman said. The three interns were picked for their optimism and desire to give back to their families and communities, she said.
Part of learning how to give back is learning about community business partnerships as Lehman and Cavelry work to expand their partnership with Family Legacy, provide food and education for orphans Zambia, Lehman said. Currently, a part of each Savvy Boheme purchase helps support the three children has decided to support with her business's profits. But they are currently talking with a local Midlothian man about new opportunities to help the Family Legacy mission even more, she said, and the interns are getting involved with the process.
While the program is more than Haven and Donovan thought when they agreed to participate, it has been a good summer job and learning experience, they said, and encouraged others to consider future SEI programs.
“I would say it is not all about the skin care. It is knowledge you would never learn in school,” Haven said.
Contact Bethany Kurtz at 469-517-1450 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BethanyKurtzMidloMirror or on Twitter @bethmidlomirror.