This article originally appeared in the Journal Gazette.
When Michael Foster gets done with your old sneakers, they look like new. Those Air Jordans and Nikes you paid 140 bucks for? They’ll look like they’re right out of the box.
Tashayla Sutorius and Shanelle Tharp-Phillips, New Tech Academy at Wayne High School seniors, took advantage of Foster’s know-how to form a student business for Civic Studies, an economics-language arts course of study at New Tech. Sutorius helps rehab the shoes while Tharp-Phillips is in sales.
“They knew his talent, his skills, so they just grabbed him,” said Todd Roberts, the course’s co-lead teacher along with Beth McNeely at New Tech. Foster, who learned his skills from others in the area, is a Wayne High School senior.
The three business partners were part of the New Tech Academy Trade Show set up Wednesday at the City Exchange on Wayne Street in downtown Fort Wayne. Roberts said 18 student businesses, each with up to three owners, were chosen for the event.
Although the course has been given for four years, this year is the first time student-entrepreneurs were on display in the public, Roberts added.
Businesses covered topics like savory food, sweets, computer repair education and photography, and often capitalized on talents the students already have.
For instance, Foster, who plans to study at Indiana State University and teach middle school, is already in the same business outside school.
Sutorius, who says she has “a feel for shoes,” will be playing basketball at Trine University next fall. “I have all brothers,” said Sutorius as she worked on a white sneaker. “They’re all sneakerheads.”
Molly Ringswald, an 18-year-old, finds her small enterprise making sugar body scrubs and bath salts relaxing. Molly’s Natural Soothers were there on sale between $6 and $16.
“After a whole day at school and Subway, I just come home and work on these,” said Ringswald, standing in front of an array of all natural products with essential oils. The IPFW-bound senior had an enthusiastic sales partner in A.J. McGraw, who, attired in suit and tie, pulled over anyone he could to tout the all-natural products “with no artificial dyes or preservatives.”
There was no need to come with your wallet to enjoy watching Jonas Thatcher as he gave haircuts in his mobile barbershop. On this day, the cuts were free, but Thatcher does have a business plan.
He has already figured out how many haircuts he will have to perform at $10 a pop when he gets to the University of Indianapolis in the fall. The sports management/business major figured that would be 913 a year or 18 a week to pay for college tuition.
The 18-year-old entrepreneur of Clyde’s Clyps pulled out his cellphone for accuracy. “I have the numbers right here,” he said.