Earlier this year, the Honors Business and Entrepreneurship students in the Upper School launched O3 Apparel, an eco-fashion brand that makes clothing from 50% upcycled cotton and 50% recycled plastic. This brand considers the negative impacts of single-use plastic on the local coastline and was initiated along with mentors and conservationists from Gumbo Limbo.
O3 Apparel's year-long efforts paid off on April 15, 2020, when the JA Fellows leadership and entrepreneurship program for high school students announced O3 Apparel is a finalist in the JA Spark Tank competition. Saint Andrew’s joins six other southeast Florida schools in this finalist round.
The students who have worked on this project include Andrew Matsil ’20, Natasha Lomnitz ’20, Will Jordan ’20, Nicole Ged ’20, Sydney Sheinker ’20, Yancy Longin ’20, Rafael Handal ’20, Kristian Ruzicka ’21, and Stone Sacks ’20.
Over 200 business community leaders, school officials, teachers, parents, and students usually gather at the Spark Tank Finale to hear high school companies present their business plans and solutions to judges for a variety of prizes and awards, including JA Fellows Company of the Year. This year’s JA Spark Tank Finale will be unique, as it will be the first virtual Spark Tank Finale.
Achieving finalist status in the JA Spark Tank Finale has been a year-long journey for this group of entrepreneurial Scots. In January, students attended a Boca Raton City Council meeting to advocate for changes in local laws, and in April, the group continued their impactful work through their creation of a company commercial, submitted as part of the requirements for the JA competition.
In preparation for the JA competition, students have been involved in real-world experiences, learning what it is like to own and operate their own company. While many business competitions end with a presentation of a concept or business plan proposal, with the JA competition, students had the opportunity to create and launch a business from scratch.
It all started with the development of a business plan and eliciting a mentor relationship with Gumbo Limbo, and local conservationist, Cristina Hicks. Then students pitched early plans to entrepreneurs and business leaders in the community where they gained valuable insight and feedback. From there, students raised money from shareholders for start-up costs and found a distributor that aligned with their mission for eco-fashion and social impact. Additionally, students created their own logo using the Adobe Spark program, launched a marketing campaign and company website, negotiated prices, sold products, managed books, and budgeted using a bank account. Once they created an annual report of their earnings and they moved into a process of liquidating the company.
Honors Business and Entrepreneurship students are proud that they have a completely plastic-free product in O3 Apparel. Thanks to continued mentorship from Gumbo Limbo, they pivoted their design further and ensured that every aspect of their design was eco-friendly, from the fabric to water-based ink and sewing on their own tags with thread made by recycled paper. Students have decided to donate 10% of their proceeds to Gumbo Limbo and 10% to Junior Achievement.
The Scots O3 team will pitch their final work to a panel of JA judges on May 5, 2020. Saint Andrew’s School wishes its O3 Apparel team the best of luck in the finalist round. Go Scots!