Fashion Tribe

Students put biz plans to test

June 11th, 2015
PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comShayna Nichols of Pololia Glasswork received the top award of $1,500 for her jewelry business ideas in the UH Retail Business Plan contest. She posed with a promo check from UH professor Youngjin Bahng, left, who organized the contest, and Erin Kinney of Our Kaka'ako, which helped sponsor the competition.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Shayna Nichols of Pololia Glasswork received the top award of $1,500 for her jewelry business ideas in the UH Retail Business Plan contest. She posed with a promo check from UH professor Youngjin Bahng, left, who organized the contest, and Erin Kinney of Our Kaka'ako, which helped sponsor the competition.

Young entrepreneurs went through a "Shark Tank" experience during the 2015 University of Hawaii Retail Business Plan Contest finale that took place at the UH-Manoa Campus Center.

The May 12 competition, hosted by the University of Hawaii at Manoa Fashion Design and Merchandising Program, had 18 business hopefuls offer up business plans for clothing lines, boutiques, food, jewelry design, and other fashion/retail-oriented business, and four individuals were selected to face a panel of judges for the opportunity to win cash prizes—sponsored by Our Kaka'ako and PACE (Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship)—toward making their goals come true. The contest is also supported by Retail Merchant of Hawai'i and the Hawai'i Small Business Development Center.

Winner Shayna Nichols is a glass artist who said she enrolled in the retail class to gain experience in marketing her wares. She originally tried selling her glass pendants alone, but learned people didn't know what to do with them. Sales picked up when she strung them on necklaces.

Winner Shayna Nichols is a glass artist who said she enrolled in the retail class to gain experience in marketing her wares. She originally tried selling her glass pendants alone, but learned people didn't know what to do with them. Sales picked up when she strung them on necklaces.

UH professor Youngjin Bahng organized the contest to help students in her FDM 437 Small Business Start-Up course use knowledge gleaned to develop a retail business plan.

Students stood before judges to offer up details of their business plans, then answer questions on fine details of financing, production, staffing and marketing strategies, giving them a taste of what it will be like when they one day seek help from bankers and investors.

Victoria Prince faced judges to answer followup questions after her presentation on her White Elephant budget clothing retail shop concept.

Victoria Prince faced judges to answer followup questions after her presentation on her White Elephant budget clothing retail shop concept.

The judges were Lori Hiramatsu, senior consultant at the Hawai'i Small Business Development Center; Sheri Sakamoto, President of the Retail Merchants Association of Hawai'i; Susan Yamada, Executive Director of PACE; and Erin Kinney, Marketing Manager of Our Kaka`ako.

After the presentations, there was a break for refreshments and the announcement of winners.

The first prize of $1,500 went to Pololia Glasswork, jewelry designs by Shayna Nichols, Arts & Science. Second prize ($700) went to White Elephant, a budget retail clothing concept by Victoria Prince, FDM, and third prize ($500) went to Common Goods, a street-chic clothing line by Christopher Ching, FDM.

Nichols, center, with fellow winners Victoria Prince and Chris Ching.

Nichols, center, with fellow winners Victoria Prince and Chris Ching.

It was great to catch up with designer Chris Ching, left, who graduated from Honolulu Community College's Fashion Technology program in 2010. He'd been working in New York prior to coming home to further his education. The prize money will help him put his Common Goods threads, as seen on model Von Kaanaana, into production. Prices will be about $190 for the shirt, $180 for the jacket and $150 for the pant.

It was great to catch up with designer Chris Ching, who graduated from Honolulu Community College's Fashion Technology program in 2010. He'd been working in New York prior to coming home to further his education. The prize money will help him put his Common Goods threads, as seen on model Von Kaanaana, into production. Prices will be about $190 for the shirt, $180 for the jacket and $150 for the pant.

The event also raises awareness of the importance of young entrepreneurs' contributions to the local retail industry, which is the largest single generator of state general excise tax revenue, and employs nearly 20 percent of the workforce.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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