As a business involved in retail sales in a small local market, we are always striving to set ourselves apart from other retail businesses with unique offerings. We don't buy into the mass marketing of cheap, imported "tourist trinkets". We look for product that it is both made locally, within the context of our Arctic neighbors, and made by small businesses or individuals. We like fresh distinct items, especially when they are made from and represent northern resources and culture. Some of our product is manufactured by us, especially the items that incorporate local resources such as gold, ivory, mushrooms and the like. Some of our product is designed by us with the manufacturing outsourced. Simply put, we are entrepreneurs looking for product created by other entrepreneurs.
This winter we tried something new in cooperation with my sister-in-law, Deborah, who teaches entrepreneurship through NFTE at the high school level. NFTE, or the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, helps young people from low-income communities build skills and unlock their entrepreneurial creativity. We collaborated with Deborah and her class to produce button pins and bottle opener keychains with our designs. We provided some designs and agreed to buy the finished product at an agreed upon price that allowed Deborah to purchase the equipment necessary to manufacture the items, allowing the class to participate in the development and production. They gained some positive insight into building a business. Here are some of the finished items...
Recently, we connected with Erika Klaar, who was a 2009 finalist in the Alaska Business Plan Competition, an annual competition which provides a platform for
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