WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – De’Myiah Thompsen had some experience helping out at her grandmother’s business, but now she and another White Plains student have dreamed up a business of their own that won first place in an entrepreneurship program at the White Plains Youth Bureau.
As the first place winners of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship Biz Camp competition, Thompsen, 15, and Asia Lyn-Cook, 14, won $150 to put towards their business, Real Pretty Hair. Inspired by her mother, Lyn-Cook brought to the table the idea of importing virgin hair from India and selling it as extensions.
“We chose that because we both have experience with hair and wearing extensions,” she said. “And we both were kind of interested in it and something we knew we would like doing and not something we have to do.”
Prior to this year, Lyn-Cook attended Our Lady Mt. Carmel in Elmsford. In September, she begins ninth grade at Good Counsel in White Plains, which is exploring selling a portion of its 16-acre property.
“It was a pretty good experience because I met new people and I had a fun time learning new stuff about business that I was never really used to,” she said.
Both students researched their chosen industry to create a business model and market analysis, and then presented their work to a panel of professionals.
“There were four men on the panel (and) I didn’t think they would be interested in hair,” Lyn-Cook said. “It was good that they actually liked it. Then we answered the questions and gave them a lot of information.”
Both students said they took away a lot of new skills and even some life lessons.
“A lesson that I learned during this six week program was basically to never give up,” said Thompsen, who was the student body vice president at Rochambeau High School last year. “And, even if you fail, to keep striving for what you want because, even though one thing may not work, that doesn’t mean something else won’t.”
The second place winners were White Plains High School students Lauren Reid and Sasha Marshall, who earned a $100 prize for their manufacturing and retail business, L&S bracelets.
Thompsen and Lyn-Cook will represent White Plains in the NFTE Westchester County/Fairfield, Conn. regional competition set for next spring. In the meantime, the Youth Bureau will provide both with coaches to polish their presentation and prepare them for the competition.