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Young entrepreneurs show their stuff

Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2015 12:50 am

By: Dawn Schabbing

EFFINGHAM — The top entrepreneurs from Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota high schools converged with their products or services for the CEO National Trade Show Monday at the Thelma Keller Convention Center.

The young executives with high aspirations were on hand to deliver products and services that could earn them college money or potentially a hearty salary. These entrepreneurs have participated in the CEO Trade Program that originally began in Effingham in 2008.

Craig Lindvahl, executive director of Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship in Effingham, said it took a dedicated group of people to form the first CEO program.

“They spent two years of hard work setting up the frames for the CEO program. This is funded by investors, not the schools. Class never meets in a school, but always in a business. Everything is built around a real world experience. Also, it is built around ongoing, meaningful interactions with business people,” said Lindvahl.

“Starting this fall, we will have 28 programs in four states,” he added. “Midland considers the expansion of the CEO program an investment into the future.”

In all, 25 booths were on display with each young entrepreneur explaining their business plan, product or service.

Included were services, such as home pet sitting; private cheerleading lessons; mobile auto detailing; photography services; recipe books; and healthy scrubs for your skin. Several businessmen and women offered products or services that were technology related, such as a mobile phone case, leading-edge spotting scopes; replacement screens for iPads and more.

Layne Fowler, 18, of Washington, Ind., said her business plan called Faith Over Fear focuses on three main components of cheerleading — jumping, stunting and stretching. She wants cheerleading to be safe for those participating in the sport, so she will apply her seven years of experience to helping others.

The petite brunette said she’s always wanted to be a coach and has worked with several different coaches and private cheer instructors.

“It is so, so, so important that you do these components correctly. I will go to their gym to teach the techniques,” said Fowler, who can be contacted at

Sydney Thomas, 17, of Jacksonville, created Snippets of Bliss, which is a line of coconut oil and sugar scrubs for your skin. A percentage of sales goes to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and jars are decorated in seven different colors, representing different cancer awarenesses.

“My mom and I made some and I had given it as a gift and the woman just loved it. It’s really good for your skin. The sugar buffs your skin and coconut oil exfoliates your skin,” said Thomas. Scents available are caramel, coconut, pumpkin spice, lemon, peppermint, vanilla and vanilla coconut. Thomas said she wants to go to veterinary medical school and open a clinic of her own. She’s using the remainder of the proceeds from her sugar scrubs to help pay for college.

Cassandra J. Williams of Mt. Carmel High School created Tita Gina’s Kitchen Secret, a cook book of oriental recipes from the Williams’ family and her travel overseas. There are more than 40 recipes in the book, which is already in its second edition. Tasty dishes from Korea, Japanese, Vietnam and the Phillipines are included. She can be found on Facebook at Cassy Jennell Williams.

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