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Students showcase businesses at national CEO trade show

Emma Speers said she relishes the time she spent coloring with her grandmother when she was a child.

Speers wants all children to experience that same feeling. So, as a CEO graduate in the Effingham County program, she created Whimsical We Coloring Book. The book allows both an adult and child to color together, as it is designed for skills of both ages and is laid out in a face-to-face manner.

“Adult coloring books are really big right now and children’s coloring has always been big and will continue to be big. I wanted to jump on the trend of adult coloring books, but also have something that is really special,” said Speers.

The book is made out of fairy tale-themed coloring pages that she hired someone else to draw with an easy level and a more difficult, detailed level for adults.

The 19-year-old was among 39 vendors selling or promoting their businesses at the second annual Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship’s CEO National Trade Show at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham Monday.

Some of the businesses that lined the convention center featured monogram stickers, horse show clothing design, interior design, crafts, outdoor apparel, custom cell phone cases and personalized kitchen prep items.

Collin Hecht, 18, of Effingham County CEO, created a leather accessory business called SUBTL Leathers. The leather comes from California and is manufactured in Maine. Hecht designed the leather wallet he was selling during the trade show and promoted the idea for Father’s Day.

“Last summer I was looking to make a wallet for myself, but I found leather is a hard thing to work with,” said Hecht. “I designed one on paper and sent it out to manufacturers. It is still my design but they are doing the manufacturing.”

Hecht also teamed up with fellow CEO student Mikayla Winters of Dieterich High School. She is the owner of Darling Dudi, a business that handcrafts personalized jewelry. Using his leather idea and her personalization, the two created bracelets.

Olivia Hickey, 18, of Robinson, uses pallets and wine bottles and turns them into handmade crafts, decorations and furniture for her business, Pallet Re “Wined”.

“I found some ideas on Pinterest and used some old pallets and empty wine bottles to make things,” said Hickey.

Her booth included furniture, wall hangings, tiki bottles and other decorative items. Hickey is part of Crawford County CEO, which finished its third year.

“We are excited to see the program progress,” said Crawford County CEO facilitator John Ireland. “We have more students who want to get in the class than we have seats available.”

Ireland said Hickey uses home pallets from businesses that no longer have use for them and she takes suggestions for gift ideas from customers. She does a lot of custom work, as well.

The National CEO Trade Show is the compilation of all the trade shows across the network. Each class chooses its top one or two businesses to exhibit at the national show. Conni Cash, office manager for Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship, said the program, which started in Effingham, has grown to include 30 classes across three states: Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota. This fall Colorado will join the CEO network.

“Now the goal is to see how many CEO programs we can have across the nation,” said Cash.

Source: Effingham Daily News
By: Dawn Schabbing at 

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