Entrepreneurial Spirit

This fall, students in Marlborough’s entrepreneurship class worked with two thriving women-owned businesses, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and SkinOwl, to help both businesses learn what their customers - Marlborough girls and others like them - need and want from the brands they support.


Marlborough’s entrepreneurship class is a collaborative, project-based course that challenges students to solve real problems that don't have answers found in a textbook. 

This fall, students in Marlborough’s entrepreneurship class worked with two thriving women-owned businesses, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and SkinOwl, to help both businesses learn what their customers - Marlborough girls and others like them - need and want from the brands they support.

By partnering with local businesses to identify and address real business issues, students learn about the product development cycle, deliver multiple pitch presentations, build a personal website, and design a capstone project that is not only meaningful to them, but that can also instigate positive social change and directly impact a real business’s bottom line.


FROM CUSTOMER TO CHEMIST

SkinOwl is a cruelty-free, fragrance-free, vegan skincare line with the mission to educate the public about skin while providing high quality products. Founder Annie Tevelin struggled with skin issues for years, visiting countless dermatologists and wasting money on products that didn’t work for her. Finally, she realized that the ingredients in the products she was using were what would make a difference for her.

With this experience and knowledge, Tevelin enrolled in a post-graduate program at UCLA and received a certificate in Cosmetic Chemistry. She learned about what is best for the skin, what works, and what keeps working, and used that knowledge to launch SkinOwl in 2011. Although the company’s typical target customers are women in their thirties, when Entrepreneurship Instructor Regina Rosi Mitchell called SkinOwl founder Annie Tevelin about a possible collaboration with students, Annie jumped at the chance. 

“I wanted to really dive inside the mind of a teenager and learn more about their relationship with cosmetics and personal care products. Was it the same as when I was a kid? Different? How so?” asked Annie. 

SkinOwl tasked Entrepreneurship students with putting together a teen skincare kit, including three items and a bag, based on student research about teen skincare needs, wants, and purchase habits.



“It was such a wonderful experience start to finish,” says Annie. “Based on the fact that so many of the students never considered the ingredients they put on their skin, it was a really cool learning experience for them. And once they dug into the research and began interviewing their friends and peers, it became an equally cool learning experience for us.”
After seeing all the student group presentations, Annie and her team have taken product suggestions from each student group to create an official SkinOwl Teenage Skincare Starter Kit including a face oil, face mist, body and facial bar, a lip balm, and a rose quartz roller to promote circulation and aura cleansing, all in a jute travel bag. The kit will be available for purchase in the spring at SkinOwl.com. 


I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams was founded 15 years ago by Jeni Britton Bauer, an art-school dropout who would go on to win a James Beard Award for her first ice cream cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and be recognized by Fast Company as one of the most creative people in business today.

Bauer started her first ice cream business when she was 22. She was obsessed with the idea of using ice cream to carry the scent of essential oils like an edible perfume. The business didn’t last, but her obsession with ice cream as a canvas for beautiful flavor did, and Bauer took the lessons she learned from that experience and dedicated her life to resetting the standard for how good American ice cream can be.

“When you fall down, no matter how tough it is, every time you get back up you are now a person who owns knowledge that other people don’t,” said Bauer. "You’re tougher now. That’s what failure does for you.”

Bauer and her team laid out their assignment to our students in a project brief which requested their help in developing something that ”would make YOU and YOUR PEERS fall madly in love with our ice cream, to the point where you were irrationally loyal and inspired, curious and hungry for more, #teamjenis for life and nothing else.”

There are a large number “artisan” ice cream shops in the Los Angeles market today, and although Jeni’s doesn’t market themselves that way, they realize that to the casual observer, they can all seem very similar. But, their brief went on to explain, “If you dig deeper...past the marketing gloss, beneath the surface—it becomes clear that our ice creams are very different... IF we can get people to pay attention long enough, to ask the right questions, to look for the right things (or to stop in for a taste).”



Therein lay the challenge for Marlborough’s budding entrepreneurs. In early December, students presented their ideas to Bauer and her team. Pitches ranged from community outreach initiatives to vegan marketing strategies to promotional videos, and everything in between. Impressed with the work of all the Marlborough students, the Jeni’s team is still considering what initiatives they might implement. 



After all the students presented, Bauer imparted some valuable advice to the group. “If you want to be an entrepreneur, study something that interests you. Entrepreneurs come from knowing something so well that they know what changes need to be made. All over science, all over art, all over the world there are ways to make things better for people. If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit, study the thing you love the most.”
 


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