Program to teach sales skills to teens

July 15, 2018

Jessica Bonner wants to be a model and poet when she’s older.

The 17-year-old North Side High School student has her eye on attending Purdue Fort Wayne to help achieve that dream and envisions hitting a bigger city to realize it.

But Bonner doesn’t just dream. A couple of years ago, she became a certified farmer after tackling an eight-week program on the city’s south side offered by the community-building organization I Am Garvey and the Urban League.

Now she is part of another I Am Garvey program developed by local businessman Ty Simmons. Bonner attended the inaugural meeting Saturday at the Euell A. Wilson Center on Oxford Street to become a young entrepreneur.

It Starts With Me Tutoring, Mentoring and Entrepreneurial Program is based on one from the University of Kansas and a nationally based entrepreneurial teaching corporation.

Bonner and 21 other students 12 to 18 will develop their sales skills by selling a small range of necessity and novelty items that include 4 a tube; natural soaps including charcoal, peppermint, mango, shea butter and cocoa butter for 1; and incense holders for 15.

Students will be given a starter sales kit valued at $100.

Simmons has secured two locations for the sales at Tygeron’s Printing and Embroidery on Oxford Street and Link’s Wonderland on East Creighton Avenue. The students will sell on Saturdays, the first one scheduled for July 29 starting at 10 a.m.

I Am Garvey will set up a link on its website that will allow customers to buy from designated entrepreneurs. Customers will be able to order the products to be shipped, which will add a fee, Simmons said.

While the costs of the products are competitive, Simmons says the idea behind the program is to offer products with a charitable aspect. Half of the students’ profits will be their money to keep while the other half will set up a “dream” account, currently destined for Wells Fargo Bank.

Simmons, 44, said the entrepreneurial program has raised 67 percent of its 10,000 check to help fund the effort, although he will remain a silent partner, according to a company spokesman.

I Am Garvey’s goal is to have a sales corps of 50 students. The group is looking to provide mentorships with former police officers, former firefighters, clergy, business owners and veterans.

I Am Garvey is named after Marcus Garvey, a black charismatic leader and orator for the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements. He died in 1940.

For more information, email iamgarvey2016@gmail.com.


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