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Grade 11 student and SPARK's vice president of sales Carlee displays the popular SPARK box, a kit designed to help people de-stress.
March 30, 2017
Small Business Sparks Bigger Dreams
Eye masks, fuzzy socks and stress balls are a few of the items found in a Stress Panic Anxiety Relief Kit—SPARK, for short—a student-run business created through the Junior Achievement program. "The idea behind the kit is to help people de-stress, but also to raise awareness of the issue of self-care and mental wellness," says Carlee, a Grade 11 Branksome student and SPARK's vice president of sales.

Back in the fall, the SPARK team, a group of 15–20 students from high schools around Toronto, including Branksome Hall, began marketing the SPARK box. The team delegated roles, designed their own website and narrowed down their target market. "We wanted to help working moms," says Carlee. "We agreed that working moms had a lot to deal with and having a kit to help them relax would be important for their mental wellness."

Along with the fuzzy socks, a SPARK box also includes a candle, a coupon for Greenhouse Juice and self-care tips—all the things Carlee and her team feel will alleviate a mom's stress after a difficult day.

This is Carlee's second year in the Junior Achievement program; last year she helped develop a beverage container. "I discovered the program during an accounting class. I was really inspired by the idea of Junior Achievement and thought it was a unique way to get involved in business."

Prior to learning about Junior Achievement, however, Carlee had been interested in business, but wasn't sure how to get involved. What appealed to her with this program was that she could take a hands-on approach to all aspects of running a business. In her first year, Carlee was vice president of human resources and next year, she hopes to run for president.

The response to SPARK has been great. "Actually, a lot of students have been purchasing the box as a Mother's Day present," she adds.

With more than 100 boxes sold, so far, Carlee and her team introduced a smaller SPARK box for students. "We created a smaller version that was easier to carry." Sold in a reusable jar, as opposed to a box, the student version contains chocolates and fuzzy socks; all the necessary ingredients to help a student get through exam time.

Most importantly, though, the program has sparked an entrepreneurial spirit in Carlee who is already planning her own start up, as well as having her sights set on continuing to learn more about the business world after she graduates next year.

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