In December 2021, EntreEd and the Appalachian Regional Commission partnered
to bring the ESTEAM Pitch Competition to middle- and high-school students across Appalachia. The pitch competition provided students the opportunity to ignite their entrepreneurial mindset and engage in meaningful entrepreneurship experiences within their local community. Senior student, Emilee Metcalf of Clinton High School in Anderson County, TN took home first place with her online custom clothing business, Patch Works.
Emilee has taken about seven business classes so far, and that’s how she decided to participate in the ESTEAM Pitch Competition. She wanted to create a business that involved her interests in sewing and fashion and came up with Patch Works. Patch Works is a drop-ship business that provides a website where customers can design custom clothing items and are guided step by step through the process. After designing, they are matched to a tailor in their area by zip code. Once they select a tailor to support, they can order the clothing item that they designed, and it will be shipped to their door. Emilee noted that the benefits of ordering clothing from this process include the freedom to design your own unique items and higher-quality clothing. She said, “My favorite part was getting to make a mock-up website to present during the live pitch. I got to make a lot of like the clip art and stuff. I drew it by hand. That was a really fun thing to get to make a website and to really see how it would be if you got to do that in real life.”
For Emilee, the ESTEAM Pitch Competition was also an opportunity to list on her college resume. She has a running list of business ideas and thought it was a fun simulation to be able to bring one of those to life. Emilee said, “Because of the competition, it has made me start thinking about starting my own business one day instead of just doing marketing or something like that. I really like the idea of starting a business. It’s because of the competition that I even thought about doing it.”
EntreEd recognizes the vital contribution educators made in supporting the competition. Emilee’s educator mentor, Christa Frost said, “This is really exciting for me to see our students take ideas and put a business plan together and see successes from it…Emilee is an outstanding student, and she is so creative. There are so many different directions she can go in life. I know she’s going to be successful.” She also shared some advice for integrating entrepreneurship in the classroom. “Just go for it. You can’t fail. Anything that you do with this is going to be giving your students an opportunity. It’s really their job to take the information that you’re giving and run with it, do their research, and pull things together. I see the teacher as more of a coach. Don’t be worried about the time or the end product, but guide your students through, give them the opportunity and help them get excited about it.”
Emilee is planning to major in business management in college. She said, “I definitely think that any business class I’ve taken and this whole experience mean a little bit more to me because I know that it’s related to the career that I want to go into. and it just feels really useful and like I’m really getting a lot of information and tips and things that will help me in real life. That’s something that I value a lot is like what can I do now that will help me later, and I feel like this competition and all the business classes I’ve taken have really helped me to be prepared.” We wish Emilee the best of luck in her future endeavors and can’t wait to see where her entrepreneurial path leads.
To hear the full story, listen to Emilee’s full episode of the EntreEd Talk Podcast on iTunes and Spotify and watch her pitch. The ESTEAM Pitch Competition was created as an initiative of EntreEd’s Fostering Self ESTEAM in Appalachia’s Emerging Workforce project, funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The project helps middle and high school programs in a seven-state region infuse Entrepreneurship into academic classrooms with a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) initiatives. To learn more about the project and the ESTEAM Pitch Competition, contact Amber Ravenscroft, ESTEAM Project Director, at email@example.com.