Over a four-month period, the JA Company program teaches high school students how to organize and operate a real business. Volunteers from the local business community work with students to launch and run a small enterprise giving students real-world skills and experience not found in a textbook.
Some Companies, such as Ducks & Daisies, a Fall 2022 JA Company out of Earl of March Secondary School continue to thrive long after the program ends. What keeps the students involved, motivated and wanting to keep the company going vary from company to company, and not every company decides to stay open once the program ends (in fact, less than 5% of companies stay open!), but their journeys, processes, and the lessons they learn along the way are truly inspiring. Keep reading to hear the exciting updates from the Ducks & Daisies team: Muhan, Ren Ran, Jennifer, Hannah, Anya, Lily, Dayaniya, Alison, Melina, Ava, Emily, and Adrien.
Sales Events and Restructuring
Since our last update, Ducks & Daisies has been busy with a series of sales events. We spent the early months of the year restructuring our company, teaching everyone how to crochet, and diligently stocking up on our handmade products. In May, we hosted our first sales event since the JA program, perfectly timed around Mother’s Day. Additionally, we partnered with our school’s Relay for Life team to create a large, fluffy duck for a raffle. Half of the profits from this endeavor were generously donated to cancer research.
Product Expansion and Collaborations
Our busy summer was dedicated to building up our inventory even further. During this time, we received a unique collaboration opportunity from another JA Company, Lindo Cards. We are thrilled to share that we are in the process of planning a special line of bundles featuring cards and our beloved ducks and flowers, set to launch tentatively in December.
Reformulated Prices and New Products
In response to feedback from various audiences, we decided to reformulate our pricing strategy. We now offer discounted prices for Earl of March students and their friends, and slightly higher prices for sales outside of school. This pricing system aims to address concerns that our products were both too high and too low in cost. In response to growing demand, we have also added big, fluffy ducks to our product roster, and they have been exceptionally well-received.
Successful Sales Events and New Experiences
Taking advantage of the stock we built up over the summer, we hosted a sales day last week. We ventured outside of school to Kowloon, a local Asian supermarket, which was a new experience for us. This endeavor required a lot of calls and visits to various stores, presenting a bit of a learning curve and initial trepidation.
Our sales events have been progressively more successful, and with each one, we learn valuable lessons. We are also discovering the importance of saving up to invest in equipment, such as an organized money box for our sales days. Furthermore, the start of the new school year has brought a fresh wave of customers, including enthusiastic grade 7s and 9s who can’t resist our adorable products. Selling outside of school has provided us with equally rewarding experiences, as even those not intending to buy products have shown their support and appreciation.
Company Structure and Change in Donations Focus
Ducks & Daisies still maintains the core team of twelve members that have been with us since the end of the JA Company program cycle. We continue to meet weekly. One significant change is that every member has learned how to crochet, making our production process more efficient.
In addition to our core activities, we are looking to re-launch a website, which will focus more on providing information about our mission and less on direct sales.
Back in September, we made a substantial change by shifting our donation focus from mental health to the environment. We believe this aligns better with our team’s passion and mission, especially considering that our ducks are stuffed with recycled pillows. We are also actively encouraging people to donate old or unused pillows to us, which we can then sanitize and recycle into our adorable ducks. Interestingly, this shift coincided perfectly with this year’s JA Company theme.
A Bright Future Ahead
Ducks & Daisies is thriving, and we intend to keep the company going for as long as we can. There’s still so much to learn and achieve together.
All of us at JA Ottawa, delivered by ONFE, look forward to all the exciting developments that the future holds for Ducks & Daisies. Congratulations to the entire team and thank you for sharing your inspirational journey with us!