Each year at Grove City College there is a class called E-Commerce, where students create online businesses that donate their profits to local nonprofits. In this class, teams of students learn how to manage an online business in a hands-on learning experience. This week I sat down with Amanda Mayer, team member of E-Commerce team “Knot Hangin’,” who gave me some insight into her experience over the course of this semester.
I began by asking, “So, what have you learned from E-Commerce?”
Amanda thought for a moment and then replied, “Before this class I had no experience in marketing, finance, and… I’ve learned so much within a few short weeks. I’ve had to balance checkbooks, produce items (goods), and market actual products to be sold. It’s no longer your safe, pretend theory of a world. You’re actually making things that people will use.”
Curious as to what kind of goods Knot Hangin’ produced, I asked, “What’s an example of some of the products you make in Knot Hangin’?”
“We make plant hangers, keychains, coasters, and small wall decals, all out of macramé,” Amanda answered. Macramé coasters is a new concept to me, but what a cute idea!”
“Very cool! So you’re making the macramé yourself?” I though to myself – students learn how to make macramé in this class too? That’s pretty cool.
“Yes, everything is made by my team,” Amanda chuckled, reflecting back on recent nights of putting together the team’s orders.
“Have you worked with macramé before?”
“Oh, no! I didn’t know how to make anything before this,” Amanda exclaimed, which means that she picked up making macramé in a matter of weeks before her products began to sell. How amazing!
“Oh, so who came up with the idea for selling macramé?” I questioned.
Amanda answered while pulling out her computer to show me some of their products, “Bailey Mantzel. I knew her through Young Life, and when I heard her idea I really fell in love with the concept and the excitement of being on her team.” There is nothing better than a project with friends, and Amanda has clearly enjoyed working with her friend Bailey.
As I scrolled through the beautiful webpage and glanced over the macramé products, I asked, “What’s your favorite thing about your business?”
Amanda laughed, “My favorite thing? That it’s real. It’s not like an idea or a theory, we are actually putting it into practice. I love the team, they’re a bunch of goofballs. I love the products that we make because they are actually good products and we give all of our profits to charity.”
“Yeah! Can you tell me a bit about the charity you donate to?” I asked, excited to hear about the impact Knot Hangin’ was making in our community.
“Absolutely. The charity we donate to is the Arc of Mercer County,” Amanda started, pulling up their webpage to give me a better look. She explained, “Their mission is to provide for adults with disabilities. I have family members who are adults with disabilities and personally I felt at a loss… I didn’t know how to help them but through this I found a way to encourage my family and encourage my community.”
So not only did the class teach her all these amazing life skills, but she was able to make an impact in a subject she truly cared about.
Wrapping up, I asked my final question, “Would you recommend E-Commerce to incoming students?”
Without missing a beat, Amanda replied, “Yes. I would recommend E-Commerce to anyone. If you’re an Engineer, you have a mindset and solutions that would benefit the team. If you’re in Marketing, it gives you experience in reaching out and boosting your product. Computer Science – we need people to make a good website, sometimes even from scratch. Any major, I would recommend this.”
You can find out more about Grove City College’s student businesses at gccentrepreneurship.com. Each year, the E-Commerce class has a handful of online businesses that start up and sell their products to donate to a variety of charities and organizations. It is a good place to see what Grove City students are creating and find a sense for the causes that are important to the community.