We have four girls from Roseville Area High School who are all part of a Junior Achievement class, Melanie Soe, Colleen Vaj, Jennifer Vo, and Uviusia Vang. Together, they came up with a company called Empower Heels that aims to create shoes with adjustable heels at the click of a button. In this episode, they share the reason why they wanted to be part of Junior Academy. They also talk about the things that surprised them the most when they decided to start their own company. It’s never easy to put up your own, but starting young builds a great foundation for future entrepreneurial endeavors.
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Reach Heights In Empowering Heels With Melanie Soe, Colleen Vaj, Jennifer Vo, and Uviusia Vang
I am bringing you a special set of guests. As I had introduced in the last episode, I’m working on some changes for season two. I have some super special guests from Junior Achievement with me for this episode. A key part of our mission at Wonderly is giving back and encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs to pursue STEM and entrepreneurship. It’s hugely important to us as a company. That comes from my twenty-year career in technology and a love of building things. Speaking of our next generation, we have a treat for you.
Michelle Maryns is a previous guest and fellow Founder of We Sparkle is teaching a Junior Achievement class here in Minnesota. JAs volunteer-delivered kindergarten through twelfth-grade programs, foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy skills. They use experiential learning to inspire students to dream big and reach their potential. We have another company out of the Junior Achievement class that’s here with us. We have our first of three guests. Do you want to go ahead and introduce yourself, please? Tell us more about your grade and which school you’re in.
My name is Melanie Soe. I’m a sophomore at Roseville Area High School. I reside in Roseville.
Tell us why you joined Junior Achievement, Melanie.
What started it off was that I was trying to build up my resume for college. I was thinking that maybe Junior Achievement is a great opportunity for me. I felt like it was a great resume builder. I took it without even having a base foundation on what it was. In the first meeting, I was like, “I made the right choice.” The way this program works is that these teachers and students get to interact with each other to build off great, amazing ideas. I just loved it and I felt like it was a great opportunity.
Tell me the name of your company.
The name of our company is Empower Heels. What Empower Heels does is that we are creating this adjustable heel. It’s versatile. If you see the shoe, it is great for everybody. You can do anything you want to with this heel.
Tell us more about this heel. Elaborate on that a little bit.
What this adjustable heel does is that you can change its height to any height you want. There’s a limit to six inches because we don’t want to break your ankles. Of course, you continue towards any height you want. We took this inspiration based on an umbrella mechanism. When you click a button, you can change its height.
Why don’t you share 1 or 2 things that have surprised you along the way in this journey?
One thing that surprised us was that at first when we took this idea, we weren’t sure about it. We were all unclear but as we went further, our individual uniqueness came out for us. We were able to collaborate with each other and formed this wonderful idea and work towards it.Empower Heels aims to make people feel empowered, powerful, and proud to be wearing them. Click To Tweet
What’s been the hardest part of this entrepreneurial journey so far?
The hardest part will be that we do have an idea of how it’s supposed to look like, how it’s designed, and everything. Building it or making it was hard because we don’t have a great knowledge of its mechanism, but we do know the idea.
We have our second team member. Do you want to go ahead and introduce yourself?
My name is Uviusia.
Can you tell us more about the school you go to?
I also go to Roseville Area High School with Melanie.
Why did you join Junior Achievement?
I joined Junior Achievement because I’m unsure of what I want to do with my future. I thought, “Why don’t I try out business to see how that works out?” Although I’m not completely interested in it, it was an interesting experience.
Why don’t you share 1 or 2 things about this journey that have surprised you along the way?
I was surprised by the whole process of building a company and the thought process of everything, as well as having to figure out a company name.
We don’t want the entrepreneurial journey to be all drudgery. We like to have a little fun along the way. What’s been fun for you so far?
The most fun part was thinking of a company name because we had no restrictions on that. It could have been anything and we chose Empower Heels.
Can you tell me a little bit more about why you call it Empower Heels?
We call it Empower Heels because we want our heels to make people feel empowered, powerful, and proud to be wearing them.
We have our third team member. Can you please go ahead and introduce yourself? Tell us which school you go to as well.
My name is Colleen and I’m also from Roseville Area High School.
Why did you join Junior Achievement?
I joined because it’s a good opportunity for me and for my future. For my future, I was thinking of doing Korean cosmetology and starting my own business. I thought it’s a good start.
It’s a great way to learn the business foundations. It sets you up so much better for life as opposed to coming into it later and not having any idea. Why don’t you share 1 or 2 things that have surprised you along the way?
It surprised me by how hard it is just to get there. It takes a lot of steps. You have to work towards it.
What do you think has been the hardest thing?
It would be imagining it. It’s not hard to imagine it, just how you’re going to do it.
It’s how you’re actually going to bring it to life. As you’ve talked about, you’ve got this product that you’re going to need to manufacture, fit, test, and figure out how it works. That’s a whole set of information as to how do you manufacture a shoe with an adjustable height heel. It’s a fabulous idea. For our readers that are out there thinking, “These Junior Achievement people are awesome. I’d love to volunteer to help them and do some mentoring with them.” For everyone else, you know what time it is. It’s time to be Wonderly. Thank you for joining us.
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