VPA mini-monies help Enosburg Falls students launch essential oils business
2 minute read

Cold Hollow Career Center students Ellaina Murphy, Emily Noel and Destiny Benware are three of Enosburg Falls’ newest entrepreneurs. With the help of their teacher, Sarah Jo Marcotte, they each created a line of skin and home care products made with essential oils.

With $2,500 in funding, they designed their own products, marketed them to a local business owner, and are now selling them through the Barn Owl Bistro and Goods store in Berkshire.

Funding for the young entrepreneurs came from the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) who distributed a total of $65,000 in mini-monies to 13 Vermont schools/districts for a variety of special projects. The mini-monies program is a part of the Community Navigator Pilot Program (CNPP) and the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA). 

Funded (in part) through a grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the CNPP uses a “hub and spoke” model, with the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) as the hub, and VPA as one of nine spoke organizations that create collective impact throughout the state for targeted populations including BIPOC, rural, veterans, and women.

“There were 21 applications for the mini-monies program,” said Mike McRaith, Assistant Executive Director of the VPA. “The applications were submitted from all around the state and demonstrated incredible interest and commitment to innovation in our school communities.”

The Cold Hollow students tried out different scents, ingredients and combinations before bringing their initial products to the Barn Owl Bistro and Goods store owner. The owner reviewed their products and gave the students ideas for improvement. The students returned with second and third versions of their products, which were finally accepted and given free shelf space for display and sale for a limited time.

“With the funding we received, we were able to take a project and bring it life and it has taught me about owning and running a business. I also had the benefit of learning what it takes to create an authentic essential oil product and also how operations work in small businesses.”

-Emily Noel

“I want to thank you for allowing us access to funding our project. With your help, I was able to bring my prototype to life with professional materials and was able to market my product line to a local business, where it has been sold. Being able to grow an idea to a real product has been so impactful on me. I had to learn how to adjust my product from constructive feedback, learn patience throughout the process of iterations, and be willing to fail in order to succeed. These are just some examples of the things I have learned, and they’re all transferable skills that I will be able to take with me wherever I go.”

-Destiny Benware

“Thank you, VPA, for the incredible opportunity you have given me and my fellow classmates! The funding we received through your organization has allowed us to take the next steps in producing our products. Our class thought it was going to be just an assignment given by our incredible teacher Mrs. Marcotte, because of you we were able to make it a reality…the insight and experience I received from this project were life-changing for my next steps at Northern Vermont University.”

-Ellaina Murphy

This story is part of the Community Navigator Pilot Program. Learn more at vtsbdc.org/find-cnpp. 

Funding (in part) through a grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration.