SKOWHEGAN — When Lauren Enright was in grade school, she was heavily involved in the duct-tape fad, creating wallets and bringing them to school to sell to her teachers and classmates.

Now a senior at Skowhegan Area High School, Enright is the owner and creator of Lauren’s Lovely Lathers and makes and sells shower gels, soaps, shampoo bars, soap bars, shampoo and sugar scrubs.

Skowhegan Area High School senior Lauren Enright, 18, right, was influenced by teacher Darcy Fitzmaurice, left, during the class “Start Your Own Business,” taught by Fitzmaurice at Skowhegan High. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

Enright, whose soap-making business launched in the fall of 2018, credits a course taught at Skowhegan Area High School for showing her the skills, applications and practice of business ownership.

The course, Start Your Own Business, is taught by Darcy Fitzmaurice and is offered to students in grades 10 through 12 one semester a year as an elective. Fitzmaurice said that students who take the course are expected to create a business plan for a business that they are interested in.

“It could be a hobby, it could be something that they are feeling like they might like to start for a business,” Fitzmaurice said. “From there, they go through the process of coming up with a plan.”

This includes creating a logo, a slogan, business cards, company letterheads, brochures, a marketing analysis, products and services that the potential business may offer, projected income and startup funds. Additionally, they are expected to create newspaper advertisements and promotional letterheads.

“They have to think about how they would advertise and promote their business,” Fitzmaurice said. “They also learn about sole proprietorship, and they also have to figure out how many employees they might start out with. I try to have them think on a smaller scale.”

Though these projects are only plans, Fitzmaurice said that some students have pursued their own businesses after graduation.

Skowhegan Area High School senior Lauren Enright, 18, developed her own line of bath soaps. She holds some of her line sold at The Bankery in downtown Skowhegan. Enright was influenced by teacher Darcy Fitzmaurice during the class “Start Your Own Business,” taught by Fitzmaurice at Skowhegan High. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

When Enright took the course her sophomore year, she pitched a photography business. As the semester wound down, she decided to take part in the Junior Entrepreneur Challenge, where she placed third.

Tracie Travers, the Jobs for Maine Graduates director of workforce development, said that the Junior Entrepreneur Challenge was inspired by the Entrepreneur Challenge, backed by Main Street Skowhegan and Skowhegan Savings Bank.

“Skowhegan Savings Bank was already doing the adult Entrepreneur Challenge, so we met with the committee to see how we could make it work for students,” Travers said.

The schools that participated in the challenge were Madison Area Memorial High School, Skowhegan Area High School  and Mt. Blue High School in Farmington.

Students who participated were expected to create a business on the basis of a community needs assessment to see what kind of businesses would thrive and would help within the school and surrounding community, Travers said. Students created a business plan, financial plan, marketing analysis, marketing plan and a creative visual.

Additionally, business partners in the area met with the students to critique and polish their presentations.

“Each school had their own individual challenges, and the winners went to Skowhegan Savings Bank and presented it in front of the same people that (oversee) the adult entrepreneur challenge,” Travers said.

Travers said that the challenge has not been done again, but revival of the program is something that can be done in the future.

“We will bring it back,” Travers said.

When the challenge ended in March, Enright did not plan to pursue the photography business as she knew that there were several local photographers in the area.

“I’ve always enjoyed crafting. I got the idea (to make soaps) from Pinterest, while I was looking for cool things to do. When I came across making soaps, I ordered some supplies and decided to try it out, and it went well,” Enright said.

Enright says that she didn’t initially plan to sell her product, but because the mold she used to create the soaps made 10 bars, she had nine to get rid of.

Enright makes the soaps by using melt-and-pour soap bases, fragrances and oils.

“There are two ways to make soaps,” she said. “There’s a more technical way to make them with lye, but I didn’t want to start with doing that. I really want to start doing it the more formal way soon, but I’m still kind of getting there.”

Enright has a corner of her bedroom designated to storing her products and makes the soaps in her parents’ kitchen in Skowhegan. She gets the bottles for her shower gels from Bramble Berry, a company that sells soap-making kits.

She says that she has applied many of the skills learned through Fitzmaurice’s course to Lauren’s Lovely Lathers and will continue to create more elements of business planning as her business grows larger.

Skowhegan Area High School senior Lauren Enright, 18, left, was influenced by teacher Darcy Fitzmaurice, right, during the class “Start Your Own Business,” taught by Fitzmaurice at Skowhegan High. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

Skowhegan Area High School Principal Bruce Mochamer said that this kind of real-life application is what helps many students thrive.

“This is what we want because that’s where school becomes real for them,” Mochamer said. “It’s what makes them want to come to school and want to learn because it becomes a part of their reality.”

Because the course is an elective, the majority of students who are in the class are choosing to be there because it interests them, he said.

“It makes it more exciting for them to come to school,” Mochamer said. “You start to see their attendance and enthusiasm go up. It becomes not just school; it becomes something more than that.”

Mochamer said that classes like Fitzmaurice’s are very similar to the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program, where students have the opportunity to practice skills while they’re still in the course.

“There’s an opportunity to try and learn under a safety net, practice and keep moving forward,” Mochamer said. “You’re learning, but you’re learning a real-life application that you can take on.”

Enright, who is graduating in the spring, said that she plans to continue making and selling her soaps when she starts college in the fall at the University of Maine at Augusta. Her products are sold at the Bankery, Maine Grains and Ginny’s Natural Corner.

“It’s really nice that we offer courses that are authentic and kids can take and apply to their lives,” Fitzmaurice said. “We’re not just checking a (requirement) box to get it done. They take it because they want to, and some of these kids then go on and start a business.”


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