HorizonsMar 29, 2021

— updated Mar 29, 2021

Hatching Great Ideas

Horizons Juniors launch online marketplace

(Ellie Spangler)

Think Etsy or Facebook marketplace — the online venues for buying, selling, and bartering — add some Arty Party — the entrepreneurial project in which 9th-grade Horizons students make and sell crafts to support philanthropic causes — and mix in a bit of Klein Arts Center mojo for good measure. The result?

Hatchery, a new Horizons initiative offering juniors the opportunity to hone their business savvy by selling handmade crafts created by MHS students. The products are sold through Hatchery’s website, hatchery492.square.site.

The inaugural cohort — Emma Adelson, Isa Bretthauer, Zoe Brown, Rebecca Dontje, Montgomery Erickson, Emily Gerstein, Emily Lombardi, Hadear Rizq, and Sienna Trask — is advised by Studio Art Teacher Ellie Spangler, who helped bring Arty Party to life in collaboration with Hyun Jung Jung ’13 and Arielle Sebestyen ’12.

“I call it ‘Arty Party 2.0,’ because students are creating their own ideas and figuring out the viability of each product, but Hatchery takes it to another level,” Ms. Spangler explains. “We also do two collections, so the students get experience with a winter sale, then again in the spring, and they are a lot more empowered for the second round.”

Hatchery began its work in the fall with market research, interviewing students to see what products might sell in an online marketplace. Each Hatchery student proposed a product, which the group evaluated, and, if approved, produced. The winter collection featured bead necklaces, hand warmers, safety pin earrings, and dyed clothing.

For the spring marketplace, Hatchery solicited product ideas from student-makers at MHS, then mentored the creators through production, marketing, and getting their products onto Hatchery’s online marketplace. Twenty-five percent of the sale’s proceeds went to support GLSEN.

Hatchery appealed to Emma because she could not fit an art class into her schedule this year. “It was an option for a creative break during the week and to be in the Klein,” she notes. “I also really liked Arty Party as a freshman, and Hatchery seemed similar to that, which made it pretty appealing.”

Along the way, Emma adds, students learned how to create a website and met virtually with alums who run their own businesses, and she enjoyed learning about the challenges of bringing a business to life. “Our group was also pretty close, so it was a fun environment to be in,” she says. “It was a way to incorporate art and creativity with entrepreneurship and learning how to launch a small business.”

Similarly, Rebecca signed on because she wanted to be part of a hands-on project that allowed her to create and learn how to sell the items she makes. “My favorite part was the afternoons we spent together talking and listening to music in Klein while creating and watching our ideas and products come to life, because we all felt very connected,” says Rebecca, who also gained an appreciation for being flexible as an idea evolves.

Hatchery, she adds, is a site that allows students to take charge. “You get to learn about the process of starting a business from the ground up,” she says. “And, you get to be part of every step, from generating ideas, ordering supplies, making products, designing a website, to distributing what you make.”

That was all part of the plan, adds Ms. Spangler, who herself harbors a startup streak. “The idea is that students are building tools for potential entrepreneurial endeavors,” she says. “Starting a business is something that can be as small or as big as you want it to be. You just need to see it be done to know how to do it.”