Students produce stellar business plans, and win awards, in retail contest

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Youngjin Bahng, (808) 956-2237
Assistant Professor, Family and Consumer Sciences
Frederika Bain, (808) 956-3092
Writer/editor, CTAHR Office of Communication Services
Posted: May 18, 2015

Contest winners Victoria Price, Shayna Nichols and Christopher Ching.
Contest winners Victoria Price, Shayna Nichols and Christopher Ching.
Group photo at Retail Business Plan Contest awards ceremony.
Group photo at Retail Business Plan Contest awards ceremony.

The UH Mānoa Fashion Design and Merchandising (FDM) program in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) hosted the judging and awards ceremony of the 2015 UH Retail Business Plan Contest, co-sponsored by Our Kaka‘ako and Shidler College of Business’s Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE).

Twelve teams, made up of students in Assistant Professor Youngjin Bahng’s FDM 437 Small Business Start-Up class, competed to create original retail business plans, including rationale, projected customer base, location, suppliers and detailed budget. The businesses included restaurants, space rentals, foods, apparel, beachwear, jewelry and even a mobile barbershop.

On Tuesday, May 12, 2015, the three finalists, predominantly apparel and jewelry businesses, presented their retail business plans to four judges: Erin Kinney, marketing manager of Our Kaka‘ako; Susan Yamada, executive director of PACE; Sheri Sakamoto, president of Retail Merchants of Hawaiʻi; and Lori Hiramatsu, senior consultant of the Hawai‘i Small Business Development Center.

The three student winners received prizes of $1,500, $700 and $500.

First-place winner Shayna Brianne Nichols received $1,500 for her plan for a retail store called Pololia Glassworks, which will specialize in borosilicate glass jewelry and art. The art student plans to create all pieces in a glass-blowing studio in the shop as customers watch. The pieces will focus on Hawaiian themes and creatures, including the pololia or jellyfish.

Second-place winner Victoria Price, a FDM student, received $700 for her business plan for a women’s clothing boutique called White Elephant, which will offer eclectic, stylish and unique clothing at a price point suitable for college-aged women on a limited budget.

Third-place winner Christopher Ching, also in FDM, received $500 for his business plan for a men’s and women’s apparel and accessories boutique, Common Goods. The boutique will offer customers basic, timeless pieces in an environment where they can meet to discuss creative endeavors.

The winners are serious about their business plans, preparing to start up their businesses right after graduation.

Dr. Bahng explained that she came up with the idea of a retail business plan contest because she believes it gives students valuable experience: They can interact with professionals, and they are motivated to make their business plans a reality. As the retail industry is the single largest generator of general excise tax revenue in Hawai‘i and hires almost 20% of the workforce, many students are interested in working for the retail industry and/or starting their own businesses.

Dr. Bahng plans to make the contest an annual event, open to all UH students. “We hope to grow this retail business plan contest, gaining more sponsorships and support from our community, so that more students can benefit from it. We would love to see participants in this contest become successful business owners and come back as our community leaders and supporters in the near future," she said.

(Full caption for group photo, from left) CTAHR Associate Dean Charles Kinoshita, Susan Yamada of PACE, Professor Youngjin Bahng, Sheri Sakamoto of the Retail Merchants of Hawaiʻi, Lori Hiramatsu of the Hawaiʻi Small Business Development Center, third-place winner Christopher Ching, Erin Kinney of Our Ka'kaako, second-place winner Victoria Prince, first-place winner Shayna Nichols and CTAHR Dean Maria Gallo.