WHS seniors plant the seed for entrepreneurship

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Credit: STEMS Wayland Instagram

Yearning for a taste of what real entrepreneurs experience, Wayland High School seniors Cassie McGonagle, Kathleen Tobin and Mia Mazokopos ventured out and started their very own flower farming business. “We thought it would be a good opportunity to really dive into this business and learn from good hands on experience,” Tobin said.

Taylor McGuire

Wanting to utilize their final year of high school to its greatest potential, seniors Cassie McGonagle, Mia Mazokopos and Kathleen Tobin took the initiative to found their own flower farming business. What once started as a loose idea thrown out there by advisor Lisa Nickerson, has now grown into a profitable business that has taught the girls valuable lessons along the way.

“We [had] all been home [because of] COVID-19, and I was talking to them one day about entrepreneurship,” Nickerson said.

Already working with a public relations marketing agency, Nickerson was able to assist the girls in their first steps and throughout the process of owning a business.

“I was starting a flower farm, and I said ‘how about we make this your flower farm instead and turn this into something that could teach entrepreneurship and mentorship,’” Nickerson said. “[Mazokopos, McGonagle and Tobin] all got very excited about it.”

The girls decided to name their business STEMS, standing for Sensational Teens for Entrepreneurial Mentorship of Students. Currently, there are thousands of tulip bulbs growing in trenches dug by the co-founders which will be ready to be sold in March.

“We thought it would be a good opportunity to really dive into the business and learn from good hands-on experience,” Tobin said.

We thought it would be a good opportunity to really dive into the business and learn from good hands on experience. ”

— Kathleen Tobin

Although this process is fun and exciting, it is a large commitment of time and energy to learn the ropes of owning and operating a business.

“We’ve been meeting every week for about two months now, at least,” Nickerson said. “[We’ve been planning and learning everything there is to know about running a business from budgeting and accounting to inventory and ordering to marketing, branding and PR.”

Mazokopos, McGonagle, Nickerson and Tobin hope that the end result is something that can be carried out after they graduate and so on.

“The goal is to develop a program that could be replicated by other high school students under the STEMS branding to learn entrepreneurism,” Nickerson said.

Not only do they hope the brand continues on after they graduate, but they hope it interests teens from other towns, thus growing their brand even more.

“The idea is to say they went to college and didn’t want to do it anymore, the next group becomes the managers and the mentors of the next students, and then it builds upon itself,” Nickerson said. “This is STEMS Wayland, but what if there was a STEMS Natick and a STEMS Weston? Other groups could do this under that STEMS brand, and that’s the eventual goal: to create a program that mentors students.”

A large part of growing any brand is obtaining a following of people who support and want to watch your brand succeed. STEMS co-founders chose to use Instagram as their platform, using the username @stemswayland.

“Right now, we are very focused on our Instagram and how we’re going to build a following,” McGonagle said.

For Tobin, the skills and newfound abilities she has acquired throughout the formation of STEMS will be greatly beneficial as she believes she would one day like to pursue a career in a field related to business.

“I want to go into advertising and marketing,” Tobin said.

Besides the fact that they are learning important life lessons throughout all of this, there is also an aspect of beauty that keeps the co-founders motivated to further their success.

“It’s just so beautiful, we all love flowers,” Mazokopos said.