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International market shows students how to run their own businesses
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World Language Academy sixth-grader Brayan Cruz, seated, keeps busy as the banker of the school’s marketplace.

It took some time for best friends Courtney Homer, Jillian Clark and Melena Appling to decide what business idea to pursue.

“Well, we’re all girls and we didn’t want to compromise because we’re best friends,” Melena said. “We wanted to do something together.”

After debating about opening a dance studio or craft store, they decided to get into the beauty industry.

Con Estilo, or Stylish in English, opened as part of the Comunidad Internacional de Empresas, or the International Business Community, a bazaar of 23 businesses created by World Language Academy sixth-grade students.

The students created their own business plans, and developed materials and marketing strategies.

The businesses opened Monday in the market to the rest of the school students, exchanging goods for the school’s currency of Toro Dollars.

“The premise of it all is, ‘How can I impact my community?’” teacher Marla Lear said. “‘How does my business help my community?’ That was the overarching, essential question that the students focused on throughout the different academic components (and) career tech components.”

The event was designed to combine what students have learned about various career pathways with what they’re learning in their regular classes.

Sponsors Hayes Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Chow Baby, Lupita’s Flower Shop, Leo Veiga of State Farm Insurance and real estate agent Al Lopez also appeared alongside students to tie together real-life experiences.

“They’ve been studying and learning about different careers,” World Language Academy Principal David Moody said. “For them to see the relevance in what they’re learning in the classroom, connected to life, it’s huge and that’s what we’re looking for is relevance and engagement amongst our kids. This showcase certainly captured both.”

The owners of Con Estilo said it helps the economy by helping individuals become more attractive to employers.

“So we made these bows and we wanted to get creative and impact the economy by kind of hiring people so the economy boosts up,” Courtney said.

“By making them look good for resumes or interviews,” Melena added.

“Yeah, and then making them look good so they feel good, and then if they feel good they do better,” Courtney said. Along with selling hair bows, Con Estillo provided nail, hair and makeup services.

By noon Monday, the salon business had earned around $350 in Toro Dollars. While by all accounts it was a success, the three didn’t think they’d continue down that career path.

“Knowing how hard it is, probably not,” Melena said. “But it’s really fun.”

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