Meet Emma Rogers and Sarah Jacobs, finalists in the Carroll Biz Challenge
By Jacob deNobel and Carroll County Times
Apr 20, 2015 | 10:55 PM
Century High School students Rogers and Jacobs pitch SPAtaneous mobile spa.
Like any good business owners, Emma Rogers and Sarah Jacobs of Century High School refused to accept failure on their first venture, choosing instead to go back to the drawing board to perfect their idea.
In last year's Carroll County Public School Biz Challenge, the two pitched SPAtaneous, a mobile spa that would bring beauty services straight to the home. The idea was rejected, but Wendy Cain, the students' business teacher, told them to revise the pitch and enter it again this year.
After a year of tweaking the concept, Rogers and Jacobs have refocused SPAtaneous from an individual spa experience to a party platform where spa services can be brought to weddings or other large gatherings, forming a spa-based catering service. After making these changes, Rogers and Jacobs have made it to the finalists stage of the Biz Challenge.
Finalists from each county school, including the Carroll County Career and Tech Center, will compete on April 29 at the live finale for a $5,000 college scholarship. The Biz Challenge Advisory Board also selected an additional finalist chosen, from among all applicants, to compete.
SPAtaneous would consist of a recreational vehicle stocked with spa materials for mobile pampering. The mobile spa also would be brought to party and wedding venues, as well as hospitals and senior centers to provide services for those who might not be able to go to nonmobile facilities. Jacobs said it is the mobility that is the vital component to the business, providing a luxury experience for people without them having to leave their homes.
"I think especially busy people can't go to a stationary salon. They don't go to your needs, and you have to take time out of your day to go there," Jacobs said. "We can go to you at any time that is convenient. We'll have more flexible hours to work whenever you need us to."
Cain said she believes their idea got very close to taking home the grand prize last year, and she feels the two have a good chance again this year.
For a wedding, Rogers said the business would offer hair and makeup service for the bride and members of the bridal party, as well as services such as manicures and massages. She said their price point would come in close to that of a stationary salon, with an added cost for gas. In addition to providing spa services at various functions, SPAtaneous would also handle specialty spa parties for groups of people who want to experience a full range of spa services at home.
Rogers said putting the proposal together has been a learning experience, exposing the partners to a world of business expenses and challenges.
"There's a lot of stuff to keep track of, and I didn't really know a lot of it," Rogers said. "I've been learning a lot about the financial aspects, from start up costs and planning everything out. I really enjoy thinking about the marketing, and social media is becoming really important so we're going to start using that."
Rogers and Jacobs' fathers were entrepreneurs who provided some assistance with their business knowledge, Rogers said.
"We've been talking to our parents a lot about the finances, because they've had to do it themselves. It's been very helpful," Rogers said. "Sarah's dad just laid out all of this information, and told us how to set aside cash reserves and build off of that."
Looking at their parents' lives, Rogers and Jacobs both said being an entrepreneur appeals to them, and opening their own business is definitely something they're looking into after school.
"Being an entrepreneur would be really cool," Rogers said. "Both of our parents have been pretty successful, and they have a lot of independence, which is really important to me."
Cain said Roghers and Jacobs have been working with business people from the community on their pitch and with a public speaking teacher to finalize their speech for the judges. Rogers said she wanted people to acknowledge the importance of spa care both physically and emotionally.
"I think our services are really important in terms of taking care of yourself. I don't think a lot of people think spas are important, but it is for your self-confidence and well being overall," Rogers said. "You're more productive if you feel good about yourself."