Hello! I’m Erin, a creative middle school, art teacher who had the fortunate opportunity to share my real-life entrepreneurial skills with tenacious, young social-entrepreneurs via Real World Scholars. Although I've been teaching for 15 years, my understanding of the intricacies of entrepreneurship came to me when I took a four year hiatus from teaching to raise my two young boys. I thrive in high-paced, high-energy situations, so it was natural when I developed a small business while I was home with my children.
My handbag business originated from a singular idea to create modern handbags and pouches with inspirational messages printed on the inner lining. I thrive learning new things, so I bought a sewing machine, gathered tons of inspiration from existing handbag and pouch companies, and scoured the internet for tutorials to create what I envisioned.
I found a company to print my designs, taught myself photoshop to create my designs, and began the exciting and lengthy process of developing my product. I learned countless technical skills and went through the design thinking process hundreds of times.
As I developed my business, I began to experience the countless waves of developing an idea: discovery, ideating, prototyping, and ultimately to delivery and refining. Whether it was in marketing, product development, web design, pricing my product, or bookkeeping, I continuously researched and then adjusted my business according to any best practices I could find combined with my own experiences.
I learned to develop the narrative of my business, writing content for social media as well as creating imagery that followed the story of my brand. In all, I intimately went through the process I ask my students to go through when creating and developing their student-run business.
Now, I use my knowledge to help students develop their own business. I show them how to create high-quality product photography, using tools like a DIY Lightbox. I help them understand how we must use models as inspiration to develop our own unique point of view. I am able to anticipate which pitfalls will occur and where students will need extra support.
Mostly, I understand the actual length of time it takes to develop a well-rounded business and how to use perseverance and curiosity as drivers to reach entrepreneurial goals. It sure has been amazing and a gift to be able to use all the resources Real World Scholars offers to allow me to guide young, socially-conscious individuals in the direction of creating businesses which focus on the greater good. It has by far been the best teaching experience of my life.
Erin Bland is a middle school teacher at Vista Innovation and Design Academy in Vista, CA. Follow her on Twitter at @ErinBland6.