LEWISTON — Young business hopefuls pitched their proposals to local investors Tuesday evening at the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

Each student, vying for start-up cash toward his or her venture, presented a detailed business plan to potential investors, including short- and long-term goals, target market and marketing plans, as well as sales and cost projections.

“I’m so proud of these young adults,” said Deborah Carroll of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce. “They’ve stepped up to the plate.”

Carroll, who co-taught the business class with Patti Gray of the Maine Department of Labor’s Lewiston CareerCenter and Chamber of Commerce President Chip Morrison, said the program was designed to help students through every phase of business development.

Lecturers were brought in from the business community to discuss all facets of business, including Web design and logo branding, Carroll said.

“They’ve all worked really hard,” she said. “I’m looking forward to 15 years down the road when I can say, ‘I knew them when.'”

Morrison said it was heartwarming to see so many people in the room, that it was “a testimony to the program.” He added, “I’ve always said, ‘You do what you believe in, and I believe in this.'”

Leavitt Area High School senior Gabrielle Mason has planned her own cosmetic line, Babylou Cosmetics. Mason said the name came from a nickname her grandfather had given her when she was young.

Mason said, “Ever since I was little, I always wanted to own my own business.” After her presentation, the elated Mason said, “I want to do it again!”

Mason’s mentor, Diane Dubois of Cassiel’s Salon & Spa in Lewiston said the two had been role-playing in preparation for the presentation, going over her spreadsheets and marketing plan.

“They’ve been a big help,” Mason said of the mentors. “There’s no way I could have done this myself. They believe in us.”

Mason received a $900 grant to launch Babylou Cosmetics.

Sahro’Uji Hassan, a junior at Lewiston High School, spoke of how children used to have to simply wear whatever their mothers gave them. After coming to a new land, however, they were surrounded by many new fashions.

Hassan’s Fashionuji business puts a fashionable twist on traditional Muslim dresses. “We’re not importing clothes,” Hassan said of her local competition. “We’re making homemade clothes.”

Hassan led her presentation with four models wearing her colorful creations. “She’s been dreaming about these designs since she was a little girl,” said Hassan’s mentor, Deb Lewis, visual arts director at Tree Street Youth Center.

Lewis said Hassan had many obstacles to making her dreams come true. For one thing, she couldn’t sew. As soon as Lewis started tutoring Hassan in basic sewing skills, however, she took off on her own.

Also, Lewis said, there were no patterns to work from. She said Hassan simply started with a piece of cloth and and went from there.

According to Lewis, when the two went to the Women Around the World show in Portland, Hassan brought a friend in one of her creations. Hassan put her on the stage to take a picture, when the pair suddenly drew a crowd. To the astonishment of Lewis, Hassan had already printed business cards to hand out.

With a strong local client base already built, Hassan was awarded $1,100 to help get Fashionuji off the ground.

Sambusa Stop is the dream of a pair of seniors at Lewiston High School — Ayman Mohamed from Djibouti and Mahamed Sheikh from Somalia.

The plan is to bring ethnic street food to Lewiston. Indeed, the days of the hot dog may be numbered if Mohamed and Sheikh move in with their triangular treats filled with onions, peppers and ground beef. Their samples won over the panel, earning them $1,100 toward their sambusa cart.

ZoZo’s Gluten Free Goodies impressed the crowd with gluten-free brownies that actually tasted like brownies. As Merriconeag Waldorf School senior Zoe Oswald said, “Gluten-free can also mean taste-free.”

Oswald, still determined to grow her business, dropped out of the running for start-up cash, because she plans to attend college after school.

Colleen Clarke, a home-schooled senior from Greene, outlined her ambitious plan for Wonderful Wedding Planning. Clarke meticulously showed her marketing plan to the panel, detailing every step from training planners for local markets to selling the national franchise to investors several years down the road.

“We plan to work out the bugs here in Maine, Clarke said,” before franchising nationwide. She said she always wanted to get involved in a planning business, and weddings seemed to be a perfect fit. Clarke was awarded $700 in start-up money.

Sam Delaware, a 15-year-old sophomore at Pine Tree Academy, outlined his Sam Delaware Photography business, with an emphasis on a photojournalistic style and natural lighting.

Delaware, who displayed such talent and business savvy at a young age, was not only awarded $1,400 for his business, but was chosen to represent the chamber at the national level in Rochester, N.Y.

Morrison congratulated the group, warning them that they will see many setbacks in their careers — but that they had already shown the perseverance to make it in business.

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