The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies recently launched Makerspace, a program for people on how to develop a business and learn life skills. Pictured in the Makerspace area of the Farmington shop are some members of the Center for Entrepreneurial Students team, from left, Kaylynn Greenman, Director Bonita Lehigh, Sammy Spencer, Layla DeCastro, Jessica Savage and Sara Taylor. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Bonita Lehigh’s latest vision for the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies is Makerspace, a place where people of all ages can learn how to start their own business, develop prototypes and create products to sell, the center’s communications coordinator, Sara Taylor, said.

Lehigh wants Makerspace to serve as “a hub for entrepreneurship,” one of the many “moving parts” in the center’s mission.

A former Mt. Blue High School business teacher, Lehigh invested her time and resources into the center to nurture young entrepreneurs in the greater Franklin County community. In 2020, a retail cooperative store opened at 156 Main St. where local youth had the opportunity to run their own businesses.

Makerspace has a slew of machines to help entrepreneurs in training make their products. They include:

The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies’ new Makerspace in Farmington includes machines like a Glowforge and a 3-D printer, pictured printing the beginnings of an octopus. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

•A glowforge, a laser cutter that can cut through, score or engrave 3,000 different materials, including wood, acrylic, metal and cardboard

• A Cricut, a “silhouette cutting machine” that can make vinyl stickers, postcards, print on items like T-shirts, etc.


• A laminator

• A button maker

• A 3-D printer, with which one youngster, Layla, is creating a line of plastic building blocks (similar to LEGOs) called “La La Land”

Down the line, Lehigh hopes to start a carpentry shop in the basement to offer workshops.

Beyond learning how to create products, Taylor said the center will teach students other entrepreneurial skills such as “how to budget and invest their money into making more products so that they can grow their own little micro business.”

Makerspace and the center as a whole will foster the development of more small businesses in Farmington and Franklin County. But Lehigh has other goals in mind.


“I think (Makerspace can achieve) everything from socialization, to creativity, to an opportunity to earn money doing what you enjoy doing,” Lehigh said.

Taylor added that creating and then selling a person’s products directly in the gift shop will be “validating” for participants.

“There’s something totally empowering about using your own creativity and seeing other people (find) value in it,” Taylor said.

Lehigh is optimistic that while they create the center/Makerspace “playbook (and) structures … as they go,” it will also hopefully “serve as a template for other communities to follow that have similar needs.”

The issues to address in Franklin County, including building tiny homes for homeless youth, include poverty, unemployment, homelessness, intergenerational substance abuse, food insecurity, particularly among younger generations. They’ve garnered nearly $100,000 in grants and donations for their Making Home Possible initiative.

Since Makerspace was launched, Lehigh already has success stories. Sophie Haley-Vigue, 16, began developing a jewelry brand when the store first opened in mid-2020. In December, she earned over $900 from selling her goods.


Her accomplishments are more than monetary, Lehigh said.

Haley-Vigue has “picked up job skills” and “learned to advocate for herself.” In fact, Haley-Vigue learned how to negotiate, a skill she recently used when she wanted more hours working in the store during the slower, post-holiday season.

“She’s empowered,” Lehigh said.

“It’s enjoyable to learn here. I’m not scared to ask questions or ask for help. It’s a very open-minded space,” said 18-year-old Kaylynn Greenman, the center’s bookkeeper in training. “You’re automatically welcomed. You have space to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. And you’re not discouraged …  I’m excited to come here every day.”

It’s clear how much passion, time and energy has been dedicated to the center and Makerspace. Lehigh got visibly emotional while Greenman talked about how she enjoyed learning through the center.

“It’s nice to see,” Lehigh said, tearing up. “It’s not perfect yet, but it’s there.”


“We’re setting the foundation,” Greenman added.

The center is enrolling students of all ages in the Makerspace program every other Tuesday. There is training for students to learn how to use different machines safely and successfully. Afterward, they can use the tools on their own to develop their brands. The center will offer participants a $25 gift card to buy materials in the shop to create their first set of goods to sell.

By offering participants a kickstart with the gift cards, Taylor said they will initially earn 100% of the profits. Makerspace students will continue to earn 100% of the profits as long as they volunteer at the center eight hours a month.

Those interested can learn more at or their Facebook page,

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