STERLING -- A group of CEOs were able to show off what their businesses were offering Tuesday at the Sterling Marketplace.
The businesses were all launched as part of the Whiteside Area Career Center CEO program, with CEO in this case short for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities.
The trade show, normally held in the spring at Northland Mall, was delayed until July and moved to the new outdoor venue out of concern for COVID-19. It wraps up today from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.at the Marketplace, on West Second Street next to Twin City Farmers Market downtown.
Shoppers will find more than a dozen tables offering decor, accessories and a bite to eat.
The pandemic did force a change in plans for some of the students.
"Originally I was going to sell vinyl decals, and when the trade show got pushed back so much and I started working again this summer, I didn't have time to make those," said Kaitlin Hanrahan of Poppin' Pretzels.
"[WACC facilitator] Le [Hartman] suggested doing food, and these are one of my favorite snacks."
So last month she whipped up a batch of pretzels, experimenting with different toppings. At the trade show, she was offering pretzel sticks dipped in chocolate, white chocolate, Oreos and sprinkles. She sold out of the Oreo-dipped ones pretty quickly.
"I started out with 88 bags and I'm down to 20," she said. "I'm going to have to make more for [today]."
Dylan Winstead was selling something a bit different. He is the CEO of Life66, which adheres to the idea that it takes 66 days to form a new habit. He made a book that has 66 pages of inspirations designed to help the reader make dreams into reality and boost self-confidence.
"I read quite a bit of books, and I knew a lot of people who were really focused on this idea of expressing gratitude," he said. "I'm also really big on being physically, spiritually and mentally focused on my goals."
Meghan VanBuren, creator of Meggo's, sells jewelry and accessories she makes using epoxy resin.
One of her favorites is a pair of octagon hoops, something she said is not often seen.
"They're all handmade and very unique," she said. "[Epoxy resin] is very versatile in the style and colors you can make."
The show was something of an experiment to see how running her own business would go, and she's liking it so far. She plans to open an Etsy shop next.
"I learned a lot from CEO in how to have a business and handle everything that goes into it," she said.
Nate Ottens is selling a kit for people on the go. Nate's Care Kit includes five razors, a comb, toothpaste, toothbrush, cotton swabs, bandages and shaving cream, in a small bag that fits neatly into a glove compartment. He found the leather and polyester bags on Amazon.
"I'm always on the go," Nate said. "I go to school, and when I go over to a friend's house, I always seem to forget something. So having one of these in my car, or something at home so I can just pick it up and grab, helps.".
It took him a while to find the right price point.
It felt amazing to be able to show off the finished products, he said, especially because he bought all of the items he needed for the kits right before everything went on lock-down, and he wasn't sure there would even be a show.
"We've been working on this for quite some time," Nate said. "To be able to actually have the trade show is nice, just so we can show the community what we can do, to help the CEO program and help it grow."