MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - A group of students at Georgia College and State University is learning what it takes to run a business while giving back to the community at the same time. They are selling handmade tennis shoes from Peru and leaving their footprint with every pair of high top sneakers sold.
"Their uniqueness calls to anybody," Jimmy Gardner, an ENACTUS member, said.
It's a call these future business leaders are answering. The GCSU entrepreneurial club ENACTUS got the idea to sell handmade Peruvian shoes last fall.
"We're helping the small business in Peru because we're allowing her to expand her business internationally," Katie McGuire, an ENACTUS member, said.
But it is not as easy as it sounds. The students experienced several challenges, including the language barrier, shipping costs, and selling the product to students on campus. They learned the hard way what it takes to run a business.
"How much are you going to price it for? Who are your customers? How are you going to brand it?," Renee Fontenot, the ENACTUS faculty adviser, said. "They had to go find a broker who would take possession of the shoes, take them through customs, of course that added cost to it and then they had to ship them to us here in Milledgeville."
"It was definitely a learning experience," McGuire said. "Now that we've gone through that once, I feel like the next time we order, it's going to get easier and easier."
They are branding the shoes Suyana, which means hope in Quechua, the language for that region in South America. Fontenot says it is hope that is driving these students to success.
"They thought this both represents hope for the woman and the associates who are making them as well as hope for their own project," Fontenot said.
The money raised goes toward other club projects which help fund ASPIRE. It is a Baldwin County program to help at risk children prepare for kindergarten by purchasing school uniforms and supplies.
"Our main objective right now is taking steps to create sustainability within our own business as well," Gardner said. "And we'd like to see the shoes stay around."
And give back to the community, one step at a time.
The high tops cost $40 per pair. They are handmade in Peru using traditional prints and fabrics.
The students are currently working on a website to expand their business.