DPI: Marathon County student named “Young Entrepreneur of the year”

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Megan Olson; 414-477-8846

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MILWAUKEE (March XX, 2017) – Junior Achievement of Wisconsin (JA), the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and EY have awarded Marathon County native Laney Hughes with the “2017 Young Entrepreneur of the Year” for her clothing embroidery company, Shallocat, that she started at age 13 after discovering her passion for clothing design. She will be recognized at JA’s Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on May 1 at The Pfister Hotel and will be awarded a $2,000 scholarship.

The recipient of the Young Entrepreneur award, presented by EY, is selected from a joint committee from JA and DPI who evaluate each candidate on the following criteria: business success, growth potential, social involvement, ability to overcome challenges, strategic direction, innovation, personal integrity and leadership.

“Along with EY and DPI, Junior Achievement is thrilled to honor Laney Hughes as this year’s ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year,’” said Tim Greinert, president of Junior Achievement of Wisconsin. “Laney not only represents excellence in entrepreneurship, but she is a role model to all young people looking to start their own business.”

“Our partnership with Junior Achievement allows us to cultivate interest in entrepreneurship and celebrate the inspiring work taking place in our schools,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said. “I want to congratulate this year’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Laney Hughes, on her accomplishments to date and wish her success going forward.”

Hughes’ passion for her business and innovation as an entrepreneur set her above the other applicants for the “2017 Young Entrepreneur of the Year.” All of the designs featured on Shallocat clothing are unique and quirky images created by Hughes. She began selling her clothing on Etsy in March 2014, and quickly discovered how to use social media to grow her business. Since opening her store, Hughes has sold more than 1,000 clothing items to customers in 12 different countries.

“I mainly market my business through social media, which is a huge part of my target market of 12-24 year olds’ lives,” said Hughes. “I post pictures and interact with other accounts on Instagram and Twitter to direct traffic to my store and build a community around my brand. I also recruit social media brand sponsors who receive a free Shallocat item in exchange for posts on their account redirecting their followers to my store. This technique has allowed me to reach my target market through the influence of popular accounts who gel with my brand identity.”

Hughes’ extensive knowledge of her brand and customers provides her with an edge. She hopes to continue working on her collection schedule and adding more items to her online store. By monitoring trends through the past year, Hughes has found that the launch of a new collection increases web traffic, and in turn, sales. She also hopes to one day switch from a made-to-order system to an inventory system. Once she hits 200-300 monthly sales, Hughes will be able to outsource manufacturing, allowing her to spend more time managing the business and marketing.

In addition to her schooling and working as CEO of Shallocat, Hughes volunteers in a Young Entrepreneurs Academy class as a mentor and teaches Junior Achievement courses to local fifth graders.

Hughes’ Young Entrepreneur of the Year video application can be viewed on the JA website.

About The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® Awards Program
The Entrepreneur Of The Year® awards program was created and is produced by professional services firm EY, LLP. As the first award of its kind, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who are building and leading dynamic and growing businesses. The program honors entrepreneurs through regional, national and global award programs in over 140 cities and 50 countries.

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization and may refer to one or more of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.

About the Department of Public Instruction (DPI)

The Department of Public Instruction is the state agency that advances public education and libraries in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is advancing education reforms to ensure every child graduates ready for further education and the workplace. http://dpi.wi.gov

About Junior Achievement of Wisconsin

Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, Inc. is dedicated to educating students about work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. The organization prepares young people for the real world, showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, create jobs which make their communities more robust, and apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Over 168,000 students in the state of Wisconsin put these lessons into action every year and learn the value of contributing to their communities.

Thousands of students across the state, through programs like JA Be Entrepreneurial, are introduced to the essential components of a practical business plan and challenged to start an entrepreneurial venture while still in high school. For more information, please visit http://Wisconsin.ja.org