rusticmeadowsstudents.jpgFour students at Black Hills State University raised over $800 for the American Cancer Society by starting their own business creating and selling custom air fresheners. 
As part of a Small Business Management class taught by BHSU Professor Jeffrey Wehrung, groups of students started microbusinesses during the semester and donated their profits to a charity. They received initial funding from the Moravec Entrepreneurial Activities Fund, and once the loan is paid back all proceeds can go to the students’ charity of choice. 
“The assignment was our group had to come up with a product or a service that we wanted to provide. We did the whole planning out of the business, like figuring out our break-even point and how much exactly our product was going to cost us,” said one of the students, Haylee Hauck. 
During the 2021 fall semester, students Haylee Hauck, Riley Donnelly, Josie Andersen, and Makenzie Guelff worked together to start a small business making and selling custom air fresheners called Rustic Meadows. Their group had the highest performance during  the semester. The original idea was pitched by Anderson who had made her own car air fresheners in the past. After repaying their initial loan, the group raised $881.94 that they gave to the American Cancer Society. 
“Makenzie and her family have been personally impacted by cancer, so we thought it would be something special if we donated to the American Cancer Society. To promote it, we had a ribbon car freshener, so people could order a certain color of cancer ribbon,” said Hauck. 
To market their business, the students created Instagram and Facebook pages and used Googlerusticairfreshenner.jpg forms for customers to order their custom air fresheners, allowing them to pick their own colors, shapes, and scents. The air fresheners, made from aroma beads, essential oils, and mica powder, were shaped in cookie cutters and heated in the oven to melt the beads together. The fragrance can last up to three months and will perform strongest during the summer. Each freshener is made to order, and the group made a total of 132 during the class. All four students are still involved in the business, and since the class ended, they have fulfilled dozens of additional orders. 
Hauck and Andersen said the project really helped them understand the challenges of running their own business.  
When asked what the biggest lesson they learned from the experience was, Hauck said, “Probably how much effort needs to be put into something like this. Last semester we set up days like Tuesday and Thursday for our meeting days, and we would spend around 5-6 hours on those days working on them.” 
Andersen said she realized the importance of being passionate about your product. “To make a business successful, it’s really important to be interested in what your product is,” she added. 
The Rustic Meadows group plans to continue the business even though the class project is complete. More information about their product can be found on their Facebook or Instagram pages
Guelff graduated with a degree in Accounting in December of 2021. Hauck is majoring in Business Management, Andersen in Biology, and Donnelly in Graphic Design.