Behind the Charms

Mar 27, 2023

In a celebration among the team, the Charm Department has been able to succeed thanks to the collaboration of UM. (Maria Odio)

With the goal of selling 1,000 units, the Charm Dept. had faced a major roadblock in their pursuit of success. Opening on March 3, their Croc Charms had become a hit with students, but the demand was simply too high for their current production rate to keep up with Ms. Garcia. Feeling the pressure of their customers’ expectations, the Charm Dept. turned to outside help to expand their reach beyond Gables.

Enter Vanessa Valle, Vice President of Education at JA of Greater Miami. As a liaison for the corporation, Ms. Valle puts in a tireless effort to make sure the Charm Dept’s. message is effectively communicated and their initiatives successfully promote change.

“I am the middle person between Ms. Brown’s classroom, the district, our office, and our business partners. My job is to execute the implementation of the program alongside overlooking all the competition that takes part in the Company Program. Just like the students behind the Charm Department, finding a product you are passionate about, but not giving up on because the process may get hard along the way, will always help you build stronger and teach you bigger capacities,” JA Official Vanessa Valle said.

One of Ms. Valle’s many responsibilities as a JA Official is to overlook the school business competing in the Company Program. Visiting the Charm Dept. on March 14., Ms. Valle gave feedback to the captains and their sales. (Aaron Rojas)

Touching base with Ms. Brown to stay in the loop, Ms. Valle suggested a partner for the corporation.

“We work with different business partners and the purpose is to have the business leaders come into the classrooms being role models for students and also share their areas of expertise to demonstrate that the work is not just context, but something obtainable,” Ms. Valle said.

Following the advice from Ms. Valle, Ms. Brown invited Patrick Creegan, Director of Institutional Defined Contribution from BlackRock to the classroom. Working with Charm Dept. on a weekly basis, Mr. Creegan is both the corporation’s volunteer and senior advisor.

“My role for the Charm Department is being that ‘outside influence’ to help execute and implement their vision and make it a reality. I’m heavily involved with the corporation, visiting them frequently and being in Zoom Meeting calls for hours. Seeing as how we already turned a profit in Week 1 with 150 sales, in the Junior Achievement Company Program, we [Gables] are also the only corporation out of 35 high schools to be manufacturing our own products in-house,” Mr. Creegan said.

Coming from an investment management company known as BlackRock, Mr. Creegan has guided the Charm Department on their JA Company Program by expanding their business. (Matthew Castano)

Drawing from his extensive experience as a successful businessman, Mr. Creegan has offered advice on how to develop effective marketing strategies to appeal the charms to potential students.

“I want these students to see that they invested in the corporation and reach their 1,000 goal with $3,000 in total. I want them to think that instead of wanting to double their investment, think about multiplying 10 times more. For example, when I came to the class [March 10], we sent out three sales teams to go to individual classrooms and present with other teachers, bringing them in. Before they left I told them, ‘Don’t come back until you’ve sold something’, and they ended up coming back selling 25 charms,” Mr. Creegan said.

Additionally, Mr. Creegan has facilitated a connection with the University of Miami’s School of Architecture adviser, Matthew Fernandez, who later suggested junior Mykayla Pauls take on the task as their personal manufacturer.

“They asked for students who would want to work with Gables for the business and I showed interest in the flyer. From there, they connected me with Patrick Creegan and we started to think about the designs, sizes, and colors for the higher-quality charms,” U-SoA student Mykayla Pauls said.

The Sindoh 3-D printers located in the Fabrication Laboratory within the U-SoA’s premises are accessible to all college students. To create these new charms, Pauls begins by utilizing Rhinoceros, a software for 3-D designs, to save the design file on her computer. Later, she transfers the file to the 3-D printer using a geometric code command, which directs the printer on what to do while inserting a filament to create the charm’s shape.

Creating a mass production of Croc Charms over at U-SoA, Mykayla Pauls and Matthew Fernandez exemplify the products that will be picked up from Mr. Creegan and eventually sold at Gables. (Courtesy of Mykayla Pauls)

Creating approximately 50 charms every week as a college student can be quite challenging with a college-used printer. However, despite the difficulties, Pauls has successfully managed to keep up with the task and deliver the finished products to Mr. Creegan on time.

“This project has reminded me that there are other events that I can do outside of my college campus. Even though I’m overwhelmed with college, working, and life in general, there is always some type of way to give back and connect with people that I usually wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. This experience has also led me to have an opportunity to open myself out there and bring excitement to students,” Pauls said.

From Pozo raising his hand to the tireless efforts in making a profitable business, the Cavalier-style Croc Charms not only showcased the ingenuity and creativity of members within, but also their ability to work as a team and overcome obstacles.

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About the Photographers
Photo of Aaron Rojas
Aaron Rojas, CavsConnect Features Editor

Entering his third year in CavsConnect, Aaron Rojas is the newest editor on the team for Features. As he enters the ranks of rising juniors in the International...

Photo of Maria Odio
Maria Odio, CavsConnect Features Editor

Maria Odio is a senior at Coral Gables Senior High and is looking forward to continuing her writing career this year as features editor for CavsConnect....

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