Meet Ryli Michalczuk, a high school co-op student with a growing social enterprise. Ryli joined us at the EPICentre through the winter semester, learning more about social entrepreneurship and even volunteering her time to be a panelist at this years Social Enterprise Forum. Learn more about her venture below!
My name is Ryli Michalczuk and I am in Grade 11 at F.J. Brennan Catholic High School, currently in the Co-op Program. For the past 6 years, I have had my own non-profit business that I started when I was 11 years old. The reason I wanted to start this business was because I had an eye-opening experience that made me really think and changed my perspective. I was at an annual turkey giveaway when I noticed that a woman’s bag broke, and naturally, I helped her to pick up her things. I realized that all of her belongings and everything that mattered to her was being held inside that bag. This made me think, “What can I do to help this problem?” So, I got to thinking and decided that I was going to buy reusable bags for the people who come to the turkey giveaway every year. I knew that I would have to find a way to raise the funds, the only question was, how?
Naturally, I chose to start doing something that I had experience with, which at the time was knitting and selling hats. The hats were a huge success, and in my first year of doing this, I sold over 100 hats. At the end of the year, I had raised over $1,100 which went to purchasing 500 reusable metro bags. Now by this time, I decided that I wanted to expand my business venture by making and selling other crafts as well as baked goods. Depending on the season, I would make different crafts as well as different themed baked goods that are customizable depending on the occasion. These new added products were a big success. That year as well, I decided I wanted to do more. So, I decided that I was going to throw a pizza party for Street Help Homeless Centre of Windsor with additional funds from my yearly fundraising. This party was nice as I got to directly see the impact I was making, by serving pizza to the homeless people of the centre. I have continued to expand my business to selling a wide variety of products, and to-date, I have raised over $11,000, in the past six years of my fundraising.
When I had the opportunity to take the co-op program at school, I knew that I wanted to do something that had to do with entrepreneurship, especially considering I run my own business. When I found out about the opportunity to go to the EPICentre for my co-op placement, I was very excited about this opportunity. In the past few weeks at the EPICentre, I have felt very welcomed. I wanted to learn more to help me in growing my business and other things that will help me regarding my business. So far, I feel like I’ve learned many valuable skills. I am so excited for the things to come during my co-op experience here at the EPICentre.