By Matt de Simone
The Gauntlet, a 10-week business competition for entrepreneurs, has come to a close. The virtual graduation/awards ceremony is set to take place on June 25.
Buchanan’s Sarah Boblett was one of the competitors in this year’s competition. Her business, Ribbon Me This, is a venture that gives children and teens the opportunity to develop their creative skills making handcrafted flower-adorned headbands, ornaments, and other crafts using ribbons from their own design. Boblett spoke of Ribbon Me This as a place for kids to socialize with like-minded creators, explore a variety of mediums and techniques, and serve as a place to learn new skills in their own community.
Boblett spent the last eight years designing handmade items out of felt and ribbons for girls and infants. She developed her skills with help from her mother and father as well as befriending a creative friend while she lived in Las Cruces, N.M., in 2008.
“Ribbon Me This is something that I have done in the past,” Boblett explained. “For The Gauntlet, my official business is starting arts and crafts classes for kids and teens. In the past, the Ribbon Me This business has been handmade accessories but I’m branching out.”
Most of the handmade items created by Boblett have been sold at The Beaver Dam Sunflower Festival, Etsy, and Best Place Antiques lin the Town of Buchanan. She also created “Crafty Kid Pop-up Parties,” where kids have a chance to put their creative minds to work. These spontaneous parties helped inspire Boblett to begin putting together her model for Ribbon Me This. Pop-ups have become a familiar format in creative communities. They provide ways to market new and potential businesses. Boblett plans to expand this model into her own studio utilizing now only ribbon work but also painting with acrylics and watercolor, sewing basic stitches where the kids sew their own wallets, and crafting felt four-leaf clovers.
The Gauntlet competition is a first for Boblett. She is currently the librarian at Buchanan Elementary School. “I’m in education,” Boblett said. “The private business sector is something completely new to me. I have learned a lot about budgeting, finance, and codes. The Gauntlet hooked me up with mentors and I’ve met with the Chamber of Commerce. I’ve been able to network a lot and receive good mentors. I just needed to know the ends and outs of business because I want to do this right. Even if I don’t win any prizes, I will have a business plan when I’m done that I can someday take to a lender or tweak in the future to make any changes in order to make my business successful.”
Boblett and this new league of entrepreneurs met every week throughout the course of the competition. Additionally, The Gauntlet offers “extra credit” opportunities. For example, Boblett took a weekend tour of Lexington and Buena Vista to learn more about small town business in the surrounding regions. Each weekly workshop provided more information from presenters for the competitors to apply to their business plans.
“Being around kids—I love that part of my job. There’s really not a lot [of arts and crafts workshops] for students in this area. Kids have to travel to Roanoke or the YMCA in Daleville to access these kinds of opportunities. There’s not as many in our own community so I was kind of thinking that branching out this way I would provide a service to the kids of this community too.”
Boblett said that her goal in participating in The Gauntlet was to graduate with a firm business plan in mind for Botetourt County’s creative young minds.
For more information on The Gauntlet, please visit: https://theadvancementfoundation.org/gauntlet-business-program-competition/
Ribbon Me This can be found at: https://sites.google.com/view/ribbon-me-this/home?authuser=1