Minding Their Own Business: Students Take Charge of the Chellie Club

by Steve Reed | Jul 22, 2019 | Cottey College 0 Comments

If anyone should ask where the next generation of female business leaders are, look no further than Cottey College. Members of the College’s business club Enactus have taken their education way beyond book-learning–they run a business! Led by students Allyson Williams and Karlie Acton, a team of future business professionals took over the operation of the campus snack bar, The Chellie Club, last semester.

Allyson Williams and Karlie ActonGetting to the point where the students could even propose managing the Chellie Club required an entrepreneurial effort. Dr. Tammy Ogren, Assistant Professor of Business Administration-Management, took students on a field trip to Kansas City to visit different startup companies.

“Students expressed the fact that they didn’t feel like they had hands-on business experience at Cottey,” said Acton. “She [Ogren] saw a need and decided to fix it by starting Enactus.”

“Enactus is a national organization for students that supports entrepreneurism in action (ENACTUS: ENtrepreneurism in ACTion among US). In spring 2018, Williams, Enactus president, held several student meetings with Enactus members or interested parties to brainstorm what project we would tackle,” Dr. Ogren said. “Students had a variety of ideas: selling student creative pieces on a website, teaching classes to Nevada youth, managing the Chellie Club, funding bottle fillers on campus, starting an art studio with recycled materials, etc.”

Enactus is under the guidance of Dr. Ogren, who can share her own real-life experiences of creating and running a business. She was the owner of Spicy Guys Snack Foods before becoming a college business professor.

Acton pushed the Chellie Club idea. “Coming into Cottey my first year, healthy eating was very important to me,” she said. “I thought that as a business student, it would be a great opportunity to take it over and revamp it, offering healthy options and opening for more hours during the day.”

For decades, the Chellie Club was a part-time, sometimes open, often closed, gathering place and coffee shop. Open only two-to-three nights per week in recent years, students could not grab a quick lunch or breakfast. Enactus members realized there was a potential customer base of faculty, staff and commuter students who didn’t have a meal plan in the dining room and might want to have the convenience of another campus location, open for additional hours, where they could get coffee, pastries, pizza, soft drinks and sandwiches.

“One of the best experiences I have had at Cottey was creating an organization on campus, Enactus, that allowed students the chance to address needs with an entrepreneurial mindset while having advisers and mentors to help and direct them,” said Williams. Williams serves as the president of Enactus and Acton serves as the treasurer of both Enactus and the Chellie Club.

The members of Enactus, with assistance from the Dining Services staff, are responsible for hiring and training employees, making sure the club is staffed during listed hours, keeping accurate records and tracking inventory.

One of the primary changes to the Chellie Club, other than the expanded hours, is the option for delivery on campus. Members of the campus community can order a coffee from their office or residence hall, and a Chellie Club employee will deliver it. Recently, the Chellie Club added the ability to accept credit and debit cards as well as Apple Pay.

Acton said the Chellie Club does more than meet the students’ needs for a campus snack bar. “I absolutely love Cottey and I want prospective students to realize how amazing it is. I thought that a trendy coffee shop/café where students could collaborate, study or just have fun together would help increase enrollment and give them an incentive to come. I was pleased to find out that other people felt the same way.”

To reflect the new student-led management of the snack bar, the name was changed to Chellie Club: An Entrepreneurial Lab. A new logo reflecting the name change was designed and new signage is up inside the dining area.

Acton and Williams did an incredible job organizing and running the Chellie Club this past semester. However, it will be up to a new group of students next year as both graduated with their bachelor’s degrees in May. Williams earned a degree in Business Administration-Management, and Acton earned degrees in Business Administration-Management and Organizational Leadership.

The Chellie Club may be the only business that intentionally changes its management every year. However, if the popularity of Cottey’s business majors is any indication, there should be several qualified students each year ready to step into the role of entrepreneur. More important
, every year, Cottey will send qualified entrepreneurs into the market.

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