MONTVILLE, NJ - The William Mason School was transformed into a vibrant market where nearly 30 elementary school students sold their wares at their first TREP$ Marketplace on Saturday, March 12.

"We were pretty confident that the subject of entrepreneurship was an exciting one that the kids would love to explore. What we didn't know was how smart you are, how creative you are and how brave you are!" event co-chair Sue Eagan said to the young entrepreneurs before the official ribbon cutting to open the event. "What a fabulous group to have as our first ever William Mason TREP$ entrepreneurs. The creativity and excitement generated by this group of business people is contagious and proves that young kids can run a business and work hard to create interesting and moneymaking products."

TREP$, short for entrepreneurs, is an education program that teaches about entrepreneurship and is designed to serve as an inspiration for young people to think creatively and put their ideas into action by creating their very own business. Through a series of after school workshops the students learn how to operate their own business. The program covers topics like product development, marketing, sales, customer service and handling money. The marketplace is the culmination of the program. 

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For this inaugural event, the program was made up of fifth and fourth grade students who represented over 20 different businesses selling a variety of products and services, including baked goods, LEGO themed items, baseball trading cards, Irish food, bookmarks, key chains, dog walking services, mapping tutorials, yard work services, history cards, coasters, soaps and jewelry.

Over the course of the two hour event, many of these prosperous and hard working businesses sold out of the goods they had prepared for the day and many took orders to fulfill after the event.

TREP$ entrepreneur Maggie Batta, whose business name is 'Rose Oaks,' made coasters from fallen trees in her backyard. "My dad helped me with the idea. I started with five different ideas for businesses and I chose this one because I thought this was the thing I could do the best," Batta told TAP into Montville. "We had some trees come down in our backyard, so we recycled them by cutting them into smaller sizes to make the coasters and I shellacked them."

"This was an awesome experience for both myself and the children," William Mason teacher and event co-chair Christine Auten said. "Everyone worked very hard and they learned that there is more thought into selling a product then just putting a price on it. For example, they had to consider whether there was a need for their product, decide the right price, figure out how they were going to let people know about their product and explain to customers why they need to purchase the product. I think the children were very proud of themselves that they could do it."

When asked how she came up with the idea for her business, TREP$ entrepreneur Paytan Grevesen of 'Sweet P's' cupcakes told TAP into Montville that she was looking through Pinterest and found caramel frappuccino cupcakes and she thought to herself, "who doesn't like those!" For the cupcakes, Grevesen commented that she made all of the ingredients from scratch, even the caramel. Grevesen said that her love for animals inspired her to donate her proceeds made at the TREP$ Marketplace half to the Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter and half to Save the Manatees.

The William Mason Home and School Association congratulated the entrepreneurs for "an amazing job" at the TREP$ Marketplace. "The products were extremely creative and demonstrated the tremendous amount of effort that the students have dedicated to the TREP$ program over the past few weeks." Additionally, the HSA extended its thanks to the committee co-chairs, Christine Auten, Sue Eagan and Joanna Howard, as well as the event sponsor Investors Bank.