Christophe Davis is the founder of Christophe Collective, a small business specializing in the production of 3D printed games and puzzles. Her sister Sophie is the founder of Sophie’s Sweet Shop, which offers a collection of dessert-themed backpack clips and accessories. The duo are the inspiration behind the nonprofit Girls Crushing It – an organization which educates girls in entrepreneurship. Their curriculum culminates into pop-up shops where the sisters, along with about 100 other entrepreneurs, sell their wares to actual customers. Recently, the spread of the Coronavirus resulted in the cancelation of the organization’s Spring Pop-up Shop. Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center caught up with the girls to hear about how they channeled their desire to help their community and their abundance of 3D printer filament into the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) accessories.
How did your company come to be?
DS: We started selling products at school a couple of years ago. We quickly saturated the market selling to friends and teachers and later at pop-up shops throughout the year. Recently, when we heard that 3D printers were being used to produce PPE and related accessories, we were eager to pivot production towards devices that could help healthcare workers. After some research, we settled on facemask strap adapters which relieve pressure on the ears.
What has been your biggest challenge?
DS: The biggest challenge in printing the adapter straps was determining the proper calibration and temperature settings so that the adapters would stick to the board yet also be easily detached once completed. We had to test different sizes and depths in our 3D software program, and it took about 6 prototypes for us to get the settings correct.
What has been your greatest success?
DS: We’ve been able to use filament that we had left over from previous products, so this allowed us to create our first large batch of devices at no cost and donate them to healthcare workers.
What are you most proud of?
DS: We partnered with a family friend (who is a nurse) to donate the devices to Bay Area hospitals. We’re also very proud to have received orders from as far away as New Orleans, Louisiana; Anchorage, Alaska; and Venice, Italy. We were invited to record a video for a 7th grade class in Italy to help inspire them to think of ways that they can help during the Coronavirus pandemic.
What is the biggest lesson you learned through entrepreneurship?
CD: The biggest lesson I learned is that you can start off small and grow your business to create enough income to invest and give back to a cause you care about. For me, that has been Coronavirus relief and the World Wildlife Fund.
SD: I learned that while you’re able to sell things that you love, you can also change your focus to make products that can help people.
How do you balance entrepreneurship with schoolwork?
DS: Because our 3D printer needs to be printing constantly, we get it started first thing in the morning. Then we start our schoolwork, taking breaks as needed to start new print jobs. We spend the weekends focused on packaging and shipping.
What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs?
DS: Pace yourself so that your brain is not overloaded. Remember to be creative, so your brand can extend.
If you have an idea for a business, don’t be afraid to run with it. Just create a prototype and test it out with friends and family. Then keep making improvements based on their feedback. Don’t get discouraged if you get constructive criticism – this will help make your product better and more sellable.
How can parents support their children’s entrepreneurial spirits?
SD: Parents can encourage their children to pursue their entrepreneurial interests by investing in supplies or classes in their areas of interest. Parents can also help promote their child’s products to friends and family.
CD: Parents should help their children brainstorm when they are stuck, but don’t rush to solve every problem for them. We have become very independent when it comes to managing our business and our money.
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