Student run business wins national award

A couple kids green thumbs lead to a free trip to Indianapolis

HomeThyme students Sa’Niah Henderson, Joe Scarpino, Roman Begue and Andrew Arway their last day at Corteva. “We went through a leadership seminar,” advisor Mike Nieporte said. Eagle photo curtesy of Theresa Rhoads.

 When talking about successful businesses, everybody thinks of something different. Some envision a suit and tie 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Small and/or local businesses tend to get swept under the rug. 

     However, a high school run business sponsored by a multi-billion dollar company is bound to get some attention. 

     HOMETHYME is that business consisting of GlenOak seniors who hand make and sell indoor herb gardens. 

     “Most people don’t have gardens either due to space or they live in apartments,” senior and vice president of sales Roman Begue said. “So you can just hang it up on the wall. It’s very space saving and functional.” 

     It all started as a group project for teacher Amanda DeFays’s and Mike Nieporte’s business course. Like any business, everybody has their part to play. The team consists of CEO Tommy Rice, Vice President Andrew Arway, Financial Manager Joe Scarpino and Supply Chain Manager SaNiah Henderson. Begue and the rest of the team spent weeks tossing around ideas until a single CDC statistic led to a breakthrough. 

     “During 2015-2018,” the CDC article said. “Over one-third (36.3%) of children and adolescents consumed fast food on any given day.” 

     This news startled Begue and his teammates, sending them on a mission to find a more 

convenient and healthy way to help. 

     One of the former group members, senior Kerri McCallen, used her past horticulture experience as inspiration.

      “The hardest part of all of it is just helping them land on something that works to really solve a problem,” DeFays said. “We as advisers want them to not just be basic like selling a keychain or a t-shirt, but let it have some meaning behind it. So we’re always pushing them to find some meaning behind what it is that they’re going to do.” 

    Many classes were spent working on designing their product and building their business. Finally, HOMETHYME was born, a business selling at-home vertical herb gardens. 

    “It’s a three-foot cedarwood board with four mason jars,” Begue said. “We give you everything else to grow. Sand, seeds, soil, gravel.” 

     The top jar is for green onions, and you can choose from their selection of eight different herb seed packets for the other three jars. HOMETHYME also provides consumers with recipe cards to help incorporate what they grow into their diet. 

     Along with promoting a healthier lifestyle, HOMETHYME coincidentally contributed to solving another problem. 

     “The state of Ohio actually put this person from the Ohio Department of Agriculture at Junior Achievement because they’re looking for kids to start solving some of the farming issues,” DeFays said. 

     After noticing an email about this issue, DeFays did some research and discovered something new about the community. 

     “The amount of farmland is shrinking and the amount of people going into farming is shrinking as well,” DeFays said. “If we don’t do something drastic soon, then we won’t be able to produce enough food to be sustainable here in the United States.” 

     In October DeFays noticed an email from the company Corteva explaining that it was looking for students creating agriculture related companies. First DeFays had to check with the company administration to see if they qualified, but she eventually got the green light. 

     After hours of paperwork, DeFays submitted the application. HOMETHYME was announced as the first place winner, earning the grant money and an all expenses paid trip to Indianapolis. The trip was for the top four winning groups nationwide, and lasted three days. Begue and his team had the opportunity to speak with important business professionals, attend interactive workshops, and participate in group bonding activities. 

    “We got a lot of connections,” Begue said. “We actually met Rhonda Ham, she has a statue in the Smithsonian. We all got her business card.” 

     The group experienced as much as they could. From walking around downtown to failing to escape an escape room and even spending $30 on a milkshake. 

     However, the story does not end there. HOMETHYME not only won the grant, but a sponsorship from Corteva. Corteva is a major seed producer and agricultural research company. Last year the company made $16 billion in revenue. 

     Since Corteva is now sponsoring HOMETHYME, the company can print the Corteva logo on their products. What once started out as a small idea in a high school class has grown into a product with the potential to help many, and caught the eye of even more.