Student Spotlight: Katie Hornsby

Founding “Fortitude”

The Spark! entrepreneurs hold a discussion at the Spark! incubator.

The Spark! entrepreneurs hold a discussion at the Spark! incubator.

As an average everyday high schooler, the phrase “real world experience” is one loaded with a heaping plate of mixed emotions with ambiguity and uncertainty being at the forefront. However, with the launch of the Spark! program (read about that here), Parkway has now created a chance for entrepreneurship amongst its students.

“Parkway students should take advantage of the Spark! opportunity because it’s exciting, fresh and fun,” program director Xanthe Meyer said. “So many great supporters of this program such as Parkway’s Board of Education, local mentors and exemplary teachers have helped make this a successful journey for our Spark! Entrepreneurs.”

Principal Jeremy Mitchell visits the Spark! Incubator at Chesterfield Mall.
Katie Hornsby
Principal Jeremy Mitchell visits the Spark! Incubator at Chesterfield Mall.

Two students from Parkway West are currently enrolled in the program: senior Emily Young and junior Katie Hornsby.

“Emily is probably the most well-rounded, dedicated student I know. She is a true leader and her outgoing charm makes her an asset to any team,” Meyer said. “Emily and Greg Cordover [Parkway Central] have a great idea to reach fashionably challenged women through Snap Style.

With the help of West’s Journalism adviser Debra Klevens, Hornsby was invited to spearhead the social media and public relations aspect of the program.

“Katie is an amazing media specialist who has already excelled in her role at Spark! I’m so excited for and her partner, Andrea Bauer [Parkway South, 12], to pitch their business idea,” Meyer said.

In the first six weeks of the program, Hornsby and Bauer have begun to create a public relations/marketing/communications firm, entitled Fortitude.

“[The definition of] Fortitude is courage in pain or adversity; it fits us really well as teens going into the marketing business because there are people who will doubt us or think we can’t live up to their expectations,” Hornsby said.

[Fortitude is] teens… marketing to other teens. We know what they want and how to get them connect to it,”

— Katie Hornsby, 11

Fortitude will be oriented primarily towards local startup businesses, helping them to reach out to the teenage demographic.

“We have a lot of mentors helping us discover our story that we need to pitch; since there are so many other marketing businesses out there, we need to find what sets us apart. I think it’s the fact that we are teens ourselves marketing to other teens, so we know what other teens want and how to get them connected to it.”

Hornsby created Fortitude because the work she does is similar to that of her editorial position for the PAWESEHI yearbook, which she could no longer fulfill.

“I picked an idea that was similar to my role in yearbook; A media specialist has to write press releases, take pictures and get the word out. My job for Spark! is yearbook to the max,” Hornsby said.

Hornsby’s responsibilities at Spark! have led to the creation and management of social media platforms on Twitter and Instagram, a website, and an advertisement for Connect, an entrepreneurial magazine.

“Katie is an excellent presenter and her area of strength is her ability to have a creative outlook on situations. Her room for improvement lies in the need to understand the business model she has created. Once she masters her business strategy, she’ll set the world on fire,” Meyer said.

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, Hornsby, Bauer, Young and the entrepreneurs participated in a learning curve which involved pitching their businesses to a board of local entrepreneurs.

“For the practice pitch, we decided to focus on the idea of a commission based company where we show the business we work for that we’ve aided them in our job of marketing before we get paid,” Hornsby said. “It demonstrates that we are closely involved with the business that is our client.”

This upcoming Thursday, Sept. 18, all of the participants will re-pitch their ideas in a shark tank format – seven will be picked by professional judges to continue and the rest will regroup and create a new idea.

“On Thursday we’re going to focus on what sets us apart in our story rather than the numbers we currently have,” Hornsby said. We’re trying to pull on heartstrings because we can get the 12-25 demographic involved with their stores and help their business because of our proximity to that demographic.”