Students spark FREED Education

In order to create chances for children in third-world countries, senior Katie Hornsby and juniors (from Parkway South) Wesley Mourton and Luke Bauer, created a for-profit business through Spark! called FREED.

“FREED is modeled after the Toms One for One campaign, but with school supplies. For every notebook we sell, we will donate a notebook to a kid in need,” Hornsby said.

Hornsby, a returning Spark! student, shared her company vision with her business partners last spring.

“I told Wesley and Luke about the idea last year, and then this year they joined Spark! and we quickly teamed up and with no hesitation became FREED. We hang out all the time and I can honestly say they are my two best friends,” Hornsby said.

Hornsby and her partners main focus is on what they can do to make their notebooks stand out compared more well-known notebook brands.

“We’ve noticed that there is a hole in the market when it comes to high school and college students. Our selection is very limited making students choose between bland school supplies, as in red or blue, or childish designs such as Frozen. So we’re focusing on creating trendy designs to hook those high school and college students in, while still having the social responsibility of giving back,” Hornsby said.

FREED is having a launch Monday, Oct. 26. They are anticipating selling out before the launch even begins.

“We sent out a pre-order form through Twitter and Instagram and after one day we had 24 notebooks pre-ordered. Our 50 notebooks are set to be sold out before the launch date even occurs,” Hornsby said.

As soon as they sell out, they will start to make more, slowly increasing their numbers. Their goal is to sell 500 notebooks by January.

“As soon as we sell out, we will make 100 more, and from there eventually reach our goal of 500,” Hornsby said.

Since FREED has not gotten the numbers they need to partner with a manufacturing company, they decided to hand make the notebooks.

“Since we haven’t gotten the numbers to partner with a manufacturer yet, we have been binding the notebooks ourselves with a binding machine we bought, and we have also been getting help from people, mostly Varicia Pearson, with the designs. Our hope is to be partnered with a domestic manufacturer within the next couple of weeks in order to produce bigger quantities,” said Hornsby.  

FREED’s goal is to eventually sell 500 notebooks then donate 500 more notebooks to students who attend the RRUP Middle School in Kerala, India.

“The goal is to partner with schools who offer the attending students the ability to learn a second language in order to help break the poverty cycle and to help them move out of their small villages to get a job in the big city. Since India has many states that each speak a different language, helping children learn a language that is more widely spoken can increase their chances of getting a job in the big city, which help end the poverty cycle. The first school we partnered with was the RRUP Middle School in Kerala, India,” Hornsby said.

Hornsby also has a personal connection to the school after spending three days working in Kerala with the Spark! program. For three days she met with kids who attended RRUP Middle School and also managed to leave her mark in not such a small way. She ended up painting a mural on one of the school’s walls. Katie and her partners have been invested in this company and are glad that they get the opportunity to help kids that live in a third-world country get the education that kids who live in a first-world country get to have.