In an effort to reduce the amount of plastic threatening human and planetary health, students at Fountain Valley High School Virtual business class have developed a denim clothing business using recycled materials.

MINED is a continuation of the recent wave of environmentally conscious EV business models over the past two years.

With a large influx of sustainable businesses to draw inspiration from, the team has translated this mission into a clothing business, a subsection that has not been represented in business models until now. They strive to create a unique and sustainable approach to reducing the plastic waste that plagues the planet.

“MINED is actually ‘denim’ spelled backwards because we are here to overthrow the industry,” said Natalie Papazian, Managing Director. “We mainly focus on creating clothes from recycled plastic water bottles [and] … Currently offer hats, jeans and face masks made from our material.

The MINED team has been very successful thanks to its efforts. So far, the team has been recognized nationwide with Top 15 Sales Pitches, Top 15 Selling Materials, Top 10 User Experiences, Silver Banner Advertising, Top 20, and Top 10 EV companies, where it ranked first in the West Coast Division and fourth overall.

They also placed second in the Gold Email Marketing and Gold Video Commercial categories. Recently, the team ranked in the top 10 in terms of sales pitch, sales materials and overall experience at the Western Region Winter Trade Show on January 22.

However, the road to such success, especially when launching and operating a business model amid COVID-19 restrictions and a largely digital environment, has not been easy.

“We definitely had a bunch of hiccups along the way,” said Rosy Mondragon, COO. “It really is [take] a lot of time trying to figure out who could do [our photoshoot] and under what circumstances. We were able to do that and created some amazing photos for our business which was really awesome. “

MINED faced communication difficulties in the quarantined online environment. Loss of personal connection has been a limiting factor that has created a learning curve in terms of teamwork and cooperation. However, the MINED team managed to overcome this drawback and accomplish great things in a digital setting.

Seniors Natalie Papazian, Rosy Mondragon, Ivy Phan and Minh Phan along with junior Laura Sabate meet in a practice session for the business plan competition. Photo courtesy of MINED.

The way the team competes has also been subject to change. VE teams typically attend their trade shows and various other competitions as part of a convention with hundreds of other VE companies representing their schools. The competitions were a place to meet other VE cohorts and judges, something that provided valuable interactions in the VE program.

This competitive model has naturally become obsolete in the age of social distancing and limited gatherings and replaced by a host of connection issues. While the occasional technological complication is an expected problem, the loss of the one-to-one connection has also been detrimental, especially to their trade show competitions where they have to sell their products to customers.

Still, the MINED team managed to persevere through the challenges that the new all-digital competition framework posed, making great sales in their salons and meeting many others from the EV world.

The MINED team presents to the judges of the Design for Delight competition. Photo courtesy of MINED.

Papazian and last year’s VE team were part of the digital competitions pilot program when COVID-19 first hit the United States in March 2020. The use of live presentations last year became the basis of the this year’s competition model. The first-hand experience helped the MINED team to better prepare for the competitions.

For now, the team is looking forward to the launch of their spring collection in March with new products and another photoshoot and continue their streak of achievements.

“We have more awards ceremonies coming up and that means there are more competitions to come and more chances of winning. It’s really exciting and I think we’re going to do really well, ”Papazian said.

You can find and follow MINED on their website or on Instagram and Twitter @FVHSVE.


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