Written by Abdullah (Class of 2019, Oman)
The idea of student leadership is emphasized in UWC ISAK Japan, and so we, students, get to lead in the exploration of our interests, while also receiving support and advice/expertise from the faculty and staff. The UWC ISAK Merch (merchandise) Club was the brainchild of my classmate Ben. It has provided the venue for us to exercise and display our entrepreneurial spirit while at UWC ISAK Japan.
To start our journey with Merch Club, we obviously needed some capital to buy inventory. We were keen on producing many school-logo products, however we also understood that we cannot start big, and so we asked for support from our school, and thankfully, the UWC ISAK admissions team provided us with a loan. This loan, alongside our first run of hoodies which were produced to the majority of the school community provided us with the capital needed to produce more products such as tote bags, sports bags, and water bottles.
To everyone’s surprise, we managed to re-pay our loan 3 months before the deadline, and ever since then, we have been growing bigger and bigger as a club. We have been an independent business(club) ever since then, with Ben, myself, and the other members having complete control of our decisions. This was how Merch club was born and this entrepreneurial DNA runs throughout the club.
During the current academic year, our focus shifted a bit from just making money, and it became more centred around meeting the needs of our school community. We wanted to match and even surpass the level of other UWCs and their merch stores, and so our main goal was to create a professional looking and useful website. This is when we recruited another classmate, Jerry, to our team, who has been in charge of the design department of the club ever since. He created the MaruMaru.tk website, and we believe that this elevated our club.
Our biggest hot product this year has been the UWC ISAK Japan sweatshirts. Since we already made hoodies last year, we wanted to try something new, and this is the justification to choosing sweatshirts. We wanted to make them look fancy, and so we found a company that would embroider the logo, and we believe that this was a great decision.
Throughout our journey as a club, of course we had setbacks such as a lack of interest in some of our products, or low sales during some events, however, we persevered throughout and understood that there are peak and non-peak times in business, and I think that experiencing those difficult times is part of our learning and self-leading. We are left to fail to learn from our mistakes. Our school sweatshirts recently arrived, and we are over the moon with how they feel and look. There has been a lot of demand for another round of hoodies, and so we might also consider doing this as our last act as seniors and leaders of this club.
A legacy has been created not just by me, but by all the founding members—Ben, Denzel, and Des—who continued with this club ever since the start, and we are sure that regardless of what the future of merch club is, we have left it in the best possible shape, and have made positive impact to the school community. The benefit was both for us on a personal level, as we experienced what it meant like to be entrepreneurs, but also for the school community as we actually created a merchandise store for UWC ISAK Japan.