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FUEL Studio

FUEL Studio Students

Located in Suite 307 on the ground floor of the Jutila Center campus, the Finlandia University Experiential Learning (FUEL) studio is a student-run retail business that markets and sells products made by Finlandia students and alumni, and local businesses and artists. It is open to the public.

What we are all about

The FUEL Studio is a student-ran business that allows certain students every semester from Finlandia University to have a chance at running a locally owned business. Our consignment business offers a wide range of products and materials, specially made in the U.P. By giving students an opportunity to run a business, it allows for students to learn how to advertise, market, search for new vendors and product, partake in accounting affairs, and all the other aspects of learning how to run a business. This essentially gives students great work experience, and a chance at working hands-on with real business owners and other striving entrepreneurs.

Products in the FUEL Studio

The products in the FUEL Studio vary from a variety of art mediums, such as; ceramics, fine arts, graphic design, jewelry, knitwear, and many more. All of the products from the FUEL Studio are either locally made or locally assembled. The Upper Peninsula offers such inspiration to those of our vendors that utilize our suomi culture, thus it allows them to create and explore many different products and works of art. We carry pictures, hats, baby accessories, scarves, jewelry, ceramics, apparel, bags, lip balms, candles, candy, chocolate, jams, syrups, coffee, tea and many marvelous hidden treasures. There are certainly gifts here for everyone and for many occasions!

History of FUEL Studio

Since 2005, the Coleman Foundation generously supported student entrepreneurship at Finlandia through its Entrepreneurship Excellence in Teaching Colleges program. A competitively awarded grant of $150,000, disbursed over three academic years from 2005 to 2008, was a significant resource in establishing the ISAD Design program, which focuses on the "Finnish Model" of design education where design and business education collaborate in a cross-discipline curriculum with a strong focus on entrepreneurship and industry engagement.

The FUEL Studio was started in 2009 when Bonnie Holland, the then director of the Jutila Center and Business Incubator, allocated USASBE funding to create hands-on entrepreneurial learning experience for students campus-wide. This idea was formulated by Holland and Denise Vandeville, dean of the International School of Art & Design (ISAD), after they attended a conference in Texas during the 2008-2009 academic year about incorporating entrepreneurial practices into the curriculum.

Several of our faculty across campus were/are Coleman Fellows, those involved with the development and direction of the FUEL Studio included Fred Knoch, Lisa Casper, Mike Bausano, Terry Monson , Kevin Manninen, Denise Vandeville, and, Bonnie Holland. Our current Director of the Jutila Center is Karin Van Dyke. Van Dyke continues to work closely with the Coleman Foundation and the newest group of Coleman Fellows.

FUEL stands for Finlandia University Experiential Learning. At the time it was simply known as the FUEL Studio. Now it is known as the FUEL Studio and Gift Shop. It is an intensive class in which students run a retail store that sells art and other items created by university students, staff, faculty, and local U.P. community. Originally a resource for junior-level project based ISAD courses in the 2010-2011 academic year FUEL Studio learning was integrated into the freshman art and design student experience. Then, in Fall 2010, Fred Knoch, past corporate relations director at the Jutila Center, and adjunct instructor for Art & Design Project Management (ARD 329), led a team of seven students in the creation of a preliminary framework for the FUEL Studio retail store, including business structure, physical layout, and the design and production of products. At the same time, Lisa Casper, adjunct instructor for Art Entrepreneurship (BUS 325), challenged her students to conduct market research and devise a marketing plan for the FUEL Studio.

This collaborative effort led to the students opening a pilot retail store in the last two weeks of December 2010. The student-entrepreneurs produced more than 100 items, including kitchen trowels, jewelry, apparel and dishware. The event was a success with positive cash flow in just two weeks.

"Running a real store, even for two weeks, presented such a rich environment for learning," Knoch said. "Everywhere I looked in the store, I saw opportunities for learning, such as modules in marketing, promotion, merchandising, inventory, accounting, price point, and product selection."

Casper commented on the importance of such a learning opportunity, "whether you want to be an entrepreneur, artist, business manager or designer, the best thing that you can do for your future is to gain hands-on experience. The store offers students across disciplines the opportunity to learn by doing. Running a store gives students a chance to see priorities from many perspectives." Casper is currently the advisor for the store. The FUEL store has been up and running from 2010 - present. Each semester students shape the store with their own unique and important contributions. It is continuously evolving as students redefine the direction with their daily decisions.

For more information, contact Kevin Manninen at 906-487-7371 or kevin.manninen@finlandia.edu. Check out the Fuel Studio on Facebook at facebook.com/FuelStudio. The Jutila Center is at 200 Michigan Street in Hancock.