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AK Creates

Founder: Ada Knechtel

Started in 2020 

9th Grade

Shawnee Mission West

The Story ​

Ada is the visionary behind AK Creates. She launched her business four years ago, amid a global pandemic, with the goal of infusing creativity and positivity into the world through her art. Her website quickly captured widespread support, and her entrepreneurial journey has flourished.


Ada's business repertoire has expanded with new product lines, retail partnerships, and pop-up shops. She is fully invested in every aspect of business ownership. Her Studio Art class, with Mrs. Jewell, is adding to her ability to meticulously handcraft, illustrate, and design each product. She plans to take Business Management to consider ways to improve day-to-day operations- from the website to packaging, and even product photography. In classes like English Language Arts, Ada is fine tuning her ability to share narrative stories about her entrepreneurial journey.


With each passing day, she is living the dreams she once had as a child. Now, at 15, her aspirations have soared even higher, as she is poised to grow her business and pursue her dual passion for art and entrepreneurship well into the future.

Krispy Cuts

Founder: Cristian Rangel

Started in 2020 

12th Grade

Shawnee Mission West


The Story

In 2020, as the pandemic shuttered businesses worldwide, Cristian Rangel found himself captivated by a YouTuber's hair-cutting skills. This moment started his entrepreneurial journey. Kickstarted by a cousin's challenge and the closure of barbershops, Cristian seized the moment. He purchased clippers and began to practice cutting hair. This pursuit quickly evolved from a tentative experiment into a burning passion for barber services and product manufacturing.


As Cristian's skills sharpened, so did his business acumen. After realizing the demand, he created his own line of hair styling products. Cristian has developed a popular styling powder that has captured his customers' loyalty due to its quality and affordability. Recognition for Cristian's work began to spread through word-of-mouth in school, aided by teachers like his Accounting teacher, Mr. Sluga. This supportive teacher not only bought Cristian's merchandise, but wore it frequently, offering invaluable endorsement.


As his business grew, Cristian found practical value in his academic life. The skills taught in his accounting class are crucial for managing his growing financial responsibilities and building the foundation for a future where his barbering talent and business savvy will lead to even greater success. He is currently working with Student Services to locate scholarships to help pay for barber college.

At Oak Park Mall Soon...

Seven Stories Bookstore

Founder: Halley Vincent

Started in 2022 

9th Grade

Shawnee Mission North

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The Story ​

At the age of 14, Shawnee Mission North Freshman, Halley Vincent, has already opened the bookstore of her dreams.


On a chilly Thursday night during the final Moonlight Market in downtown Shawnee, Halley, with her mom, Alisha Vincent, cut the ribbon to her new space, Seven Stories. Located at 11109 Johnson Drive, next to the Masonic Lodge and J.C. Barbershop, which used to occupy the space, the bookstore’s walls are lined with a selection of the latest books, inspirational posters and greeting cards. 

Halley is excited to share the message that the Real World Learning Storefront at Oak Park Mall is available to all students, K-12, and the students are forming a Student Chamber of Commerce at the Shawnee Mission School District. The Chamber will connect and support young business owners. 

Motion Billionaires

Founder: Camera Shelton

Started in 2022 

10th Grade

Shawnee Mission West


The Story ​

In the wake of personal tragedy in 2020, a creative spark was ignited when Camera Shelton crafted her first pair of multi-colored fur slides. This hobby, quickly captivated local interest, and before she knew it, she was selling slides and harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit at the age of 12.


Teaming up with her cousin, now in another state, she aspired to transform her creative endeavor into a bona fide business. The line expanded to include decorated mirrors.


The challenges of finances, distance, and pursuing her education led to a pause. However, her ambition didn't wane; it evolved towards a new venture—a clothing brand named "Motion Billionaires." Her Digital Design class, with Dr. Dixon, became a tool for brand development. Streetwear designs and logos emerged from her classroom assignments and personal explorations on apps like Canva and Photoshop. The breakthrough came when a bright green neon beanie, designed on a school iPad, became her first successful product. Camera sold out quickly. She now has her eyes on future expansion and a strategy to scale production through pop-ups and perhaps, one day, a flagship store. In classes like English Language Arts, with Mrs. Courtney, Camera is also fine tuning her ability to share narrative stories about her entrepreneurial journey.

Gaby's Art Shop

Founder: Gaby Ruiz

Started in 2020

4th Grade

Brookridge Elementary School


The Story ​

Gaby's journey as an entrepreneur began in kindergarten during the pandemic, when she faced the common problem of misplacing her mask. Ingeniously, she created a custom lanyard to secure her mask, a simple solution that caught the attention of others. This incident sparked her entrepreneurial spirit, leading her to start selling her lanyards. Since then, Gaby has expanded her business to include bracelets, key chains, and positive word art. She is a familiar face at various pop-up events, where her creativity and business acumen shines brightly.

Crucial to Gaby's growth is the nurturing environment of the Shawnee Mission School District, especially teachers like Amber Pagan. Mrs. Pagan, who met Gaby in second grade, recognized Gaby's amazing work and recommend her for promotion in the Real World Learning Storefront at Oak Park Mall. Gaby's story is not just about business success; it's a testament to the impact of supportive educators and the power of a young, innovative mind. Her journey demonstrates how creativity and determination can turn a simple idea into a thriving enterprise.


Shawnee Mission School District

The Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) is providing Real World Learning opportunities for students as outlined in the district’s Strategic Plan.​


Shawnee Mission Student Businesses

The Shawnee Mission School District, in a Real World Learning partnership with Oak Park Mall, features student owned businesses in a unique and entrepreneurial storefront. This opportunity is now available to all SMSD students (grades K-12). 

Shawnee Mission Education Foundation

The Shawnee Mission Education Foundation, in partnership with the school district and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, is providing Real World Learning opportunities for students.

Students in our classrooms, generations Z and Alpha, are growing up in the digital economy. Many students are using their access to technology and resources to start real businesses now.

Real World Learning isn't a program- it is a change in mindset. A new way to view classroom assignments. A new way to tap the network around every classroom. A new approach to engaging ALL students.

Featured at our community popups...

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Nat's Mats

Natalie Moss | 10th Grade | Shawnee Mission West

Introducing Natalie Moss, a Junior at Shawnee Mission West, and the creative force behind Nat's Mats. Nat's Mats specializes in handcrafted custom rugs, coasters, wall hangings, mug rugs, and more. 


With a passion for crafts, sparked by TikTok inspiration, Natalie found her calling in rug tufting, a skill she's honed over six months of dedicated learning and improvement. Her joy comes from bringing customers' custom ideas to life, ensuring each piece adds vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and cozy textures to any space. Even for those with carpeted floors, Nat's Mats offers a refreshing way to personalize and elevate home decor.


Ready to adorn your space with a beautiful new creation? Purchase directly or submit your custom order through Natalie's convenient Google form. And if it's not quite your style, spread the word to friends who crave new, fun home accents!


Unlucky Rags

Alejandro Espinoza and Ryder Kirby | Shawnee Mission West

Meet Unlucky Rags, a venture founded by Alejandro Espinoza and Ryder Kirby, two enthusiasts deeply immersed in the world of thrifting and fashion.


With years of experience in online sales individually, they've now united forces under one banner to streamline operations and broaden their inventory offerings. Their mission is simple yet impactful- to offer sustainably sourced clothing that, not only reflects their expertise and passion, but also resonates with customers' values.


At Unlucky Rags, every piece tells a story of mindful consumption and personal style, inviting wearers to take pride in their wardrobe choices while supporting a more sustainable future.

Let's Accelerate Your Business

Calling all SMSD students (grades PK-12) with real business goals! This includes products, services, and artistic talents.

Let's connect you with resources and share your business journey with everyone in the Shawnee Mission School District community. When you tell your story, you get to help your business grow AND show other students that they can do it too.

Nice job sharing your story! We will reach out to your school to connect with you. This may take a few days. If you haven't heard back by next week, please let your teacher know.

Thank You to Our Supporters

Real World Learning thrives when community and schools collaborate to provide immersive experiences for students, while building a pipeline for future talent. For additional information about business partnerships, please contact Laura Harsch at

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