When junior art major Carleigh Stokes moved from Elkridge to the Eastern Shore to attend Salisbury University in 2019, she decided to use her proximity to the beach resort of Ocean City to pursue a new hobby: surfing.
She could not have imagined then that her passion for catching waves would result in her winning more than $19,500 in cash and prizes during Salisbury University’s annual Franklin P. Perdue School of Business Entrepreneurship Competitions for SU students.
Her victory included the 35th annual Bernstein Achievement Award for Excellence, denoting the competitions’ top entry.
Judges applauded Stokes’ business plan for Stoked Surf Wax, a project that stemmed from an assignment she received through a graphic design course at SU.
Tasked with using the skills she learned in the class to create packaging for a fictional product, she decided on one that aligned with her hobby: surf wax, an adhesive that helps surfers connect their feet with their boards.
Earlier this year, when she began what she called her “dream internship” with the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society in Hampton Bays, N.Y., she learned that the paraffin-based surf wax used by many of her contemporaries was potentially harmful to some marine life. With a package design already created, she decided to combat this by making her own blend of scented organic surf wax, created with a less toxic beeswax base.
So far, the product has tested well with her fellow surfers. She hopes to place her organic wax in area surf shops and potentially expand it into a lifestyle brand, such as Billabong, Quicksilver and Roxy.
For now, however, she plans to use her Entrepreneurship Competition winnings to purchase a print-and-cut machine, speeding packaging production and allowing opportunities for more consumer feedback before offering her wax for public sale.
In addition to the $15,000 Bernstein Award, Stokes received $1,000 by advancing in the first round of competitions, the “Invest in My Idea” poster presentation. She also placed first in the second round of the competitions, the “Gull Cage,” earning an additional $2,500, and was selected as the recipient of this year’s $1,000 SU Diversity Award.
In all, some 23 teams and individuals participated in this year’s competition, with many, like Stokes, representing SU academic schools and colleges beyond the Perdue School.
Placing second in the Bernstein round was Bale Out, a construction and warehouse worker safety app proposed by information systems major Chibuzo Opaigbeogu of Upper Marlboro and accounting major Anthony Calabrese of Annapolis. They earned some $11,000 in cash and prizes, including $5,000 in cash and $5,000 in services from BEACON in the Bernstein round, and $1,000 cash in the “Invest in My Idea” round.
The Extractor, a mechanical device for installing and removing concrete pavers while lessening physical strain on workers, placed third in the Bernstein round. The business plan earned its inventor, Sam Brookbank, an economics major from Mechanicsville who also placed in last year’s Bernstein round, some $8,500 in cash and prizes, including $5,000 from the Bernstein round, $1,000 from the “Invest in My Idea” round and the James A. List Award ($2,500 in legal services).
Bernstein finalist Steven Tayman, a business administration and management major from Severn, proposed Brigade Battery, a lighter, longer-lasting and more versatile lithium-ion marine battery that could supplant existing lead-acid batteries in recreational watercraft. He earned $1,000 in cash during the “Invest in My Idea” round and the James A. List Award ($2,500 in legal services) for a total prize package of some $3,500.
In addition to the four finalists, 11 other business plans received $1,000 each during the “Invest in My Idea” round. Cash awards for this round were provided by judges and supporters of the competition. They included:
• Aisle (grocery store directory app) – Mikayla McQuay, Forest Hill
• Art by Ally (art shop) – Allison Jones, Bishopville, (also received the City of Salisbury Award: $3,000 in cash and $2,000 in services)
• Coastal Creations Events + Pastries (event planning) – Lindsay Jones, Bishopville
• Maggie Daily (lifestyle website for girls and women ages 13-30) – Margaret Sanders, Catonsville (also received the $1,000 Salisbury Wicomico Economic Development Award)
• Noodle (silicone face mask strap) – Zainab Aslam, Federalsburg; Bernadette Blocher, Taneytown; Kenzie Fulton, Severna Park; Katharine Hart, Greenbush, Va.; Katelyn Marshall, Hebron; and Tori-Ann Moorman, Silver Spring (also received the $5,000 CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Medical Award)
• Power PB&J (high-protein peanut butter and jelly options) – Brianna Dell, Warwick