Maple Woods student embraces entrepreneurship

Trisha Hartman stands with business instructor and mentor Geoff Heathcock in front of display in the Maple Woods Bookstore.

Five years ago, Trisha Hartman began a project that has since turned into her passion – making molded soaps in her home and selling the results of her hobby to friends and church members. Today, she has steered her hobby into a successful local business, and plans to continue to grow it through the business classes she’s taking at Maple Woods.

Along with being a part-time Maple Woods student, Trisha is also a veteran of the United States military. After leaving the military, she was unsure of exactly what she wanted to do, only that she wanted to go into business for herself full-time. She applied for Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities this summer, a privately-funded program that gives returning veterans the skills to start up their own businesses, whether or not they have had previous training. After going through a long, rigorous application process, Trisha was accepted to the program: a month-long online course and a week of hands-on training at Florida State University.

“In one week, you basically learn everything there is to know about starting a business and how to market it,” said Trisha, who earned 80 continuing education units upon completion of the program, and a diploma to symbolize her hard work. Because she completed the boot camp successfully, she was eligible to attend the 2nd Annual Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans Conference in Denver, Colorado this October.

Trisha has made excellent use of the information she’s learned since her first boot camp in July. She’s a part-time student, has a part-time job at the HyVee in Liberty, Mo., and works full time for herself as owner and visionary of Stargazer Natural Products, LLC. She’s expanded her products from the molded soaps she began with to include soaps, lotions, lip balm, bath salt, diaper rash ointment and more, all with one important upgrade: her products are now all-natural, using only essential oils and earth-friendly products.

And she couldn’t have done it without the help of her business instructor and mentor Geoff Heathcock.

“He’s done so much for me, from talking to me after class to teaching me things I need to know,” she said. “He’s been a really great mentor.”

The MCC-Maple Woods faculty and staff aren’t the only ones who have taken notice of Trisha’s successful business venture, either. Missouri Senator Luann Ridgeway recently congratulated Trisha on her success.

Her products are currently available in the Liberty HyVee location and the Maple Woods Bookstore, but thanks to some new product labels and barcode system, she’ll be reaching out to other HyVee stores in the Kansas City area as well. Grateful for the opportunity given to her when she returned from the military, Trisha now donates 10% of her sales back to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Anyone interested in Trisha’s products can find her on Facebook under Stargazer Natural Products (Like her page!) or email her at StargazerNaturalProducts@gmail.com.