Interactive Girl Scout Stories from Ki Sung
Last weekend, I spoke with Kelly Crage, CMO of Accurate Forges, the first and only U.S. producer of pre-cast metals used in the construction of aerospace rockets. Accurate Forges has used recycled rocket weights to produce pre-cast steel components from metal that once found its way into the trash.
In 2016, Shannon’s father, J.P. Crage, passed away unexpectedly after a lengthy battle with cancer. She describes the challenges her family faced, beginning with the loss of J.P. They had decided to open a factory in their home town of Ithaca, New York. Since then, Shannon has worked hard to keep their entrepreneurship alive, and they still work with her father’s vision.
I spoke with Shannon about her success, her family’s journey, and the future of Accurate Forges.
First of all, what is your most memorable story from Girl Scouts?
The most memorable story is probably about 15 years ago, in eighth grade, when I learned to make cookies. My family was going through a really rough time, and I thought it would give me a sense of normalcy. Cookie sales have been great memories throughout my Girl Scout years.
You are very passionate about recycling. How did you come to know that your passion could help people?
Years ago, my dad, who passed away two years ago, was interested in the environment. In addition to our living in a location surrounded by nature, there were thousands of bottles and cans littered around the town, and that’s just not a good thing. I grew up in a house with that many junk in it because my mom has a mental health disorder, and when they couldn’t afford to fix our house, there was something they called “solid waste in our house.”
I’ve always been kind of passionate about the environment, and the past couple of years, recycling has given us a new lease on life. Recycling helped our company get off the ground. It’s given us a new purpose and real purpose.
So, why have you been interested in entrepreneurship?
I was interested in entrepreneurship at a young age because there’s nothing like having a dream. They talk about having a passion for something when you’re 7-years-old. I remember I said, “I want to do it. I want to make money.” That’s how I’ve been all my life. In the past, working in stores, I saw the actual owners lose their livelihood very young. I saw my mom and dad go through hard times as well, and I wanted to help them, so I worked as a cashier in the store.
You ended up starting an online business at 18 years old. That is incredible. Why do you think that is important?
I saw some teenage entrepreneurship on social media and wanted to see for myself if it was a viable way to work and run a business. It was a fun, social experience for me, and a good opportunity to network with like-minded people. One of my best friends at the time was working for Tyco International, and she did a great job at finding her own revenue streams and growing her business.
Then, I decided to work at the Small Business Development Center, and even today, I volunteer there. We have had a class about personal finances, and I always have a personal finance tip every semester, such as, “Don’t shop until you’re ready to pay for everything, but start out with a small budget.” I’ve also worked at a credit union, and they have given me a great sense of entrepreneurship.
What has been the biggest takeaway from your experience being in Girl Scouts?
It was a sense of purpose for me. As a girl, you understand the importance of pursuing your dreams, but it was a nice way to make a living. It teaches you how to work hard, and it prepares you for a potential future for self-discovery.
I see my daughter all the time, and I know a big part of her is because of Girl Scouts. As a parent, she reminds me that I should go into engineering, or to Business or Medicine or something, which is the goal of every generation.
As we invest in our youths, I think there’s an enormous impact on society, and our youth’s success will help us to be more successful as a society.
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