Niles North students market milkshake, take first-place wins at DECA

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A strawberry milkshake figured prominently in the efforts of two dozen young entrepreneurs from Niles North High School when they presented projects showcasing their business leadership at a national conference in Orlando April 22.

Niles North sent 24 students to the International Career Development Conference sponsored by DECA, an organization which focuses on preparing students for business fields like marketing, finance, hospitality and management.

While the Niles Township High School District 219 students did not achieve any wins at nationals April 22, they did well at the state level. A trio of seniors — Hafsa Feroz, Asal Ahmad and Ishika Mehta — took first place in the Project Management Sales event, held at the state competition in Rosemont last month.

A total of 59 students competed at the state conference, with two other first place finishes: sophomore Jack Jaminiski took first place in the Financial Consulting event and Salman Mehdi took first place in the Professional Selling event.

Feroz and Ahmad, both of Skokie, were two of a three-person team behind a milkshake stand called “DECAdent Delightz” that offered shakes with different toppings and mix-ins to Niles North students.

The project made $3,797 in profit that will go to fund trips, merchandise, scholarships and financial aid for students who might have a difficult time paying for DECA otherwise.

Feroz and Ahmad said they and marketing manager Ishika Mehta had been working together since July 2022 on the business. They estimated that they’d spent about 5,000 hours on the project from conceptualization to execution to working on their presentation for competitions.

“The most challenging part for us was probably working together and coming up with ideas as well as trying to implement it,” Feroz said.

Jean Attig, the Niles North DECA advisor, echoed Feroz’ point about learning to work together.

“They’re three very strong personalities, and they had to learn how to work together as a team,” she said of the trio.

Mehta was in charge of promoting the business to potential customers, using both traditional marketing methods and a battery of social media channels

“She had to try to get more customers by putting fliers up as well as running our Instagram Facebook page, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok,” Feroz said.

A TikTok video advertising the group’s strawberry milkshake shows a student worker putting together a shake and topping it with heath bar crumbles and bears the hashtags “shape your sweet tooth,” “join deca” and “choose business” among others.

Ahmad said she thought the group’s personal investment in the project and in one another would distinguish their presentation at the national competition.

“We took every moment that we could have and put it into the project [and] we built a strong friendship and connection with one another,” she said. “We knew how to work together and especially in our presentation, we mentioned how we really deeply care about our people.”