A Michigan City High School student with career goals in the fashion world, is hoping to catch her lucky break next month, Michigan City Area Schools says. Simara Jenkins, a junior at MCHS junior is pitching her business plans to the Society of Innovators at Purdue University Northwest.

Jenkins, who plans to graduate early, was selected to participate in the Innovate WithIN Region 6 Finals in April. She was chosen, along with 10 other Northwest Indiana teams, from among more than 400 applicants to be in the finals. 

Innovate WithIN is a high school pitch competition hosted by Purdue University Northwest and the Society of Innovators at PNW.  It allows high school students from across the state to pitch their entrepreneurial idea and collaborate with innovators to help turn their business from a dream into a reality.

Her business, “SimaraJae Creations” now has a website, TikTok followers, and an Etsy business page to sell her products.  Jenkins gives a lot of credit to social media for helping to launch and expand her business – especially after a fellow student posted about SimaraJae on TikTok.

“She was wearing a pair of leggings I made and it went viral with 50,000 views.  I woke up the next morning to a bunch of new views and followers,” Jenkins said.  “I got like 30 order off that one video.”

Jenkins learned about PNW’s Innovate WithIN competition through an email from MCHS Co-Principal Kyle Dean, and decided to present her business to the experts.  She compared the competition to “Shark Tank” as she described the rigorous process of creating a business plan, creating a slideshow and video, and preparing for the Finals next month.

While she is currently enrolled in the Criminal Justice program at the A.K. Smith Career Center, Jenkins said her pursuit of a career as a lawyer is now a back-up plan.  Instead, she hopes to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and become a fashion designer.

The Innovate WithIN Region 6 Finals take place on April 18 at the PNW Hammond Campus with a chance of winning $1,000 and advancing to the state finals.  

Jenkins already has her eye on the top prize of $25,000 in business funding.  If she happens to win the state’s top prize in this competition, her first goal is to buy a new sewing machine … “a nice one – and lots of fabric,” she said, “and I might take my business out of my bedroom.”