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Eastern students are young entrepreneurs

Published on December 10, 2020

Eastern students are young entrepreneurs

Facebook, Dell computers, Google, Dropbox and Reddit were all started by college students in their dorm rooms. College students have also formed their own businesses in fields ranging from gyms to coffee shops, custom cookies, jewelry, glow-in-the-dark bicycles and landscaping companies. Eastern Connecticut State University is home to many students who are channeling their talents and entrepreneurial initiative to create and operate their own businesses.

Art by Safiya
Art by Safiya

Junior Safiya Palmer (English) runs a business called Art by Safiya, where she sells prints of her original paintings. https://okaysafiya.com/

About your business?

“My art incorporates Black women through portraits and body portraits to show the beauty of brown skin and add to the growing yet still underrepresented group of Black female artists and art works. Even before my website, which launched in November, I’ve been doing commissioned paintings where I draw specific images for customers upon their request. Soon I will be selling other products with my art on them such as stickers, hoodies and mugs.”

Challenges of starting a business?

“I have always wanted to sell my art, but I started actively trying to launch a website for well over a year now. It took a long time to choose a company to get high quality, yet affordable prints made. I also had to do a lot of research regarding packaging and shipping artwork, since it’s more fragile than regular products. Even though I’ve been painting for a few years, it took me a while to come up with the types of paintings I wanted on my website. Once all my research and painting were done, I bought all the supplies, ordered samples of the prints and started designing my website on Shopify.”

Goals as an entrepreneur?

“I hope to have my art in galleries and homes around the world and get commissions by big named people. This is the first of many businesses that I intend on opening. I hope this one paves the way for my career as an entrepreneur. I want to not just be successful in my own right, but also inspire other creative people to pursue their passions and not be afraid of failing, just because they’re not traditional jobs.”

Senior Jean Rienzo (sociology) runs a business called Daisy Bee’s, which sells personally designed buttons with a message of inclusivity and empowerment. www.daisybeesshop.etsy.com 

Daisy Bee's
Daisy Bee's

How did you get started?

“Daisy Bee's was inspired by my search for the perfect present for my best friend Afton. I wanted a feminist and funny button for her expansive collection but was disappointed by the selection and cost. It occurred to me that perhaps I could learn how they are made and do it myself! Through my research, I found that the startup costs were manageable, and decided to offer the designs I created with my friends and family for purchase on Etsy. The shop name is inspired by my daughter, Daisy B.”

The challenges of running a business?

“Probably the most striking issue with running a small business is the lack of clearly defined working hours. There is nothing to stop you from working through the night on a big order, or from slacking off on getting new listings done when you should. Flexibility sounds great but can really be an issue! It takes some time to gain traction and grow your visibility and sales. Depending on which platforms you use, many algorithms factor in prior sales and revenue in your placement in search results, which means bigger businesses are more likely to grow and smaller ones more likely to stay small. The first year is rough.”

Junior Jordan Chenette (secondary education and English) runs a business called A Matter of Taste, which specializes in hand-stitched koozies for iced coffee to absorb condensation. https://www.etsy.com/shop/AMatterofTasteShop

A Matter of Taste
A Matter of Taste 

How did you get started?

“I've wanted to start my own business for years, but I was always too scared to actually go through with it. When everything locked down in March and I was stuck at home, I decided to take my hobby of crocheting and get more serious about it. I only knew the bare minimum and could only make things that were square and done with one type of stitch, but I watched a bunch of videos to learn different stitches and how to read patterns.”

The challenges?  

“The biggest challenge of running a small business is time. I'm a full-time college student and I also hold another part-time job at a community college, so I don't have as much time as I would like to work on my shop. I'm very excited for winter break so I can catch up on some book-keeping and introduce some new products into my shop. I have so much that I want to do with it and not enough hours in the day!”

The Chasers
The Chasers

Sophomore Tyreice Woods (business administration) co-runs a clothing line called The Chasers Apparel, a brand founded by three young Black male entrepreneurs. https://www.thechasersapparel.com

About your business?

“The Chasers represents the hardworking man striving to achieve his goals. My partners and I wanted to inspire the City of Hartford to be creative so we decided to start a clothing brand. Clothes are a unique way of being creative; I look at it as an art.”

Your journey as a small business owner?

“Starting the business was easy — getting our LLC and tax registration. Then we had to find a vendor who could make our vision come to light. Dealing with vendors is one of the challenges because they sometimes make mistakes on the clothes, such as sizing and destroyed items.”     

Junior Olivia Wronka (new media studies) runs a business called DearDoniDesign, which melds her love of stickers with her talents as a digital artist. https://www.etsy.com/shop/DearDoniDesign?ref=seller-platform-mcnav

Dear Doni Design
DearDoniDesign

How did you get started?  

“As someone who enjoys customizing things and expressing themselves through art, stickers allow me to do both, and having the skills to create my own inspired me to open my very own sticker shop.”

The challenges? 

One of the challenges of running a small business is filling the shoes of every role needed in making the business a success. I am the creative director, marketing team, designer and finance department. Another challenge is fulfilling these roles efficiently.”

Goals as an entrepreneur?

“I opened my shop this past October, so I’m just at the beginning and want to expand my listings and gain new customers. As a new media studies student, I want to take the skills I have learned in my classes and apply them to my business. I plan on creating stickers using my art and digital drawings.”

Junior Pranav Thaker (business administration) co-runs a technology business called Unlimino LLC, which strives to “create products and services that deserve to be called innovative in a digital age.” Unlimino has been selected to partake in local start-up accelerator programs and consists of four friends from colleges across Connecticut; Thaker serves as the company’s marketing officer.

Unlimino

What is the mission of your company?

“Unlimino has one goal and that is to empower every person with digital tools to help them become more productive in a digital workspace. Unlimino plans to accomplish this goal with our first product MACRØ: a digital wingman that helps the user set and forget repetitive code, long and confusing shortcuts and overall simplify their workflow.”

The challenges?

Because of COVID, we had to figure out how best to transition to online meetings while also juggling the new online format for our college classes. Further, COVID restricted our ability to attend an in-person fellowship program over the summer. Regardless, we persevered in growing our network and furthering our knowledge of the business world.”

Sophomore Keyarra Smith (business administration) runs a small business called Handmade by Key, which sells handmade products like bracelets, lip gloss, keychains and more. https://www.facebook.com/HandmadeByKey01/

Handmade by Key
Handmade by Key

How did you get started?

“Before I started my business this past March, I was always interested in making and selling stuff. I used to sell bath bombs, lip scrubs and friendship bracelets in middle school and high school. Everything in my business is personally handmade by me.”

Rebel Wear
Rebel Wear

Junior Richard Thompson (computer science) has two entrepreneurial endeavors: a start-up marketing firm called Concept Design Group (CDG) and a faith-based clothing line called Rebel Wear Apparel. https://www.facebook.com/conceptdesigngroupct/; https://www.facebook.com/RebelWearApparel/ 

More about CDG?

“This was started by myself and two partners. We all owned our own businesses and came together to form CDG, which specializes in helping start-up and existing businesses fill or expand their marketing needs. We offer a wide variety of services and goods from custom apparel, business cards, banners, graphic design, logo creation, vehicle graphics, business consulting, social media management and more.”

More about Rebel Wear?

“I was inspired to start a clothing line that represented my faith, not just in design but in name recognition as well. I looked at the existing brands and felt there was a lack of representation for Christian clothing brands.”

Sophomore Megan Solensky (psychology and communication) runs a photography group called Eastern CT Photos. https://www.facebook.com/Eeasternctphotos

ECP

How did you get started?

“Through a seasonal job as a photographer at JCPenney Portraits, it became evident that people are extremely self-conscious and feel uncomfortable in situations like a photo session when the attention is solely on them. I was curious if there was a way to help people become more comfortable with themselves through photography, so I started my own photography group.”

How have you expanded your business?  

“I’ve done all my advertising through social media. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook (@easternctphotos). Word of mouth is also a huge part of how we generate clients because a big part of the brand is about the experience. I hope that when going through a photo session people gain more confidence in themselves and enjoy the experience as well as the final product.”

Black Fairy Co
Black Fairy Co

Freshman Nayeli Davis (health sciences) runs a business called Black Fairy, which sells handmade organic, cruelty free lip glosses. https://blackfairy.bigcartel.com 

How did you get started?

“I decided to start a business on natural cosmetics because I struggle to find products that work for me. My goal was to create a non-sticky, moisturizing lip gloss that healed lips. I use only organic oils that have beneficial properties while making my lip glosses. I even allow individuals to custom order their own lip glosses to their liking and use “cute” and appealing packaging. With every order I give out free items such as stickers and hair accessories as a thank you.”

 

Written by Bobbi Brown, Michael Rouleau, Ed Osborn

Categories: Student Activities