Students pursue personal businesses

Cassie LaJeunesse, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor

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Hodapp’s favorite cake to decorate is a Pigs in Mud cake.

Last semester, professor of management Paula Englis taught an entrepreneurship class. Students in the class created businesses and learned important skills such as how to develop effective business strategies, how to build an organizational structure to implement these strategies and how to finance and market their business ventures. Englis suggests that students take advantage of the resources that they have while in school.

“Take entrepreneurship classes, participate in Berry entrepreneurship events,” Englis said. “Leverage your faculty’s knowledge and contacts- whatever your area, there is probably a faculty member who has deep knowledge of the industry or field. Use that knowledge.”

According to Englis, Berry offers several resources to student entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurship center offers assistance with business plans, social media and website development, and Hackberry Lab can help with prototyping. 

“Student Work and the Career Center have some great seminars that will help you be a better business person,” Englis said.

Many Berry students are interested in entrepreneurship, and some have already started their own businesses.

Sophomore Jorie Hodapp started her business, JorieCakes, in eighth grade. 

“I tried babysitting, and that wasn’t for me, so I started baking cakes for friends and family and realized I could sell them,” Hodapp said.

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Walker meets with clients for a photo shoot.

She originally built her business when she lived in Ohio and sold cakes for birthdays and weddings. When her family moved to Georgia, she continued her business and said that business has increased this year.

While at Berry, Hodapp continues to run her business from her dorm room. She calls this part of her business JorieCakes Campus. She tries to bake two to four dozen cupcakes every Sunday, making the batter in her room and carrying everything down the hall to bake in Deerfield’s community kitchen. She then advertises through social media and delivers the cupcakes around campus.

“I wouldn’t trade (running a business) because I enjoy it, but it’s a lot to organize and make sure I get everything done,” Hodapp said.

At home over breaks, she sells full-sized cakes for birthdays and other special occasions. Her favorite cake that she’s made is called a Pigs in Mud Cake, which is decorated with Kit-Kat bars, melted chocolate and fondant pigs.

Freshman Harmony Petty started Harmony’s Crafty Creations as a freshman in high school. She originally made wreaths and other crafts, but transitioned to making t-shirts and decals. 

“I started scrapbooking when I was younger, so I had a Cricut (scrapbooking machine),” Petty said. “I was just playing around with it one day and thought ‘hm, what else can I do with this that I could sell and make money with?’”

While at Berry, Petty has an office in Green and is part of the entrepreneurship program. She also has a booth in her hometown of Calhoun, where she sells her merchandise and drops off custom orders. It did not take long for Petty’s business to break even, and she is now making a profit.

“Every time I switched items it was a little hard with start-up costs. But (it wasn’t hard) once I got past that,” Petty said.

Junior Anthea Phitides started Marula Market in June of 2017. She purchases handmade items while on faith-based mission trips in Guatemala and then resells them on Etsy. According to Phitides, the initial purchase of the items allows local artisans to support their families. 20 percent of the resale profits are donated to Light of the World Ministries, a group that distributes food and clothing to families in Guatemala.

“I have been involved with mission work in Guatemala for a while now,” Phitides said. “For this most recent trip, I really wanted to think about a way that I could sustainably create a program that would be able to help the people down there while combining my passion for entrepreneurship.”

For Phitides, it is often stressful to run her business while at school. She follows a notecard system in which she writes down three things that will progress her business every day to help keep herself on track. She plans to go back to Guatemala this summer and research the process that local artisans use to create their products. 

“Through that, I’m going to hopefully be in the process of setting up an entrepreneurship curriculum to be able to teach other women in the area how to make these things and create a sustainable model in that way,” Phitides said.

Senior Nina Kowalke started her business, Click Pop, with three peers as a student in Englis’ entrepreneurship class. She described the business as a Christian lifestyle brand. They sold graphic design prints at Mountain Day and on their website. 

“The three peers and myself that started it are all interested in graphic design, and we all pursue Christianity, so that was something really important to us to incorporate into our idea,” Kowalke said. “We were hoping to expand to more content creation and social media.” 

According to Kowalke, running her business as a project for the class was great motivation, but she was unable to continue this semester due to her class load. 

“It might have been easier if we weren’t also the designers, but we were running the business and designing the content.”

Sophomore Ben Walker started his photography and marketing business, Jamin Productions, somewhat by accident. In high school, Walker was asked to take senior pictures of one of his friends whose mom offered to pay him. After she posted the photos, he received requests from others.

“I’ve never really done any formal marketing, it’s just all been word of mouth,” Walker said.

His business grew from senior photos to wedding photos and videos, as well as branding and marketing. He wants to focus on the marketing aspect in the future.

“I think my niche is providing high-quality, professional video and marketing services to small brands who can’t really afford to go to a large marketing firm,” Walker said. “I have the ability to charge lower prices and still deliver high-quality content.”

According to Walker, running a business as a college student often means making sacrifices. He quit his on-campus jobs last semester in order to run his business. He also has to travel to some shoots and balance work and school.

“You have to be okay with saying ‘no’ to social things,” Walker said. “I remember one weekend I locked myself in my room and edited the entire weekend.”

Graduate student Devante Jones has plans to build his business, Bridging Education and Athletics Together (BEAT), after he graduates from Berry. He is partnering with his best friend from college to open a gym, hopefully in Chattanooga or Atlanta. The pair hopes to provide incentives, such as a discounted gym membership, for student athletes to excel in school and keep their grades up.

“I know it’s for a good cause, I just hope it’s well worth it,” Jones said. “I want to take a chance on it and put some smiles on faces.”

Currently, Jones hopes to look for investors for his business after finishing graduate school. He said that starting a business while in school is all about time management, and he looks forward to doing more research for the business after graduation.

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