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Being a college student is difficult. There are assignments to focus on, extracurriculars to be involved in, jobs to allot time for and social lives to manage, but some students have even more to focus on — owning a business. Here are some businesses run by Quinnipiac University students who followed their passions, while still being a student.
McKenna Haz, a junior 3+1 advertising major and a member of the Quinnipiac rugby team, created her business, SEAAV Athletics, as a result of her final business project in one of her entrepreneurship classes, ENT 210, Intro Entrepreneurial Thinking.
“I knew I wanted to combine my passion for athletics with my love for the ocean,” Haz, who is from Vancouver Island, Canada, said. “Living on an island my entire life, I’ve always grown up by the sea. Unfortunately, (there is an) ever-growing single-use plastic pollution problem. I thought, ‘How cool would it be to turn these recycled bottles into something functional I can wear?’”
SEAAV, short for “Sea a Vision Athletics,” creates and manufactures ethical and sustainable apparel for “adventurous people,” according to Haz.
“We upcycle single-use materials that would otherwise contest landfills or destroy coastal habitats,” Haz said. “From leggings to sports bras, everything in our collection has post-consumer water bottles spun into each piece.”
SEAAV started out as a “passion project” for Haz.
“When I wasn’t at practice or doing school work, I’d be creating my website and doing design work on the side,” Haz said.
The company officially launched this year on Feb. 29, right before the COVID-19 pandemic. Haz said that SEAAV products have been sold in over 10 different countries, and it has approximately 150 ambassadors from around the world.
“We have gotten orders pretty much every day on our online store since we launched,” Haz stated in a direct message. “We have partnered with boutiques/yoga studios in New York City, New Jersey, California, Florida, Connecticut and Boston.”
According to Haz, SEAAV’s first collection diverted over 68,000 recycled water bottles from entering landfills into apparel and has ordered its second collection that will launch in the spring.
In the future, Haz hopes to continue to make a difference and expand the business.
“My future goal is to have multiple collections, participate in ocean cleanups all around the world and divert millions of post consumer single-use plastics into our products,” Haz said.
Designs by Suzanne
After making and selling her own jewelry in high school, junior occupational therapy (OT) major Suzanne Hall realized her hobby could be something more.
“In my sophomore year of high school, I wanted to find a creative hobby that I could share with other people and one day tried to make jewelry,” Hall said. “I started selling my jewelry to my classmates at school and word spread quickly because so many girls liked my products. I had no idea how successful it would be.”
Her business, Designs by Suzanne, sells homemade necklaces, bracelets, anklets, rings and earrings made from different materials such as tassels, chains, charms and beads.
“I wanted to create jewelry that was affordable and in a style customers would like,” Hall said. “I spend hours searching for the best quality products and materials that are also reasonably priced to create fashionable and trendy merchandise.”
Hall found it difficult to dedicate a lot of time to her business until the pandemic hit, so in April, she started selling jewelry on her Instagram page.
“I created my Instagram account with pictures of some of my inventory,” Hall said. “Now I have nearly 3,000 followers. Many of my friends from school encouraged me to create an Etsy page so I could have my business on another platform.”
According to Hall, she has made about 130 sales on Etsy, an e-commerce website that focuses on handmade, vintage and craft items, and hundreds others through Instagram and word of mouth. Other organizations have reached out through Instagram to do giveaways.
“I also teamed up with organizations such as Penn State Alpha Delta Pi, Quinnipiac Circle of Sisterhood and Quinnipiac Tri Delta to help fundraise for their charities,” Hall said.
Eventually, Hall hopes to expand and sell in local stores and continue to fundraise with organizations. She also hopes to “have workshops to show younger girls how to make their own jewelry.”
“What started as a hobby for me and a way to make a little extra money as a teenager became a small business that I’m proud of,” Hall said. “… This has all been a life experience and lessons that I will be able to use when dealing with OT patients or if I ever start my own practice someday.”
WaxingCrescent Wax Melts
Senior OT major Jessica Winstanley recently created her wax melts business, WaxingCrescent Wax Melts, after wanting to find something fun to make.
“I saw a candle maker on Tik Tok,” Winstanley said. “I loved how relaxing it was to watch the wax melt and how beautiful the wax looked when it was formed into different shapes and styles.”
After Winstanley collected all of her materials, she experimented with different fragrances and color styles.
“I had a tragic fail with dye that turned out to be for soap, not candles,” Winstanley said.
When she was pleased with her products, she set up her Etsy shop and started advertising on Instagram. When starting her business, Winstanley used her personal Instagram account for her promotions, but recently, she created a business instagram account, @waxingcrescentmelts.
Winstanley uses soy wax, liquid candle dye and fragrance oils to make her melts that will be used in wax melters. She offers two different shapes — dinosaurs and cacti/succulents — and two colors — purple and green. Her two offered scents are strawberry and sage-citrus.
Since recently starting her business, Winstanley has made a handful of sales, mostly to people on campus. She just about broke even on her return on investment, meaning she made up what she spent on supplies through her business’s profit.
“I would love to have more people find my business and get the chance to enjoy my products,” Winstanley said. “I love making these wax melts and want to spread that love to others.”
Winstanley said that students living on campus can order her wax melts through Instagram and those living off campus can order through her Etsy shop.
“Candle wax melts are relaxing, smell delicious and add great ambiance to a room,” Winstanley said. “I hope people will see the joy and love I put into this craft.”
Art has always been a huge part of senior physical therapy major Megan Kaloukian’s life, so she eventually decided to make something more out of it.
“I’ve been passionate about art since I was little and I used to take art classes every week after school in addition to normal schooling,” Kaloukian said. “When I was in elementary school, one of the units we did in class was on calligraphy and I remember immediately loving it.”
In high school, Kaloukian rediscovered this love and created an Instagram page to showcase her work. Eventually, she turned this into a business — Kaloukian Calligraphy.
“I began doing wedding calligraphy and making custom calligraphy-related gifts for clients,” Kaloukian said.
Kaloukian took this business a step further during quarantine and opened up a sticker shop on July 2.
“I spent weeks coming up with unique designs, researching how to cut stickers with a special machine and gathering up all of the materials I needed,” Kaloukian said. “The night before the launch, I stayed up all night printing hundreds of stickers.”
Since July 6, Kaloukian has made over $1,600 in sales from her sticker shop and $700 from calligraphy-related work.
“I’ve made wedding signs and decor, designed tattoos, created custom stickers for other businesses,” Kaloukian said. “… I have a wedding booked for May 2021, and I’ll be making table numbers, invitations and a seating chart … I am currently working on more large-scale projects with other companies.”
Along with those products, Kaloukian realized that by owning a business, she has a responsibility to help shed light on issues going on in the world. She has sticker designs that are donated to certain organizations.
“I have ‘Black Lives Matter’ stickers that will be donated to a BLM fund as well as many Armenian-themed stickers that’s profits are all being donated to help rebuild Armenia’s border villages,” Kaloukian said. “We’ve raised over $500 in just a few weeks for these charities, and I’m so happy I can help make a difference.”
Scrunchies by Katie
Katie Dansereau, a senior 3+1 media studies major, owns Scrunchies by Katie, a business that sells homemade scrunchies and headwraps.
Dansereau created this business after she tried sewing. It officially launched in July 2019.
“I was trying to learn how to sew, and I started with easier tasks like making scrunchies,” Dansereau said. “Over the summer, I decided to try and sell scrunchies for some extra cash and to use up some of the fabric I had.”
According to Dansereau, most of her customers are from her hometown, Cromwell, Connecticut, but she also has received support from Quinnipiac students. She’s also collaborated with Club Hole in the Wall.
“We sold scrunchies in the student center and a third of the profits went to a camp benefiting terminally ill children,” Dansereau said.
As of now, Dansereau’s main focus is on her schoolwork, but she is considering working with new materials and making masks. In March, Dansereau made masks and gave them to customers for free to help keep them safe amid the pandemic.
“I would definitely consider restarting selling masks when thinking of the state of our country right now,” Dansereau said.
People interested in buying a product from Scrunchies by Katie should message her on the business’s Instagram account, @scrunchiesbykatie.
Jazmyn Illes-Rivera, a senior health science studies major, launched her business after she found a love for beading.
“When I was a kid, my aunt gave me all of her old beading supplies, and I recently found them all in my basement and started to pick it up again,” Illes-Rivera said. “After realizing that I really enjoyed it, I decided to open an Etsy shop.”
Her business, Bulldog Beading, which is named after her American bulldog, opened up on Etsy in July, but Illes-Rivera has been making her products since last fall. According to Illes-Rivera, the pandemic helped her with her business as she had more free time.
“A lot of my first sales were from family and friends, which was nice for the support, but I needed to get out there to people I didn’t know,” Illes-Rivera said.
Illes-Rivera started to advertise on Instagram and Facebook more to reach a new audience and has since been averaging two sales a week. She spent time taking photos of her products and buying a mini scale and bubble mailers for the shipping process.
In the future, Illes-Rivera is hoping to participate in craft shows and help with fundraisers for organizations by donating a percentage of her business’s earnings.
“For me, this has been an awesome opportunity to express some creativity, occupy time and even make some extra money while I’m in college,” Illes-Rivera said. “I can’t wait to see how it takes off in the future.”