Spaghetti sauce, posters and clothes: Students promote small businesses

Katie Langley, Associate News Editor

Liana Testa, a senior international business major at Quinnipiac University, brought her family’s 20-year-old pasta sauce recipe into the modern era by creating an e-commerce-based company to sell sauce by the jar.

Today, the Connecticut-based company Testa’s Sauce, sells four different types of sauces. Attendees of the student business pop-up shop event had an opportunity to try it for themselves on March 9.

“We just really wanted to grow our network and sell it online,” Testa said. “So ever since then, I was like, ‘What better way to sell it online than to sell directly to customers?’”

‘Love Someone Today,’ owned by sophomore entrepreneurship major Kat Storey (left), aims to spread awareness about mental health through clothing and stickers. (Nicole McIsaac)

Han Biondo, a junior health science studies major, was among the students who sampled the wares of the small businesses tabling at the event sponsored by the People’s United Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Biondo tried Testa’s vodka sauce with penne pasta.

“I mean, you can’t go wrong with pasta,” Biondo said.

Biondo also bought a jacket from Al’s Articles, a second-hand custom clothing business built around ethical sourcing, that was tabling at the event.

“Every time (Al’s Articles) comes (to campus) I need to run to her because she has the best thrifts ever,” Biondo said about Allison Demirjian, the owner of Al’s Articles.

Demirjian, a fifth-year MBA graduate student, said that she started regularly shopping at thrift stores in college. The hobby turned into a business during the pandemic, with its main platform on Instagram at @als_articles.

“Whenever I go into a thrift store, it’s just whatever speaks to me,” Demirjian said. “And then if I see a piece and I have an idea, I go home and experiment a little bit and try to turn it into something new.”

Another display packed with colorful vintage clothing was Hardcore Hippy, owned by senior entrepreneurship major Faith Ramadon. At the event, she sold 1990s-era outfits and what she called “eccentric, weird oddities,” such as band posters.

Ramadon said that she sees her business as an antique store, which appeals to many generations. Hardcore Hippy can be found on Depop and Instagram.

“I figured, we’re at college, so if I was walking by and I saw a Korn poster, I’d be like ‘All right, I like this, I’m gonna put that up in my dorm room right now,’” Ramadon said.

The PUCIE hosted its first pop-up shop in December 2021 after a student business owner shared with the organization that she had little opportunity to showcase her products on campus.

Patrice Luoma, director of the PUCIE, said that the event’s goal was to create a “culture of innovation and entrepreneurship” and help students grow their business ideas.

“If someone comes to me and says, ‘I have an idea, but then I don’t know what else to do with it,’ I can help them take their idea and (go) through the steps that they need to actually turn it into something that they can use,” Luoma said.

NiasEarringsEtc was another business drawing crowds at the event. Its owner, senior graphic design and interactive major Nia Braccidiferro, sells everything from jewelry to stickers on Etsy and Instagram.

“It started out as a side project in quarantine,” Braccidiferro said. “And now it’s just something that keeps me busy, because I’m creative and I like to use my graphic design skills and I’m a hands-on person.”

Braccidiferro’s entrepreneurship professor informed her of the event.

“I love seeing all these different booths, and I can’t wait to go explore and meet fellow business people,” Braccidiferro said.

Samantha Primavera, a first-year athletic training and physical therapy double major, bought earrings from Braccidiferro’s business as well as a thrifted sweater and a T-shirt from Love Someone Today, a company run by sophomore entrepreneurship major Kat Storey.

“(The event is) a mood lifter,” Primavera said. “My suitemates and I were walking by and it was like, ‘woah.’ We had to do a double take and walk backwards. It’s definitely one of those things that I think we should do more on campus.”

Storey said that her business’s goal is to spread positivity and awareness about mental health by selling clothing and stickers that say “Love Someone Today.”

“For me, it’s just nice to have a reminder that there’s always going to be someone that’ll love you, you’re not alone in this world,” Storey said. “I’m an athlete here and I’ve been an athlete my whole life, and for athletes a lot of the time it’s hard when you have so much pressure on you and it’s a lot of mental health struggles.”

Storey said that she plans on making her business into a nonprofit that benefits mental health causes. For now, customers can spread awareness by wearing and displaying their merchandise bought at

When it comes to supporting student business, Biondo said events like the pop-up shop make shopping small more accessible.

“I’m just stopping at everyone’s (tables) to support them all,” Biondo said.