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Part-time student, part-time entrepreneur: how to run a business in college

<p>Students beat quarantine boredom by creating and selling fashion pieces out of their dorms. </p>

Students beat quarantine boredom by creating and selling fashion pieces out of their dorms.

When first-year Taylor Shockley found herself trapped at home for the foreseeable future, she, like many Miami University students, quickly began to fall back on projects that might have otherwise been put on the back burner.

One hobby Shockley found she had a passion for was finding ways to remain eco-friendly.

“Sustainability has always been a big part of who I am, so I wanted to be able to make a bigger difference in my daily life,” Shockley said. “I wanted to learn how to repurpose items that would otherwise be wasted.”

Shockley, a marketing and sustainability double major, specializes in making vintage-style necklaces, particularly those in the style of various iconic fashion brands. Her bestsellers are pendants made from repurposed buttons embellished with the iconic Chanel logo.

“I really believe in repurposing clothes and jewelry and moving the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction,” Shockley said. “I think it’s important to use every piece of an item before you buy something new.”

Shockley makes her necklaces by first removing the buttons from the original article of clothing before attaching a necklace loop to the back and placing them on a chain. She typically charges around $40 for each piece.

“All the materials I use are silver, from the button itself to the loop and the chain,” Shockley said. “So I make my prices based on the materials I use.”

Though she typically uses Depop, a popular reselling app that allows users to buy and sell clothing and accessories, Shockley personally delivers any pieces she sells to Miami students. She also sells clothing she finds at thrift stores on her Depop (@taylorrshockley), as well as any pieces she no longer wears. 

“I want to make an impact in my own carbon footprint on the Earth,” Shockley said. “The fashion industry’s impact on climate change is real, and I’m hoping that my small store can help me reduce my carbon footprint and encourage others to do the same.”

Other Miami students are using their own creative abilities to turn a profit. Gillian Arnold, a senior individualized studies major with a concentration in small business management and global wine studies, runs a baking business out of her apartment.

“It’s definitely a challenge, running a business at school,” Arnold said. “I’m from California, so really everything I bring with me from home has to be able to make it on a plane. I’ve been lugging my Kitchen Aid mixer through airports for four years now.”

Arnold is the sole owner of GillyCakes, where she specializes in putting an artistic twist on traditional cakes and cupcakes. Her cakes are often highly elaborate, with detailed frosting and fondant decorations.

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“I love that I have something I’m really passionate about that also puts a smile on other people’s faces,” Arnold said. “Even before I began GillyCakes, I was making several cakes a month just for family and friends.”

In addition to juggling her business and her coursework, Arnold is an active member of Gamma Phi Beta, as well as Advancing Women in Entrepreneurship. 

“I’ve always really struggled with time management and how that factors into knowing my worth,” Arnold said. “Things can get really overwhelming at times. I’ve always struggled with knowing my worth while running my business because I can’t just charge people the cost for ingredients, I have to put a price on my time. And that’s a really hard thing to do.”

With graduation in just a few months, Arnold hopes to move back to California and find work in the wine industry. But she doesn’t plan to give up GillyCakes anytime soon.

“I’m not hanging up my apron just yet,” Arnold said. “I still plan on baking for fun, and GillyCakes will probably be my side hustle forever. Unless my dream of opening a bakery-by-day, wine-bar-by-night comes true.”