It is an upgrade from the usual scissors and superglue. A power drill, impact drill, circular saw, jigsaw, and sander can all be found in the crafting toolbox of Nikki Freed, a junior technical theater major. This is all a part of her arsenal to make money—online.
“I run my business out of my apartment where I have my machine set up, I have all my power tools,” Freed said.
Freed owns an Etsy shop called Geekeryandsuch where she sells cosplay pieces like wigs, clothes, props and embroidery. Her store caters to cosplayers, a community of people who enjoy dressing up as their favorite characters from anime shows, television, films and video games.
What really drives revenue for students like Freed is throwing themselves in front of the public eye. Whether it’s chatting up dozens of people, posting that promotional Instagram post or even just finally setting up an eBay shop, students are profiting from the simple act of doing. It doesn’t require a think tank or an elaborate plan to become an entrepreneur.
The wallets of several Chapman students prove that doing, rather than thinking, has benefitted them. They don’t go about their businesses recklessly, but are neither waiting for that one “green light” to hit the jackpot.
Freed doesn’t stress too much over her marketing strategy—instead, she relies on her passion for the craft and uses herself as her business’s billboard. Freed claimed the most important business move is putting your work out there—which she literally applies by wearing her outfits to conventions, hotspots for her targeted customers. But it’s not all for business.
“I try to go to [conventions] as much as possible. It’s mainly for fun,” Freed said. “I love going with my best friend and we just kind of cosplay and hang out, get some pictures taken and buy cool things that we don’t need.”
Flaunt it to make people want it
Juliane Corpus, a junior kinesiology major, also practices Freed’s marketing strategy. Like Freed, Corpus wears her products on the street to clue people in on her Etsy shop, 2LitKnits. But Corpus attracts a customer base comprised primarily of people she knows.
“A lot is word of mouth,” Corpus said.
Instead of marketing her products at conventions or special events, Corpus wears her trademark crocheted halter tops around her peers. This strategy works for Corpus—it’s all just about inserting yourself where your intended customers are.
Corpus’ natural approach to her business translates to how she started it. She just wanted to make something—picking up a knitting needle was a move to fill up Corpus’ time, not her wallet.
“I was really bored and I hated knitting,” Corpus said, recalling her first time attempting to knit. “I got knitting needles and I was like ‘Alright let’s try this out.’ It just did not work out.”
Then Corpus saw a classmate crocheting. Since knitting could not satisfy Corpus’ crafting itch, she went to Jo-Ann the same day. With her new crochet tools in hand, Corpus said she could not stop.
Corpus picked up a hobby on a whim and turned it into a paid business. She is not too worried about practicing your craft before selling it.
“Honestly just do it. Who cares,” Corpus said. “Everyone wants something and you can provide that service.”
No experience necessary
Sometimes, making money off of clothes does not require any skills at all. Katy Henderson, a junior business major, does not make the clothes she sells online—she just wears them. Henderson sells her used clothing on eBay and the resell website Poshmark.
Even though Henderson can not put her items as much out there compared to Corpus and Freed, she still knows how to reach more customers. For Henderson, it’s about the products themselves. She refuses to resell clothes that are from stores like Forever 21.
“[People] won’t be like ‘Oh, I want this blue shirt,’ they’ll be like ‘Oh, I want this Free People thing,’” Henderson said.
Instead of making what customers want, Henderson supplies it. It is about putting yourself at the end of a customer’s search party to attract individuals to a business, especially if it is an obscure online store.
Whether it’s attending an anime convention, walking around a college campus or selling specifically Lululemon leggings online, no advertising strategy is too out there when it comes to business over the Internet.