FILLING UP THE EMPTY TIME

Student entrepreneurs decide to pursue business ventures during their time in isolation.

Quarantine routine: Wake up. Have breakfast. Morning Zoom. Lunch. Afternoon Zoom. Dinner. Scroll through Tiktok. Sleep. 

And repeat. And repeat.

Over and over again.  

But sophomore PR & Advertising major Kendall Kearnan decided to break that routine. She got out of her social rut and put her artistic energy into something productive that could help her make a few extra bucks: resin earrings. She started making more and created an Etsy shop to sell her stash.

Sophomore PR & Ad major Kendall Kearnan. Photo courtesy of Kearnan.

Kearnan is not alone. Many Chapman students have used this spare time to work on their passion projects and start small businesses as a means of filling their time (and for a few students, filling their pockets too.)

In fact, according to CPA Practice Adviser, 70% of college graduates would prefer to work for themselves and 53% are likely to start their own businesses. Launchpad, a national student support group, shows in a pandemic survey that more than three-quarters of college students interested in entrepreneurship “accelerated their business plans because of Covid-19.”

During the early days of the stay at home order, junior graphic design major Sarit Ashkenazi started her business, Star Shine, with her sister, Ella. At that time, tie-dye sweat sets were becoming very popular, but they were extremely overpriced. So, Sarit and her sister decided to make their own.

“We made a couple sets for our friends and family too and they really really liked them and so we thought of making it something from there,” said Ashkenazi. “It kind of just grew by word of mouth.”

After getting positive feedback from their friends and family, they decided to launch an Instagram account. It grew so quickly that they had to keep up by making a website for it and they started expanding to other tie-dye items, like scrunchies and bandanas.

Tie-Dye Sweatshirts, Scrunchies and Bandanas by Star Shine.

“My entire life, from when I was a little kid, I loved starting little businesses, and I loved using my creativity,” she said. “So, it seemed like now was the perfect time to start our business and make something out of these difficult and challenging times.”

Sophomore theatre performance major Brady Gustas recently began a novel genre podcast with his friends, fellow sophomores Tony Vargas and Feras Halabi. The three friends thought this new reality of isolation, boredom, and political turmoil was the perfect time to start a game show podcast–Fake News Channel

Fake News Channel Podcast Cover.

According to Gustas, they, “wanted to find a creative outlet that was original, doable while in a pandemic, and even slightly educational.” These students’ drive, coupled with their love of humor like The Onion’s, inspired them to start their shared podcast.

Fake News Channel is out weekly and is a recording of a unique contest between the boys. Within the different rounds, they have to narrow down which headlines are true and which are made up, with space in between questions where the guys talk about life and crack jokes.

Sophomore dance and PR and Ad major Rylee Takahashi has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but she’s upgraded her high school days of making custom phone cases and began making custom jewelry last December. After encouragement from her friends she started Icy Girly Ry Ry in the beginning of 2020, and already, she’s processing up to 300 orders a day. 

Jewelry by Icy Girly Ry Ry.

Her strategy for ensuring well-loved products is to get the customer to come to her. Because of this, all her orders are custom pieces and made to order. Though it’s occasionally harder to find pieces that fit the customers’ exact demands, she loves this tactic as it also gives her lots of creative jewelry.

Though Takahashi is grateful for the creative freedom and extra money her business has given her, she doesn’t prioritize her store above everything just yet. She said, “School comes first–especially being a double major. So, whenever I have the time, I can drop a new product at my own pace.”

“It’s always been a thing at the back of my mind and quarantine just motivated me to do it and sparked my creativity,” said Kearnan. 

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