Some students get jobs and join clubs to enhance their college experience, but a number of students have taken their hobbies and passions and established full-fledged businesses.
Public relations senior Reagan Chauncy started her business, Callisto Ray, in August 2019 after teaching herself to silversmith.
“It started out as a creative outlet because we all need to have a way to express ourselves,” Chauncy said. “There’s definitely challenges . . . It takes up a lot of my time, but I would never go back.”
Following a vacation to Arizona just over one year ago, Chauncy switched from producing macrame crystal necklaces to silversmithing with semiprecious stones such as moonstone, turquoise and lapis.
To maintain a balance between her business and school, Chauncy scheduled all of her classes on two days of the week and spends most of her free time silversmithing.
Chauncy dedicates full days to silversmith and said one ring can take anywhere from 3-8 hours, but she thinks the creative freedom justifies the strenuous work.
“I can hit the hammer into the metal and make a mark and have something unique and different,” Chauncy said. “It’s more than just a piece of metal on someone’s finger.”
Chauncy said the pandemic allowed her more time to focus on making jewelry. However, the temporary shutdown of art shows generated obstacles in reaching customers.
To adapt the changes, Chauncy turned to social media and used the knowledge she gained from her major to continue growing her business, even managing to become involved with MidCity Makers Market, one of the largest art shows in the Baton Rouge Area.
Other students have also taken advantage of social media to start their own businesses.
Fashion merchandising junior Carmen Brand currently runs her online business, Deep Blue Boutique, out of her guest room. She saw a growth in her following amid the pandemic.
“The pandemic — and I hate saying this — has really helped my business because everyone has been shopping online because no one wants to go out,” Brand said.
Brand’s virtual classes allow her more time and motivated her to persevere in the creation of her website and the promotion of her brand.
To remain debt-free, Brand abstained from taking out loans and instead funds her business with the money she earns at a part-time job.
“It is very rewarding, but its very tiring and discouraging when things do not work out the way I think they will,” Brand said. “At the end of the day, I am proud to say that I’m 20 years old doing this by myself.”
Brands said she carries products from the same wholesalers for popular stores like Blu Spero and Frock Candy, but in the past, she has received false accusations that her stock is lower quality because of its lower prices.
“There’s a ton of obstacles to go through, but I just have to keep reminding myself of who I am, where I came from and that this is my dream,” Brand said.
Many students utilize knowledge gained from classes and expand their businesses through social media platforms.
History senior Cora Barhorst began Cora B Gallery in December 2018 after making almost $2000 selling her art during the holiday season and has since developed a business model, designed newsletters and planned professional photoshoots to promote her business.
“When quarantine hit, I had nothing to do but school all day, so I thought I should take this to the next level,” Barhorst said.
Although the pandemic complicated the process of acquiring some of her supplies, such as circular canvases, Barhorst has created a new series and developed multiple professional connections to boost her art.
Barhorst said she is involved with two galleries, New Orleans’ own Speakeasy Art and the London-based online gallery, Decoralist.
“It’s pretty amazing to have your own name out there and it be your work especially as an artist versus any other business,” Barhorst said. “It’s almost addicting. There’s a lot of pride that comes from having your business.”