By C. Aileen Blaine
While juggling busy schedules and heavy course loads, some students at Youngstown State University have found the time to run their own small businesses. They agree it’s not easy, but the payoffs are what make the experience worth it.
Kayla Venters, a business administration junior, paints and crochets. In 2017, with the encouragement and help of her friends, she began selling her paintings and crocheted pieces on commission and request.
“I’ve always been a drawer, so it came naturally when I started painting,” Venters said. “Funny thing, I took an art class and hated it. I didn’t like them telling me what to do, I like my freedom.”
When it comes to balancing being both a student and running a small business, Venters said she splits her work between semester breaks: crocheting blankets during winter and painting portraits during summer.
Venters is currently in the process of developing a new business called The Metric, which will expand businesses and help individuals within the community. She said she wants to promote Black businesses and develop classes for financial literacy.
In 2016 Ivan Bosnjak, information technologies and marketing sophomore, began an all-natural dog treat business with psychology major Brianna Morton. The business, named Sadie’s Tasty Treats after Morton’s dog, is something Bosnjak hopes will serve as a stepping stone towards a larger business in the future.
The pair have since expanded their business and now offer delivery to customers in the Youngstown area. They donate a portion of their sales to Animal Charity of Ohio at the end of each month. In August, Bosnjak and Morton were awarded the WYTV Hometown Heroes award.
While Morton is mostly responsible for making and selling the treats, Bosnjak runs the business’s e-commerce site and is in charge of marketing through ads on social media.
Bosnjak said students contemplating entrepreneurial endeavors should take action, particularly in e-commerce. He said while it may be difficult to juggle school work and business matters, time management can be a key component to success.
As far as his future entrepreneurial endeavors are concerned, he said he hopes to build up Sadie’s Tasty Treats.
“I’m going to own a business that’s going to be bigger than this one, but it’s a start,” Bosnjak said. “You have to start somewhere. This is the start of something bigger.”
Angela Lock, an integrated language arts senior, may have only had her business for a few weeks, but she’s already established it via her Etsy shop, Locked Studios. She said since the pandemic started, she’s sewn masks and made t-shirts to sell.
“I had nothing to do, so I just started making the masks,” Lock said. “And then I had so many masks, so I started to sell those.”
When it comes to finding time to make orders, Lock said she often will use her hour-long lunch breaks to sew, or will wait until the weekend. She said she’s had orders from customers as far away as Texas and California.
She said she hopes to expand the items she sells to include sewn capes, but just until graduation.
“My biggest suggestion would be, if you’re thinking about it, just do it,” Lock said. “If you just start out with one thing, see how it goes. If you make money, then throw on the second thing. Do it right when you have the idea.”