By Jasmine Smith, March 16, 2021
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Cal Poly Pomona’s Fashion Society collaborated with the University Library to host a webinar featuring women student entrepreneurs on March 9. The event’s goal was to highlight the small business owners’ hard work, especially as students during a global pandemic.
During the virtual event, the audience learned about the three panelists’ backgrounds and the stories of how their businesses began.
One panelist, Alexandra Perez, a fourth-year apparel merchandising and management student, manages two businesses: The Fabric Shop where she helps run the family-owned shop and Strawberry Thief LA where she sells sustainable handmade corsets with a friend. Perez reflected on her time speaking as a panelist.
“Taking part in the panel was really exciting as well as little nerve-racking,” Perez said. “I felt that it was inclusive and showed a great range of student entrepreneurs and their journeys.”
The event showcased that running a business isn’t as glamorous as it may appear through the lens of social media. The student business owners talked about the difficulties they faced while trying to balance work and school.
Panelist Jasmin Lopez, a fourth-year apparel merchandising and management student expressed how little sleep she gets in order to keep up her academics and business plan for her homemade mask operation, Solo Amor. Another panelist, Aileen Velasquez, a clothing boutique owner and fifth-year apparel merchandising and management student, echoed those concerns, stating that juggling the work is difficult and shared that she sometimes sews her products during Zoom classes.
Nonetheless, the panelists explained that although operating a business can be exhausting with long working hours, it is worth it to see the joy their products provide people.
After the main event, the panelists opened a Q&A segment where they shared their tips and tricks for starting a business. One tip was to explore hole-in-the-wall stores because they tend to carry the most cost-effective and unique materials.
Fashion Society President Brianna Harris, a fourth-year apparel merchandising and management student, hopes this will become an annual event to help showcase CPP’s plethora of entrepreneurs on campus.
“Sometimes, it may seem that it’s super unattainable but showing these three people that started it and are currently doing it and that they have downtimes is a part of the process,” Harris said.
The honest, unfiltered informational session was well-received by the 10 students and staff who attended the virtual event.
“It was so cool to see their perspective on running your own business and what it’s like to be a woman running their own business,” said event attendee Timila Clark, a third-year marketing management student. “It would also be good for their brands to gain some exposure too.”
Fashion Society plans to highlight more student-owned small businesses in its virtual magazine releasing this spring in place of its usual in-person fashion show. The club looks forward to showcasing students’ work and offering free ad space in the magazine.
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