It’s spring and the weather is perfect for outdoor activities. Many of us are shopping for accessories to style our clothes. Some Vassar students have launched on-campus artsy shops, selling handcrafted cute jewelry, lovely beaded necklaces and aesthetically pleasant stickers. These shops are not only creative outlets, but also bring a little ray of sunshine to the Vassar community.
Julie Geller ’24 got a beading kit for Christmas and has since been making beaded accessories for friends. Inspired by the beaded flower trend on social media, Geller began by making beaded flower rings, necklaces and bracelets. At first, Geller made these accessories as free gifts for friends, but many of her friends wanted to pay her for her work. “I thought it would be cool to make some money at the same time doing what I enjoy,” Geller said. Catching the entrepreneurial spirit she launched @juliesbeadingshop with her roommate Marlee Reinmuth ’24. Reinmuth designed the shop’s logo and made it into stickers, and Geller created an Instagram account to market her products.
Geller recalled being quite excited when the business first started. Her posts on Instagram were frequently shared by friends and buyers, and she was receiving a lot of queries on her phone. She often stayed ready to hear the buzzing notification of text messages from buyers and checked her phone constantly. “We would be screaming, ‘An order, another order!’” Geller recalled cheerfully.
Running a business is a challenge, but Geller faced it head-on. “Things always come in waves and people want it all at once, so I have to work hard on making the jewelry and handing them to buyers in time,” Geller said. A way that she solved this problem was by inviting her roommate Reinmuth and friends to bead with her to increase productivity. She also managed her business by having a Google Sheet to keep track of the cost and revenue, making sure she is at least breaking even.
Geller felt rewarded seeing people wearing her necklaces and sending her messages about how much they love her accessories. “I’m glad to have met many nice, kind and supportive people,” Geller said. “I’m also very happy to make someone else feel good about themselves.”
Hannah Raizman ’24 started her jewelry store, Strawbarbyshop, just this spring. Being remote, she had easy access to art supplies at home. Therefore, she had a lot of fun creating art crafts and drawing and thought a hobby that pays for itself would be a great idea. On Strawbarbyshop’s Instagram page you’ll find adorable clay earrings made by Raizman, from cute frogs to bananas in a donut. “Art and painting has always been something that’s been a big stress reliever of mine, and turning that into something that feels more meaningful has really helped with my ADHD. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media, I’m spending more free time creating, without the time feeling mentally drained,” Raizman shared.
Since the shop just launched a few weeks ago, Raizman has found it hard to advertise her work. She has been posting on Instagram and relying on hashtags and asking friends to promote her art on social media. Raizman also mentioned that she might try streaming on Twitch to show people her creative process as another way to promote her business in the future.
Raizman was glad to have support from her family, friends and boyfriend, who helped her make some of the earrings. “Definitely put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to make something controversial. Follow the trend but at the same time add your own twist to it,” Raizman said to encourage anyone with the intention to start a small business.
Caeli Porette ’22 opened a sticker and print shop after her meme drawings went viral on Twitter. After posting her drawings of some popular memes, people on social media bombarded her with messages wanting her drawings on shirts and stickers. Flattered by the amount of likes she received, Porette decided to open up a sticker shop to satisfy her fans.
Porette started with recreating popular memes before going on to create stickers in her own art style. Her stickers became so popular that she had customers from all over the United States and the world. Porette shared that someone from South Africa wanted to order her stickers, but she had to decline their order because shipping to a country that far away involves complex procedures. However, she was able to send orders to her customers in Canada.
Many of Porette’s customers buy her work to tattoo it on themselves. “One time I posted a drawing, and someone asked if they could tattoo it on themselves,” Porette recounted. “I thought they weren’t serious, but twenty minutes later they sent me a photo of my art already being tattooed on them. I was so shocked.”
Porette explained that she really enjoys creating cute drawings that are fully her own and seeing couples buying her art for their loved ones. She has made friends with other artists in the Twitter art community and learned art techniques from other users.
After the success of her sticker business, Porette has branched out to printing. “The big goal is to open up a print shop, and I finally got it done now,” she said. She now sells prints out on the Quad so Vassar students can purchase her works with more ease. She also sells her arts for cheaper here on campus compared to her online store because she doesn’t need to charge a delivery fee.
It’s not at all easy to start a small business. Geller, Raizman and Porette all emphasized that they didn’t realize how much work goes into a small business because everything is handmade. All of them struggled with different things when it comes to running a business. Nevertheless, they overcame the obstacles and found this experience fulfilling. They encourage students who also want to start their own businesses to just do it and not be afraid to express themselves.