Students start small businesses to combat quarantine blues

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Brylane Hay

Autumn Taylor, Contributing Writer

Quarantine has left some UA students wondering what to do with their spare time now that they are stuck at home. Some have taken this opportunity to start their own small businesses to tackle lockdown boredom.

Georgia Benish, a junior majoring in advertising, has always loved creating art but never thought it was something she had the time to do.

“My mom has always been my biggest cheerleader and would constantly tell me to open an Etsy store,” Benish said. “Finally during the beginning of quarantine, I listened to her advice and started my own Etsy store.”

Her Etsy shop, Georgia Peach Art Store, has hand-crafted collages made from vintage magazines available in downloadable prints.

Benish said she was surprised by the support she’s gotten from fellow students. 

“I never thought I would get this much support from my friends and classmates. Every time someone reposts my page or shows their purchase on social media it pushes me to create more,” she said.

Kennedi Grant, a senior majoring in theatre, was also inspired to start her business Cooking with Ken over quarantine. 

“I was inspired to start Cooking with Ken this past June,” Grant said. “At the very beginning of quarantine, I saw a post that said, ‘If you don’t come out of quarantine with a new craft, you’re lazy.’”

Cooking with Ken is a catering service that offers meal plates and custom orders. As far as small business struggles go, Grant has had her fair share.

“In the beginning there were days where I didn’t even make profit, calculations were wrong, people cancelled orders,” Grant said. “But you just have to go back to the drawing board.”

Haleigh Lankster, a senior majoring in management, also opened up about the struggles of running her online clothing store Boutique Hal.

“My boutique is completely online right now so I don’t have a storefront,” Lankster said. “Getting traffic to my store is so important because instead of just driving around and seeing it when you go into a different store, people either have to find me or on social media through similar pages or videos that they like and follow.”

The support of fellow students is important to these three small business owners, but finding the time to manage their businesses and their classwork is a challenge.

“Being a student and business owner simultaneously has been very difficult, but I am determined to succeed in both because I want my degree [and] I want this business,” Lankster said. “I’ve put so much time and money into both that it would be stupid to fail this far in.” 

Grant has been able to block out time in her week to manage both her school work and business work.

“I try to do weekly specials on the day of the week I have the least school work to do and any other custom order is done after classes,” she said.

Benish is passionate about expressing her creativity and is supportive of other students who wish to start their own small business.

“I think it is very important to find a hobby outside of school work. Creating art is my time to de-stress and focus on myself,” Benish said. “If you have been wanting to sell your work but don’t think people will buy it or be interested in it, you are wrong. Trying it out never hurts, and I think everyone needs a creative outlet.”