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Business & Entrepreneurship

5 Female Drexel Student-Owned Businesses You Should Know About

October 28, 2019

Lotus Barron from Aamilah's Artistry

Drexel University’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship has an open-door policy for many of their annual events, so that students, faculty, staff and alumni from around the University may partake.

However, the Fall Proving Ground Pop-Up event on Oct. 23 — which the Close School sponsors each term to shine a spotlight on budding multi-disciplinary entrepreneurs — focused its beams on women-owned businesses, as well as those dealing in food innovation.

“We decided to dedicate our Fall Proving Ground to all female entrepreneurs in honor of Women's Entrepreneurship Week,” said Melissa Tevere, program manager for Close. “By showcasing women, we hope to encourage more women to study entrepreneurship and to show our Drexel community the amazing businesses begun by our female student, alumni and staff.”

Here’s a taste of five student-owned businesses represented at the event that you’re bound to hear more about in the coming months, especially as the Close School looks toward its annual Startup Fest on Nov. 14, which will also focus on food innovation!

Aamilah’s Artistry

Student Representative: Lotus Barron — fifth-year, marketing & business analytics (pictured above)

Tell us about your business.

We make handmade hair and skincare products for all different types of people and skin types.  Everything is 100 percent natural, and handmade with love and organic ingredients. Anything you can think of, we will make it if it’s not already on our menu. Everything is also customizable by scent and materials used. … We are just here to make sure people feel loved in their natural selves.

We have an online service model on Etsy. We’re in the process of creating a website with Shopify as well, that’s in the works. But we will be at a couple different events like this. … We’re trying to get more involved in the city. We are a Philly-owned business. So, yeah, family-owned, handmade with love, Philadelphia first. We’re just in the business of loving and caring for people, and the way that we do that is through our products.

What do you think about events like this, and that they are open to entrepreneurs from across the University, not just those associated with the Close School?

It’s honestly uplifting. If I wasn’t a vendor, I would be inspired by seeing all these different people following their dreams. I think that’s what this school is all about, the Close School, but also Drexel. It’s an opportunity for me to get myself out there and to do things right, but it’s also an opportunity to build community on campus, so I think that’s what it’s all about.

What’s one random thing that’s interesting about your business, or that people may not know?

When I say anything is customizable, you can make any scent, any material, anything you have in your mind, we are willing to go to bat with you and create it. If it doesn’t work, at least we can say we tried.

Eventually, we want to do a consultation [with our customers]. We’ll have ready-made products because some people don’t know what they need. But for someone who’s like “Listen, I have XYZ goals” or “I want to smell this way,” we will work with you, so hit us up.

Jessica Atchinson from Thistle Craft.Thistle Craft

Student Representative: Jessica Atchison — general studies major

Tell us about your business.

I love to make jewelry. … Generally, I let the beads kind of talk to me. Sometimes I’ll buy some supplies and be like, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with this,” and a little while later I’ll find something else and be like “This is it! This is the design.” Sometimes I buy things all together and I’m like “This is exactly what I want to do.” So, it kind of depends on what the creativity is doing today.

What do you think about events like this, and that they are open to entrepreneurs from across the University, not just those associated with the Close School?

I think that it’s interesting because not everybody is thinking in terms of going to business school. But, at the same time, there’s a lot of great ideas out there, a lot of creativity, and it’s great that Drexel is providing a venue for that. 

What’s one random thing that’s interesting about your business, or that people may not know? 

I come up with some unexpected things. I have a background also in geology. When I discovered these little ammonite beads, I was like “I have to do something with that.”

I worked at Drexel for 20 years, and I’ve been working on my undergrad for that long because I just was taking this or that, whatever was interesting, because I had free tuition. So, you see a lot of the influences. I did a lot of geology courses when I first got here. I’m really interested in anthropology and even found these little goddess beads. … I tend to go with mythology, and not just Greek mythology but [my work also has] some Western and Celtic influences.

Esi Addo-Yobo from Snackvilla.Snackvilla

Student Representative: Esi Addo-Yobo — fifth-year, entrepreneurship & innovation

Tell us about your business.

Snackvilla is a platform that lets you shop for healthy snacks according to the diet that you’re on. How it works is you go to the platform or the app, and you select whatever diet that you’re on — gluten free, vegan, kosher, even organic or just plain healthy — and it will pull up snacks that fit your diet. We focus on travel-size snacks so you can buy as many as you can so you have a lot of variety. So basically, what we’re trying to do is support people who have special diets, because we know how hard it is to find snacks. 

Not too long ago I was diagnosed with something where my doctors had to force me to go on a low-carb diet. It was so hard for me because I was a frequent snacker. I love snacking and I couldn’t find enough snacks that fit my diet. I had to go from store to store. If I’m buying online, I had to buy it in bulk. It didn’t feel like an easy process for me so I know that other people had the same issue that I had. I wanted to create a solution for that. 

What do you think about events like this, and that they are open Close School students like you as well as to entrepreneurs from across the University?

I came into the Close School with the first batch of students. … They called me all the way from my country in Ghana and they were like, “we want you to join our school.” And, you know, being the risk-taker I am, I’m an entrepreneur, I was like “Why not? I will take this risk with you.” And, you know, it’s been nothing short of amazing. … If it wasn’t for this school, I wouldn’t have the courage to pursue entrepreneurship.

What’s one random thing that’s interesting about your business, or that people may not know?

What people don’t really know is that I’m trying to build a team of people who really understand the pains of having a special diet. Not just people who are good in their field, but people who really understand what we’re going through. It’s hard, it’s a hard process, especially if you’re doing it for a specific goal. For instance, I know diabetic patients, it’s so hard because you’re dealing with things that’s going on in your body and then you want to eat all these things, but they can literally kill you. So we really want to support people

Katelyn Busse from Connected Recycling.Connected Recycling

Student Representative: Katelyn Busse — third-year, entrepreneurship & innovation major

Tell us about your business.

These products are being sold more as a fundraising effort. They’re made keeping our mission in mind. We’re Connected Recycling, and what we’re doing is we want to create a service that collects recyclables for people, or you can bring them in to us in our store, and we clean them, sort them and then spread them to who can use them. With our current system, if your recycling isn’t clean and it’s going through the recycling plant system, it taints the entire batch and then everything goes to an incinerator. So I’m trying to prevent that from happening. The incinerators create a ton of CO2, and it’s just a lot of waste of resources.

We’re selling bath bombs, sugar scrubs and lemonade. [How they were made is] first we had our lemonade. The lemons were squeezed. So what do you do with the lemons after they’re squeezed? We zested them and we took all the remaining juice from them and created bath bombs and sugar scrubs from them so that the entire lemon got used. It’s to show that we want all of our waste to get used.

What do you think about events like this, and that they are open Close School students like you as well as to entrepreneurs from across the University?

 

I think it’s really great what we’re doing, especially since everyone can join us. Just because I’m in the entrepreneurship program or that you’re not in the entrepreneurship program doesn’t mean that you can’t be an entrepreneur. Anyone can do anything and you can fundraise and create a business to still do a mission. It doesn’t have to just be money and business based. It can be for anything. So I really like what the Close School does.

What’s one random thing that’s interesting about your business, or that people may not know?

I really enjoy finding things and putting them to another use. I love taking my own trash and just being like, “What can I do with this next?” I use a jelly jar right now as my water jug instead of a Hydro Flask water bottle because it’s a glass jar, it cleans out perfect, it was free technically to me after I bought it, and I’m using it for another thing and it works great. There are so many things I have in my house that do the same thing, so I really want to encourage people to think before they throw away, and it’s all just inspired by wanting to be creative.

Rashi Gala from Let's Get This Bread.Let’s Get This Bread

Student Representative: Rashi Gala — second-year, hospitality management

Tell us about your business.

I really love bread. Artisan breads are my favorite thing ever. There’s a lot of subscription services out there that you can do for breads, but they’re really expensive. So I wanted to provide something that’s for students who also like bread, but want it at a cheaper cost. So, I just kind of make these at home. It’s kind of my stress reliever. Whenever I’m bored or don’t want to do any homework or want to procrastinate, I’ll just make bread. I started this [company] two weeks ago. … It’s three dollars for each loaf right now, and if you scan the QR code, it’ll drive you to a form and you can order more loaves on there.

What do you think about events like this, and that they are open to entrepreneurs from across the University, not just those associated with the Close School?

What’s really cool is that the Close School will help you in any kind of venture you have. A lot of entrepreneurship places are like only tech or only very specific areas of business. It’s cool to do a food related thing because that’s what I [want to do], so they’re showing that they support all types of ventures out there.

What’s one random thing that’s interesting about your business, or that people may not know?

It’s funny that I’m doing this because I’m really bad at baking. I hate following recipes. Rules are just not my thing. So, to anyone who’s out there who wants to try baking, just go for it and if you make a mistake, it’s fine, just keep going. I messed up like 20 different loaves before I got one that I liked.