For Alisha Matthews, it started after she found herself helping people shop and find outfits they liked.
For Mya Brown, it began after people kept complimenting her about her lip gloss and asking where they could find it.
For Kendra Billups, it started after she began thinking about selling fashions as a career.
For T’Keyah Anderson, it began as a way to earn some spending money.
The “it” for all four Elizabeth City State University students was the entrepreneurial bug. And last week, they all talked about the small businesses they’ve created while still enrolled as students at the Student Entrepreneurship Expo at the R.L. Vaughan Center.
Matthews, a senior criminal justice major, said she started her online fashion boutique Studio 93 after she found herself constantly helping people shop and find outfits they liked. Realizing she could get paid for doing that, she created an online fashion shop that she says sells “a variety of trendy clothing.”
“I try to keep up with the latest fashions,” Matthews said.
Studio 93, which Matthews started in September, gets its name from her birthday: Sept. 3.
Matthews said she has earned nearly $800 since starting the business. Studio 93 doesn’t carry any inventory that costs more than $25, she said.
The Robeson County native said she’s open to the idea of continuing Studio 93 after graduation.
“If it keeps going good I would like to eventually get a store,” Matthews said. “But not now — when I graduate.”
But she’s not planning to make running a fashion business her primary career. She intends to pursue graduate study in mental health counseling.
“This is just like a side thing that I do,” Matthews said.
Anderson, a junior from Greensboro studying early childhood education, said she started selling earrings and purses about three and a half months ago as a way to make some extra money.
She said her business focuses on bold accessories.
“It’s going to be something that somebody is going to look twice at,” Anderson said.
She plans to teach kindergarten and pre-kindergarten after graduation but also sees a possibility of eventually running her own business full time.
“I want it to be bigger someday so I can be my own boss,” Anderson said.
Brown, a sophomore from Portsmouth, Virginia, has been involved in her business longer than other student entrepreneurs at Friday’s expo: about a year.
The social work major said she started making her own lip gloss after conducting some online research. She began selling it after receiving a lot of compliments from people who wanted to know where she was getting it from.
“I really like lip gloss and was making it for myself,” Brown said. “Everybody wanted what I had on my lips and they started offering to pay for it.”
Brown said she “definitely” makes a profit from selling her lip gloss. However, she considers her business a sideline and plans to pursue a career in social work.
Billups, a sophomore from Elizabeth City majoring in business administration, said she based her business, The Fashion Restaurant, on a restaurant concept, even listing her sales inventory on a flier she calls a “menu.”
Billups said she’s averaging about $1,200 a month in income from The Fashion Restaurant. Because she sees the potential for future success, she’s interested in making her business her livelihood after graduation.
Eventually, Billups said, she would like to open brick-and-mortar Fashion Restaurant stores.