“Disciplined and Consistent”: Student small business owners share their entrepreneurial journey

From side hustles to small businesses, some get a little creative in their efforts to make money while in college. Many students dream of owning their own business upon graduation, but others prefer not to wait before making that dream a reality.

Faith Cabalum, a sophomore in digital storytelling, is the owner of the @msu.gamedaygear account on Instagram. She uses her account to resell economical MSU clothing to an audience of nearly 2,500 followers.

Cabalum started in business in 2021 before entering college and when she started saving for fun. Her excitement about coming to MSU, as well as her newfound hobby, served as inspiration for her company’s premise.

“I started shopping for some clothes, and then I was also super excited to go to MSU, so I kind of brought the two together,” Cabalum said. “I’ve always just loved fashion too, so I created an account, just by accident, with no idea where it could possibly go.

The company has created a community over the course of a year and a half, Cabalum said. She has expanded by using student ambassadors to promote her clothes and help with other various aspects of the social media shop.

“Basically, they can gain work experience with me and help run my pop-up shops. They help with marketing, sometimes I have them do graphics for me or something like that, just depending on your field of study or your interest, they’re all very different,” Cabalum said. “I like how we can all come together as a community because we’re all really committed to sustainability and fashion.”

Onylah Taggart, Senior Advertising Manager, is also a member of the fashion industry in East Lansing as the owner of DBN Boutique – the first black-owned boutique in the city.

When choosing the designs for her boutique, Taggart said she listens to the needs of students. She has also personally designed some of the pieces sold in her shop.

“I just wanted to try to meet the needs of the students because sometimes we just want clothes to wear. But then when we were ready to go out, we wanted to have fancier things,” Taggart said. “I want to keep up with trends and … give our students the opportunity to have fashionable clothes, and new and also exciting clothes.”

Graphic designer Ella Pettit makes nail art and runs @msu.nails.ella on Instagram. She initially started doing her own nails to save money. Soon after, her friends encouraged her to turn her skills into a business.

Pettit takes pride in her work through the reactions of her customers and prioritizes customer satisfaction through their services which include gel nails and nail extensions.

“I like to see them happy, and sometimes in real nail salons you’re scared to tell them if you don’t like something,” Pettit said. “So I make sure my clients are really happy with what I’m doing.”

Balancing schoolwork while running a business has its challenges, but Cabalum said that balancing school and work has helped her become more organized.

“It’s definitely overwhelming at times, and it’s definitely pushed me to become a more organized person, but I think the biggest part of it is being disciplined and consistent,” Cabalum said.

Taggart has encountered similar difficulties, but has still seen their business grow.

“It’s hard to keep up with school and the demands of business because they’re like two separate full-time jobs,” Taggart said. “I’m just proud of the growth and I’m proud that I was able to turn an idea into a reality, so it’s crazy for me to see it every day.”

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