Student Owned Businesses To Support in the Wolfpack Community


Reo Lee

Owning and running a functioning business comes with a lot of responsibilities, requiring endless amounts of research, planning ahead, and unknown risk. While the term entrepreneur usually gets associated with adults, there are also many self made young teens who set out to make their hobby or passion into a secure financial income.

“I hand make individual jewelry pieces and custom pieces,” senior Cynthia Roberts said. “Most of my pieces have a concept which follows a beachy theme.”

Roberts, a senior looking to study federal policy laws or international business laws, started to work on her business after needing an outlet to explore her creativity.

“I just felt inspired and discovered I wasn’t half bad at it,” Roberts said. “I needed something to do and I was able to make a return from it.”

Roberts operates exclusively online, taking regular and custom orders from various social media platforms.

“I am packaging and making receipts as soon as I receive [an] order,” Roberts said. “Each item I make thinking of the motto for my business which is fun, sun, and adventure, since it is my formula for happiness.”

Although each piece of jewelry that Roberts produces for customers takes time to make and prepare, she shares that the experience is more rewarding than tiresome.

“Most of my off days I spend the whole afternoon making collections, it can take anywhere from 4 hours to multiple days,” Roberts said. “Since it is asked [sometimes], I never buy premade products, and each one has a little handmade charm as I spend my time making each individual piece with the same amount of love.”

Other than Roberts, there are other students in the Wolfpack community that own and run their small businesses. While others may establish a business purely for their own financial gain, senior Wesley Wei learned that it was more important to help with the needs of the community.

“[EXPIRE] is a street wear inspired brand that donates all proceeds to charities that support families with low-income or homeless families affected by COVID-19,” Wei said. “Although my brand is small, I believe that no matter how small a company or brand can still make an impact on the world.”

Wei works with a small group of other students, who help him complete all the tasks that are needed to manage, promote, and launch clothing items.

“My team consists of 3 designers, 2 managers, and 1 social media marketer,” Wei said. “[But] as the leader of the brand, I must know how to do all the work first. I most definitely couldn’t do it without my team.”

The items that can be purchased through the EXPIRE brand’s social media consists currently of various hoodies, decorated by meaningful messages from We’s personal designs.

“Every piece of clothing hides a special meaning or a story behind it, like a piece of art, and is inspired by hip-hop/pop artists hiding meaning behind lyrics,” Wei said. “Our clothing is like a song, since it sounds (looks) cool when you listen to (look at) it for the first time, but when you really look into the lyrics (designs), you start to realize the message it is conveying.”

Wei admits that he was originally planning to kickstart a clothing brand to make profit, but the pandemic hit unexpectedly, changing his perspective and plans.

“In the beginning stages of my brand, all I wanted was the money and it started off as a profit brand,” Wei said. “[But] as we were about to launch our brand, the pandemic hit, and it was a horrible time.”

Similarly to many who were negatively impacted by the sudden pandemic, Wei also experienced the harsh reality of trying to keep a new business afloat in the midst of the chaos.

“All of our printing companies shut down, people spent more money on needs instead of wants, and it was hard to get my team together,” Wei said. “As the quarantine went on, all I could do was read about the horrible news online.”

Wei was personally influenced to change the direction of his business after seeing Asian Americans being discriminated against, families being kicked out of homes because they no longer had work, children who depended on school lunches going hungry, country-wide protests, and lootings of small businesses.

“This was when I realized, money isn’t important right now for me and that I could really be using this [profit] to help people instead of keeping [it] to myself,” Wei said. “I immediately informed my team that we are becoming non-profit.”

Wei’s team, after suddenly being informed of the sudden change of plans, undoubtedly had questions about why there was such a big change in direction.

“My answer was simple: we are blessed to be under a roof, have food and water, and to have our families,” Wei said. “My whole mindset changed from thinking starting a business was just for money, and I was wrong.”

Throughout his pandemic, Wei has gone through a whole physical and mental re-branding, the final product of his long awaited project in the current EXPIRE brand.

“I have come to realize that a lot of business can solve many problems from everyday issues to major problems in the world as long as everyone puts in a little effort,” Wei said. “I hope to one day create a lasting impact on the world through business. My company now is just my first step, [but] I believe that we all could change the world one day.”