Students Endeavour in Entrepreneurships

Illustration courtesy of Phoebe Takeda

Lilith Greta Meyer, Staff Reporter

Breaking into any industry is hard nowadays. 

Being a part of what some call “Generation Internship,” some of Cal State LA’s current students will be required to have some serious work experience under their belt before setting foot in an industry.

Some students, however, have taken matters into their own hands and have started their own small businesses while still in college.

Third-year fashion major Katherine Cermeno launched a resale store on the marketplace app Depop, under the account name of @thrassher, over the summer break where she resells new and thrifted clothing items.

During the break, she was able to support herself on the profit she was making from her sales, but when the semester started again she was forced to cut back on buying and reselling clothes in order to find a balance between school and the store.

“Over the summer, I would post at least one item a day, but now I don’t have as much time anymore to go to thrift stores and find good pieces and I live in student housing, so I don’t have the [capacity] to store my stock here,” said Cermeno.

For Phoebe Takeda, succeeding in school and keeping her business running smoothly is a matter of meticulous time management.

“I reorganize my schedule for the week every night in order to get as much work done during the day as possible,” said Takeda.

She launched her custom fashion design and illustration business, Phoebe Naye Designs, on the do-it-yourself (DIY) e-commerce platform Etsy after graduating from Kent State University. Now, she balances pursuing a master’s degree in Fashion Design with managing her business, which has since grown beyond Etsy.

In November, Takeda is showing some of her designs and illustrations at the Soroptomist Fashion Show and has already started working with some stores. 

“I have a deal with a bridal store. They make bridal gift baskets and they put my illustrations in each of the gift baskets,” Takeda explained.

Both Cermeno and Takeda credit some of their respective brands’ successes to keeping an active social media presence.

“People who followed me on Instagram told me they liked my style and also wanted to wear the clothes I liked. That’s how I came up with the idea for my store in the first place,” said Cermeno. 

Takeda found that many of her clients have discovered her illustrations on social media apps like Instagram. 

“People will see them on social media and then they’ll tell their friends who have events like weddings or prom coming up.” 

Cal State LA alumnus Joey Bertrand uses Instagram, under the account name @joeysmeals, as the main business platform for his meal preparation service.

“Social media and word of mouth is how I conduct my business,” Bertrand said. As opposed to Cermeno and Takeda, Bertrand waited to start his business until after finishing school because he “wanted to learn about business planning and research  who [his] customers would be.”

With various resources for launching a business available online, creating one’s own startup has never been this easy. While this also means that young business owners are in competition with many other startups, beginning to build up a brand early can help students gain recognition and experience. 

Cermeno plans to further build on what she’s accomplished so far. “I want to have my own clothing company in the future, so this helps me get experience with running a business in that field.”