Vision, mission and purpose: the three core values of self-branding. College is fun and all with classes focused towards your major are informative but what about a side hustle. Something that wakes you up and excites you from the normal day to day drag. Side hustles shape character and create determination. Plenty of college students find themselves focusing on something that drives their individual passions. I met up with some of the most popular self-starting entrepreneurs at Florida State University who took it upon themselves and became bosses on and off campus.
Baili Martin aka THE Baili Nicole studied interior design and recently graduated from FSU.
While pursuing her degree she started her own design page offering her services to take boring student apartments from lost to luxury. Following this business, she added to her page by opening an online boutique featuring accessories she wears personally. I sat down with Martin to ask about her start up and long terms goals.
What was your inspiration for the development of THE Baili Nicole designs?
“It came naturally since my major was directly related, I just wanted to expand sooner than later. Why wait to be an interior designer when I can build my portfolio for employers now! Plus, it’s fun. I sit down with my clients and talk about their style and ideas and bring it to life,” Martin said.
Balancing school and the new job came at no little of a cost, but Martin seemed to figure it out with some practice. “Honestly, it was difficult in the beginning I didn’t realize how much work went into it from getting my logo just right, to asking my friends to promote on their social media and actually performing well when it was time. After a while I got a hang of the two, understanding the supply and demand helped me schedule things accordingly for school,” she said.
Martin isn’t the only one who found their true calling in college.
Whether you realize it not the students you walk amongst can be the next Mark Zuckerburg or Steve Jobs. Dwight James III, senior creative writing major and poet didn’t take the traditional route with his passion. He found a lens and hit the floor running.
James founded his own photography page, @DJ3didthat. From professional headshots to birthday shoots and graduation pictures he does it all. James has always had a creative outlook on life but the medium of photography added another notch to his belt.
With numerous options in Tallahassee James knew he had to set himself apart and had to think outside the box on how to get his business spread far and wide.“I started doing free shoots for my friends and fraternity brothers. Offering them their next Linked In profile picture seemed desirable and let me practice as well. I put my own personal touch on every picture instead of over saturating the picture like a lot of others do I emphasize the natural beauty of each individual,” he said.
The decision to choose photography instead of a writing focused medium seemed unconventional, so I questioned him about how it all started.
“It just clicked. I had always been interested in cameras and picture taking but never took it serious until college where I had a wide range of audience and wanted to begin a new hobby to take my mind off school,” James said.
James’ motto on his business page is “a writer painting pictures with a lens and pen.” Moving forward, he plans to start a photography group to teach the trade to younger students while also expanding his name. Both Martin and James have success stories of their passions gaining lives of their own but not everyone’s experience is so triumphant.
Deanne Monet is a certified lash technician, and though the trade sounds legit and ever-growing, her story was written a little differently.
After launching her business, Mink’d By Monet, she didn’t receive the reaction she was hoping for. “Honestly Tallahassee has an over saturation of lash technicians. I knew the risk going into it but found it so calming and loved meeting new girls to transform. Unfortunately, my clientele wasn’t large enough and I fell in the cracks,” Monet said. From first sight and search numerous lash pages popped up on my Instagram feed when searching, I could understand her frustration. I counted at least 10 within a 2 mile radius of myself and the list continued.
The experience and process of becoming a business owner was what drove Monet the most, although hitting a speed bump in the road she found the strength and determination to proceed and use this obstacle as a learning lesson. “In the beginning I was really upset about it all, I had invested a lot of time and money into it. But I decided to reboot and take it with a grain of salt, it’s part of the job. I started doing research on famous entrepreneurs and what steps they took to reach their goal. I decided to market myself differently, advertise exclusive deals and sales as well as over promote during high demand times such as homecoming and graduation. I had to learn about marketing strategies and educate myself,” Monet said.
Although not off to the ideal business plan Monet overcame this stump and is slowly and surely becoming a common beauty name among the ladies.
A take away and commonality between all three were their drive and determination for their individualized passions. The practice and processes of developing and maintaining a reputation can be hard for a 20-something-year-old juggling 12 credit hours and a part time job. It’s all about the long-term goal. Establishing what you want in the end helps visualize and materialize the passion at hand. Advice from all of the business owners—follow your passions, don’t let anything stop you along the way and embrace the journey since it’s a story to laugh at later.