By SHANNON VENEGAS
Handmade earrings, new eyeshadow or a good read — students can find endless holiday gift ideas from their very own classmates.
The creativity and determination of Mount Mary College students goes far beyond their studies. Some ambitious students carry their work ethic back home where they run their own businesses.
Operating a business out of the home not only provides flexibility with a busy school schedule, but also a release from homework and a bit of extra cash.
Andrea Skyberg, a creative writing graduate student and a published children’s book writer, also owns Wooden Nickel Press with her husband Michael Greer.
Skyberg spends 30-40 hours per week working to build up Wooden Nickel and enjoys writing out of the home and owning her own press because it allows flexibility in her family life.
“Having our own business offers us an opportunity to create something meaningful and sustaining while giving us flexibility to spend more time with our children and learn more about our trade while attending classes,” Skyberg said. “Having the company while attending school allows me to immediately implement what I’m learning in the classroom into my day-to-day work.”
Skyberg also travels to schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin giving presentations about her books as well as art workshops, allowing the students to dabble in the art medium of her books.
“In ‘Snickeyfritz,’ all the characters were sculpted out of masking tape and were life-size,” she said. “In ‘Squircle,’ the work was created out of fabric and stitching. I also work with schools to create my books so children are able to make a piece of artwork that is incorporated into a published book.”
Catherine Flowers, an English professional writing major at Mount Mary, uses writing as a creative outlet in her home. Although it is not a business per say, Flowers released her first book, “Yesterday’s Eyes,” a Christian-based fiction novel about forgiveness, on November 27.
“It shows how through the power of Jesus Christ you can move on,” Flowers said.
Flowers is publishing “Yesterday’s Eyes” through Urban Christian Books, but she plans to self-publish her next book online through Amazon so she can have more creative control. Flowers also maintains a Christian blog.
“Being a writer, I can pretty much write whenever I want to,” Flowers said. “But sometimes it has to take a back seat to my academic commitments.”
Dorothy Brown, a business administration student, uses her home business, the Jewelry Journal Shop, as a creative outlet. Brown spends hours designing and crafting original jewelry and handmade journals.
“My business offers me the opportunity to express my creativity in my own time and receive the benefits from my creativity at my own convenience,” Brown said.
Brown works mostly with beads in her jewelry work, creating colorful bracelets, dangly earrings and other jewelry pieces, as well as cell phone decor known as “phone candy.”
Another aspect of Brown’s business includes hand-crafted waterfalls. According to Brown, it can take several days to assemble and create designer waterfalls. One of Brown’s original waterfalls features a basin filled with seashells, but each one is unique.
Brown started out by giving homemade jewelry to her friends around Christmas. They suggested that with her talent, she turn it into a business.
Because the business is young, Brown puts the money right back into the Jewelry Journal Shop to pay for supplies and advertising. Brown aspires to one day expand the shop to hire staff and operate the business in a store away from her home.
Communications major Emily Sparent is another Mount Mary student who sells homemade jewelry out of her business, Color Coordinated. Sparent specializes in beaded jewelry and sells all her pieces for less than $20.
“I love making different kinds of jewelry patterns with different colors,” Sparent said. “I like the responses I get to my jewelry.”
Sparent sells her jewelry on foot, and with the right customers, finds the most success advertising in this manner.
Nikki Ayala, an international studies and Spanish major, is an owner in shop.com, and handles her own domain, shopnikki.com. Shop.com includes 14 different online industries including management; health and nutrition; skin care; and cosmetics. Ayala specializes in the customizable cosmetics line, Motives by Loren Ridinger.
Ayala found out about Shop.com through her best friend’s mom (and current business partner) who would hold presentations and make-up parties.
“We got to know the business plan,” Ayala said. “It made sense and was something I wanted to do when I was old enough. I have always been passionate about beauty and helping people enhance their features with makeup.”
Shopnikki.com allows Ayala to work when she wants, providing flexibility with her school schedule. It has also been a financially viable business venture.
“I can decide when I want to work, how I want to work, how much I want to make and who I want to work with,” Ayala said. “This is ideal for me as a student because I can make a full-time income while only working part-time.”
Shop.com just expanded into Mexico, a perfect fit for Ayala’s Spanish and international studies background. Ayala plans to continue her business after school to help pay for student loans.
Wooden Nickel Press
Jewelry Journal Shop
30% off for Mount Mary affiliates
Increased cashback during the holiday shopping season on shopnikki.com when a buyer signs up as a preferred customer. Free shipping is also available.