COVID pandemic inspires entrepreneurship in students

Photo Illustration by Camille Grochowski | Banner | Etsy allows artists around the world to sell their handiwork online.

In March, the creative world ground to a halt. Photographers, designers, creators and more saw their work slow or even cease altogether. Yet for some, the increase in free time offered an opportunity for entrepreneurship.

One such person is a California Baptist University student who now runs a modest online store selling her creations.

Natalie Codding, senior graphic design major, started her Etsy account this year because suddenly, like so many, she had the time. 

Currently, Codding sells stickers and homemade jewelry through the marketplace. 

Codding holds a five-star rating and has nearly 20 sales. It is the first step, she says, in marketing herself online.

“I love sending mail to people,” Codding said. “That’s the main reason I started making jewelry. … I (wanted) to mail people stuff. Honestly, I’m not even making a profit off of jewelry—it’s basically for fun.”

However, Codding believes her Etsy journey may lead to a brighter future. After all, it helps her gain experience in marketing herself online.

“To me, (Etsy) is the gateway between the person over Instagram who says: ‘Does anyone want me to paint for them?’ versus a professional,” Codding said.

Professor Dirk Dallas, graphic design professor and program lead, has advice for those like Codding who have begun to sell their products online, especially in a pandemic.

Dallas himself recently published a drone photography book titled “Eyes over the World.” He also runs an Instagram account with more than 280 thousand followers. His top advice is to be authentic.

“I feel like there are quite a few people out there that are not being authentic with the things they are promoting,” Dallas said. “I’ve turned down quite a bit of opportunity, quite a bit of product (and) quite a bit of money to promote something. It’s because I can’t. I feel the integrity of having to be honest about it.”

Dallas encouraged students to cut through the noise and define what makes their product important. 

In 2020, marketing is more difficult than ever, so making your product stand out is paramount.

“You as the artist — why is that special? Why your store and not the next person?” Dallas said.

While this creative endeavor may not be for everyone, many students at CBU are considering the leap into online  sales. 

Psy Covert, junior graphic design major, said that she would consider creating an Etsy, as she already uses it to purchase items.

“Usually when I buy something off of Etsy, I don’t really focus on who made it, but rather the product and product  quality,” Covert said. “If a CBU student made a good quality item that I wanted absolutely I’d buy it.”

For those who have been holding off on selling products online — wait no more. 

Students like Codding have shown us that even during an international pandemic, self-marketing is possible.

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