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Bedroom Businesses: A Feature on Four 5C Student Entrepreneurs

Aanji Sin ’24
Guest Writer

With the student body removed from campus until further notice, student businesses that relied on short-distance deliveries across campus have lost Claremont accessibility, and have to make do from their own bedrooms, cities, and states away from their potential customers. Before the holiday rush sets in, the Scripps Voice is highlighting four businesses run by 5C students, highlighting business-savvy students across the campuses and their one-of-a-kind products. Linda Phan PO ’24 practices sustainable fashion by selling second-hand clothing, Sophia Frye ’23 sells handmade crochet earrings, and Diana Contreras ’22 and Madison Seto ’21 are both printmakers. All four of these student entrepreneurs are selling handmade items online.

Phan has been selling clothes since high school, across different platforms like Instagram and Mercari — a Japanese app similar to Depop — and is in the process of building her own website. Her advocacy for sustainable fashion is both beneficial and an act of protest; Phan is able to connect with other business owners and routinely clean out her own closet while supporting a cause that she believes in.

“I’m a low income student so I was always familiar with buying second hand,” Phan said. “I realized that the world of sustainable fashion was both good for the environment, fun, and was a place where I could access affordable clothing. I would definitely recommend it.”

Jewelry maker Sophia Frye makes and sells her own wares. Frye’s business MooMucca and her earrings gained popularity during her first year on campus, when she began selling her creations through word of mouth. Her peers were immediately taken with the colorful yarn creations, soft circle chains and curving intertwined designs.

“Earrings are like miniature sculptures you can wear, which is so intriguing to me,” Frye said.

For Frye, making earrings is an extension of her artistic expression. As shown on her Instagram, she holds many interests in many different creative fields, including painting, sketching, fashion, and of course, knitting and sewing. This exploration in jewelry and a unique medium like fibers has been a part of Frye’s journey in finding the most authentic way to present herself through her art.

“As an artist, I am still finding my style and what I want to concentrate on for my art major,” Frye said. “I often hear that in order to be successful as an artist, you should just stick to one thing and only do that one thing for eternity. It makes sense to me, but at the same time there is so much beauty in art that I want to discover and techniques that I want to try. Why be confined?”

Another creator is Diana Contreras, who started her company Papel Picado Printing with her sister and specializes in decal designs: vinyl stickers, mugs, apparel, and more. Contreras prides her business in the level of customization and personalization that each product has.

“Whether it be a custom design or a photo you have or something you saw on the internet, we can make it,” Contreras said. “We hand draw everything. Most people buy fonts or designs and images off of SVG files. We don’t. Everything is hand drawn, from the photos to the calligraphy.”

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, small businesses like our fellow students’ have struggled to stay open amidst shipping problems. Contreras and her sister had started Papel Picado Printing out of financial necessity, and have run into plenty of shipping errors since they started only three months ago, but the struggle to perfect their business model has been worthwhile.

“By starting our own business, we’ve been able to turn our side hobbies into something profitable,” Contreras said.

While many Claremont student businesses are fairly new, Madison Seto is a seasoned printmaking entrepreneur. She has been in business for over two years and is well-known across the 5Cs as a regular vendor at Claremont flea markets. Seto’s love for her creative outlet shines through her work.

“I think everyone deserves small moments of joy,” she said, “and I hope my shop has something for everyone!”

Seto’s shop is full of bright colors, delicate swirling calligraphy, lots of leaf illustrations, and a plethora of food puns. Her inspiration comes from friends and family, her passion for science (Seto is a biochemistry major), as well as what’s happening in the world around her.

“Recently I’ve been using my work to advocate for activism, organizing, and inclusion,” Seto said. “I am hopeful that the worldwide social awakening to systemic racism and other injustices will continue to fuel us collectively towards change.”

These are just a few of the many student-run businesses across the 5C campuses. Be sure to check out the businesses we highlighted; support your peers and pick up some great pieces in the process!

You can find the works of Phan, Frye, Contreras, and Seto at the handles below:
Linda Phan – @mycollegestudentcloset (IG)
Sophia Frye – @bymoomucca (IG) moomucca (Etsy)
Diana Contreras – @PapelPicadoPrinting (IG and TikTok)
Madison Seto – @madisonseto.designandpapery (IG) msetodesignandpapery (Etsy)

Image Source: Sophia Frye ’23

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