Photo by Balazs Balassa
Students across campus explore their hobbies and prepare for their futures by running small businesses. The Christmas Market gathered these student-run businesses in the Hammond Student Center for Christmas shopping Dec. 1, with vendors varying from wood block art to crocheted clothing and embroidered tote bags.
The Christmas Market, one of multiple on-campus entrepreneurship events Harding offers, allows students to practice what they are learning in their classes, according to senior Kali Dennis. Dennis has been running the wholesale boutique Glazed Jewelry since 2020 and has sold jewelry at the Christmas Market for the last three years.
“It gives students the opportunity to practice all the things that they’re learning in college, like sales, marketing, communication,” Dennis said. “I love the in-person selling events because a lot of these people do their business on social media or online, and so it definitely gives people a good opportunity to grow themselves and their business, as well.”
The Christmas Market and other related entrepreneurial events can help students prepare for their future careers, according to one of the vendors, senior Cassidy Waters, who applies her graphic design major to selling art prints, postcards and other related items. She said she is interested in freelancing in the future and that the Christmas Market gave her a low-stakes opportunity to figure out how best to run a business.
“It’s kind of hard when you’re just starting out, especially on online stuff, pricing-wise, and just thinking about working through the time it takes and how much you should price things and how involved it is,” Waters said. “So it’s a really good way for me to do it in an easy environment and low-stakes kind of way and just get to gauge what I should price things at and how much of my time it would take.”
Waters also noted how events like the Christmas Market provide networking experiences for entrepreneurs and help them see the level of consumer interest in their products. She said that even when she doesn’t sell much at these events, she still receives commission requests afterward.
“It is an easier way to kind of just test out how profitable your idea might be and how interested people actually are in what you’re selling, without having to invest a ton of time into a storefront or anything like that,” Waters said. “Just a really good way, I think, to gauge stuff like that, and it’s also really good for getting your name out there.”
The Christmas Market and other similar events appeal to more than just students who plan to work in business after graduation. Sophomore Ashlyn Mullins, who sold jewelry from her business Saddle Creek Jewels at the Christmas Market, described how running her business as a nursing student has provided a way to incorporate what she loves into a creative outlet.
“I started my business because I love jewelry,” Mullins said. “I love seeing how beautiful women feel when they find the perfect accessories. I also enjoy having this creative outlet to elevate the stress of being a nursing student.”
Dennis said the number of student-run businesses seems to continue to grow as she has seen more students starting small businesses, evidenced by how many more tables were present at the event than in past years.
“There [were] a lot more tables … than it seems like there [have] been in the past, and so that’s been really encouraging to see people use their gifts and stuff to kind of make a little extra money on the side or chase a dream that they have for the future,” Dennis said.