Running a small business as a female college student can be a difficult task, but these five USC women have channeled their passions and creativity into making their entrepreneurial goals a reality.
Lila Cromer, Shop Lila B @shoplilab
What started as a fun freshman dorm activity turned into a business for Lila Cromer, a second-year visual communications student. Cromer said she has always expressed her love of fashion and creativity through jewelry and wanted others to be able to do the same.
“I want to create one-of-a-kind jewelry that can show a little bit of personality within each customer. I love how every stack is different and that it shares about each person,” Cromer said.
Her colorful bracelets and earrings detail a variety of charms and sayings. The Shop Lila B Instagram account serves as inspiration for customer’s own tailored designs.
Cromer’s biggest challenge is managing everything by herself, from creating graphics for social media to putting together the pieces and shipping them out, all from her apartment, she said.
However, Cromer said her passion for the business translates into a “happier message” she hopes to pass along to those who support her.
Throughout her journey, she said she has felt "more confident and more empowered as a woman each day." She also said she hopes she instills that same feeling in her customers.
Lily Vincola, Lucky Chance Label @luckychancelabel
Lily Vincola, a third-year visual communications student, said arts and creativity have always been a central interest in her life. Her business, Lucky Chance Label, stems from a previous passion project, Crafty Cocks.
Vincola’s previous business gave new life to old records through her paintings. She has since decided to rebrand and expand her horizons, dropping an apparel line that continues to showcase her creativity and unique art.
According to Vincola, the day-to-day apparel gives her more creative freedom than her vinyl work. Her original street style designs, largely inspired by music and album covers, are featured on sweatshirts, spotlighting big designs on the back and simpler ones on the front.
Vincola said she prides herself on being a female business owner and stepping out of a male CEO dominate norm.
“I really did want to make things for women; like, everybody, but especially for women because I do love seeing other women and girls start their own businesses because it's not an easy thing to do,” Vincola said.
Megan Hoitsma, Hoit's Customs @hoitscustoms
Quarantine led many students to turn to new hobbies for fun. Second-year public relations student Megan Hoitsma said her interest in fashion led her to paint sneakers as a way out of boredom but soon turned into the start of a successful business.
Hoitsma paints custom AirForce 1 sneakers. She creates original designs detailed in a lookbook on her website, and customers can also request personalized designs.
Amounting 17k followers on TikTok by sporting her designs, Hoistma has been able to add a few artists to her team and ships her creations all across the country.
"Being a small business owner gives you a lot of freedom," Hoitsma said. "I don't want any kind of gender or whatever influencing people's opinion of my products."
Lauren Hess and Abby Marcone, Dipped Cola @dippedcola
This pair of friends said they have been able to put the skills they’ve acquired through the business school to combine their passion for entrepreneurship with their love of baking.
Lauren Hess, third-year accounting and finance student, and Abby Marcone, third-year marketing and finance student, create chocolate treats for any occasion. Their bestseller, the "Breakable Heart Box," gives customers a fun and tasty experience. The chocolate heart is filled with treats and can be smashed with a provided miniature wooden hammer.
Catering to the large student customer base, Hess and Marcone make their range of treats — including chocolate-covered strawberries, pretzels and Oreos — customizable.
They attribute their success to the support they receive from friends and family, in addition to the rewarding satisfactory feedback from customers, according to Hess.
The pair said it feels lucky to be able to serve as female role models for their peers and advise other women “to be confident in your abilities, set goals and celebrate small victories, and find a strong support system and listen to their encouragement,” according to an email from Marcone.