Sunstamped by Lauren
“I learned (to sew) in art class way back in third or fourth grade,” recalled Lauren Hummel, founder of online clothing boutique Sunstamped. “But two summers ago I got into it again. Since then, I’ve just been making my own stuff and really enjoying it.”
Hummel, a junior business management major at Franciscan University of Steubenville, designs and sews original clothing to sell on her website.
The idea came partially from the positive feedback she received on pieces of clothing she made for herself, she explained.
“A lot of my friends have asked me, when I wear something I’ve made, if I can make them something,” Hummel said. “So I thought, might as well make it a website.”
The final push to make the business official, however, was the itch to do something productive during quarantine, said Hummel.
“I wanted to do something else with all the extra time I had, and I was thinking that a perfect question for employers to ask after this whole thing would be, ‘what did you do with your time?’ and I wanted to have something.”
Hummel chose the name “Sunstamped” because, in a time when everything seemed “gloomy,” she wanted to do something “light and summery and fun.”
Once she designs a new piece of clothing, Hummel posts it on the Sunstamped website and then makes more pieces to order whenever she gets a purchase. She also enjoys making custom designs.
“I have done a couple custom orders,” she said. “So I have a spot on my website where you can message me and send me a picture for inspiration or just say, ‘go crazy.’ One of my friends was like, ‘just make me a dress,’ and I FaceTimed her when we were at the fabric store and we picked out fabric together. So I’ve done that a couple times now.”
Hummel has advertised her business mainly over social media and has also made an appearance on a local news network.
“One of my friends worked at the TV station, and he reached out to me and said that every Tuesday they do a small business segment, and he asked me if I wanted to come on,” said Hummel. “I brought some of my clothes in and we just did a two-minute section.”
“That really helped boost my ratings,” she said.
Still a full-time student living on campus, Hummel has had to learn to balance her business with her academic career.
“When I first started it was pretty tough, because thankfully I was getting a decent amount of orders,” she said. “It really helps that most of my classes are Monday/Wednesday/Friday, so Tuesdays and Thursdays are my business days, and I treat it like a 9 to 5.”
Hummel hopes to continue growing her business and to stay on this path in the future.
“I would love to work in fashion merchandising, creating my own products,” she said. “I know that’s not necessarily the most practical thing – it is a very competitive market – but I’m learning a lot right now.”
Clayed by Annie and Lizzy
“It was really just a quarantine project,” explained Elizabeth Rizk of Clayed by Annie and Lizzy, an online store of homemade clay earrings.
Rizk, a senior biology major with a chemistry minor, explained that she and her high school-aged sister Anna-Marie decided to take up earring-making as a hobby when they were together at home for an extended period of time over the summer.
“We had seen these fun, trendy clay earrings and we were like, ‘how hard is it to make them?’” explained Rizk. “So we just looked up a few videos, bought some clay and the rest is history.”
They decided to post photos of a few earrings on Instagram, she said, “and then it just kind of blossomed.”
The business, which launched in the beginning of June 2020, already has over 700 followers on Instagram.
As far as the process of making the earrings themselves goes, “It’s kind of tedious,” said Rizk.
“All the designs are completely ours,” she explained. “I like to do things that are a little more detailed because I think they’re a little more unique.”
Rizk and her sister, after designing a new earring, make a batch of a few dozen pairs by carving them out of clay, mixing different clays to make patterns and textures, and then baking them until they are hard.
“I have to love it,” Rizk said of any new piece of merchandise. “I have to absolutely be in love with it, because if it’s mediocre then I’m not going to put it on our website.”
Rizk said she and her sister want their business to be a positive influence in their community.
“We need to use this platform to do good,” she said.
One way they did this was by holding a fundraiser called Project Lebanon in August to help fund relief efforts after the explosion in Beirut. Being Lebanese themselves, Rizk explained that she and her sister felt moved to do whatever they could to help.
“We had a family member who was driving by when this happened and she had glass flying all around her, so it was very close to home,” she said. “We have a ton of family still over in Lebanon.”
The Rizk sisters designed special edition earrings, and all proceeds made from their sales went to Project Lebanon.
“We ended up getting orders for 250 pairs of earrings,” said Rizk, which raised over $2,000 for the cause.
Despite being a science major eyeing medical school, Rizk said that this experience has taught her many lessons about the business world.
“It’s all about connection,” she said.
“You can have a ton of followers but they won’t be interested. … You want to drive some kind of a connection, some kind of a community; so that’s what we’ve tried to do, and I think that’s how we’ve been able to grow.”
Although Rizk doesn’t know what the future will hold for her business, “I think it’ll be a hobby of mine forever,” she said.
“Just the support of family and friends (is my favorite part of the business), and just seeing people wearing and loving the products that we made.”