Event Recap: Market Square 2.0

(The ‘ DormBoard ’ is a creation of Clark seniors Delight Gavor and Julia Carrasquel (In cover image). Geared towards college students, this attachable bedside desk promises to make your dorms more comfortable and homey!)

On November 11th, the Clark Entrepreneurship Club (CEC) successfully organized its second Market Square event. For a day, any Clarkie can sell whatever they want in the Grind and keep all their profits. Visitors walked through tables that boasted items ranging from jewelry to new inventions like ‘dormboards’.

Last year, I didn’t get to explore the Market Square as much because I was busy selling goods myself. Alongside three other friends, I hosted a table selling baked goods to raise funds for Horizons for Homeless Children. This year, on the other hand, I was just a visitor exploring the products and services other Clarkies boasted. I had expected to spend, at the most, 30 minutes in the Grind. Instead, the stories I got to hear from each student engaged me fully over an hour. For those who didn’t get the chance to visit the event or was there but didn’t get to speak to the sellers, I share with you some of their stories.

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CEC Staff taking down donation envelopes.

My first stop was with Olivia Frances. Standing behind a table brightly decorated with flowers, the 19-year-old shared a warm smile and sweet voice. All the more fitting for the product she shares with us — her very own album! As a musician myself, I asked her about the songwriting process and discovered that she had taken a gap year before college to pursue her passion for music in Nashville. The album she was selling is not her first but second one, she explained as she gestured me towards her computer to listen to some tracks. Just 15 seconds into the song, I asked for her card to check out more of her music. I highly recommend you visit her website and support this young talent!

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Olivia Frances holding her album at her table.

Next to Olivia’s albums, we find handmade beauty products by Daysha J. Williams. The business grew from her personal priority on knowing what goes in and on her body. While early years were spent making concoctions for herself, she decided to push her hobby up a level upon successfully creating gift bags for her friends. Daysha’s beauty products are all priced college-consciously at $5.

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Similar to Daysha, Saroyrnis Phoebe and Danielle Desmarais gained inspiration from personal interests. Since young, both enjoyed putting beads together and creating beautiful accessories. When a point was reached wherein too much jewelry was created, they decided to start selling. Today, both Sayornis Jewelry and Sunrise and Pine Design have become recognizable in bazaars, outdoor markets, and online platforms like Etsy.

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After looking at earrings and necklaces, I was at first a little confused to find what looked like a huge water bucket on the next table. Turns out it was an invention of the winners of last year’s Ureka! Contest, Christopher Dibble and Calder Sett, to make sustainable agroponic systems available for more people. Although I only recognized the item as a bucket, it is, in fact, an adaptation of NASA technology to grow food in space. Besides this product, Chris is also the cofounder of College Musick, a platform for college musicians to find local venues. You can learn more about Agraponics here and College Musick here.

Then came a business that would most likely appeal to all of you living off-campus, so read closely. Ethan Mitnik and Jacob Simmons, cofounders of E&J Security, are here to offer you an alternative to feeling unsafe in your homes. With E&J Security, you can get security systems installed with college-friendly prices. The idea had inspired the two upon hearing security complaints from their friends. You can check their website here: E&J Security.

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When asked to give advice to entrepreneurs, Jacob recommends you be open to change and believe in your idea.

My next stop had me thinking that the Market Square is also open to job recruitment facilities. I was greeted by a young woman, standing in front of a poster that said “Solar for Our Superheroes”. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the person I thought was a job recruiter was a first year student! Krissy Truesdale had founded this nonprofit organization to thank local leaders by bringing solar energy to their homes when she was just 16. If you’re looking for internships or opportunities to work with inspirational people such as this young lady, you can reach her at KrissyTruesdale@aol.com.

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Just when I was feeling so inspired by all these actions on campus, I faced someone who challenged me to look further than what surrounded me immediately. Alexander Turgeon, cofounder of Woo Connect and also a past winner of the Ureka! Contest, offers this phone app as a way to better connect college students to Worcester. Similar to our other entrepreneurs, he recognized a problem and looked for a solution instead of letting it shape life.

You’ve probably heard of Clark’s place as the 16th most entrepreneurial university in Forbes’ list. You may have wondered, what does entrepreneurialism really mean? I think it simply means finding your own path. Sure, some have more favorable conditions to be successful than others. However, the word ‘entrepreneur’ doesn’t come with a set scale. No matter how small or big, you can be an entrepreneur when you choose to take charge of your life.

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So’ri Xanh Xanh (Thanh) stands alongside her friends selling Vietnamese spring rolls. If Thanh looks familiar to you, that’s because she’s the winner of the International Journey Food Fair 2015.

I had just left the Summer 101 event in Tilton before coming to the Market Square, and I really couldn’t have chosen a better sequence of events. Right before talking to these Clarkies, I thought about internships and requirements one needed to be on a “successful” path. Market Square reminded me that there were alternative possibilities. These people saw the opportunity to take action and took it although there wasn’t a mold for them to follow. It is riskier, but it sure seems more satisfying and interesting in the long run.

Unfortunately, I was not able to cover all of the stories I heard. I leave you with a some others that you should definitely, definitely check out.

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“American desserts are too sweet,” said Van Nguyen as she handed me her maple pecan bar and Japanese soft cake (Yes, I got both of them and yes, they were both delicious!) Last year, she sold macaroons, and this year, she is back with even more baked goods. You can reach her through her email: vannguyen1@clarku.edu, but you better reach fast because she graduates this fall!

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Winter is coming, and you can enjoy it sustainably. Sustainable ‘N Stylish sells handmade scarves and other crafts made from recycled materials.

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You can get more jewelry at both Aubrey’s Jewelry and Something Pretty by Rosey.

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What do you get when you combine urban fashion with a creative Clarkie? You get Creative Theory.

Wononi is a cosmetics company founded by Dexel Sagoe Moses. It focuses on Shea butter products and can both moisturize and heal your skin.

• Want to cook good, local food but find it too inconvenient? Duncan Hardy from the Local Root has launched Green Gourmet, a business that sells you packages of Local Root goods shaped towards specific menus. The box also comes with a guide to cooking your meal. All priced at $6.

-Charis 

(All photos were taken by the author.)

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