Giving clothes a new life is how Elon University senior Lindsey Patterson describes her small business Faded Front Door. Patterson takes thrifted clothes and upcycles them through bleach dying, embroidery, cropping and much more.
Patterson is just one of over 40 Elon University student and alumni entrepreneurs who have a small business with the Marketplace Under the Oaks network — an initiative created in partnership with the Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, Elon Dining and The Maker Hub to help former and current Elon student “entrepreneurs, creatives, and visionaries” as well as faculty and staff launch their small businesses.
Patterson said the idea to start her small business came from her own experience completing a remote internship in August 2020, where she learned about waste created by the fast fashion industry and through her existing love for thrifting and upcycling clothing.
She hopes to be an eco-friendly business by reducing the waste that comes from the textile industry through repurposing thrifted garments as well utilizing environmentally conscious packaging as she is able to grow her business to being a fully e-commerce business.
“I just applied for the Acorn Fund through the Doherty Center so I can make a full e-commerce website and move from Instagram to a more professional service” Patterson said. “There’s also a company that does compostable and recyclable packaging that I really want to order from.”
Patterson said she’s happy to participate in pop-up shops and give people the physical experience of going shopping again.
“It is a concrete small version of an experience that so many of us have been missing ... finding pieces that speak to them and doing it in a way that is sustainable and safe,” Patterson said.
Senior Catie Naughton’s small business idea, Catie’s Creations, came from her enjoyment of making crafts when she’s bored and picking up metal stamping during quarantine. She said it started out as just a fun project but decided to start selling what she made since she had extra materials
Naughton said her initial plan was to sell necklaces and use funds earned from her sales to help pay for law school. But, as she became more successful, she decided to experiment with other types of jewelry. To date, Naughton has sold over 60 handmade items and hopes to continue to expand her collection.
“I’ve been thinking about adding other items such as candles or sweatshirts or t-shirts to add a more unisex factor to my brand since my main demographic is college-aged females,” Naughton said. “That’s also why I kept the name vague rather than jewelry specific so I could have the opportunity to expand.”
For Stephen Hawthorn, Andrew Veilleux and Sean Hess, their business idea, Good To See You stemmed from a close friend simply saying “good to see you” after not being able to see each other for a long stretch of time during the rise of COVID-19. The group decided to order shirts with the tagline for each other and after many compliments from friends to strangers, the guys took the phrase and ran. Their brand sells masks, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and other accessories all with the phrase “good to see you”.
“I really think it boils down to the phrase and the essence behind the message,” Hawthorn said. “The world has gone through such a difficult time, everyone has over the last year. It was our mission to spread a little bit of hope and positivity in any possible way we could.”
Patterson said her favorite part about owning a small business is the people she’s been able to work with who have made all the difference.
“I love the people that have helped me along the way, whether it's people that share my stuff on their Instagram stories or model shirts for me,” Patterson said. “I really enjoy seeing people interact with the business in different ways that connect to them.”