Student business owners showcase creations at markets

Angela Lim, Life & Arts General Reporter

Feeling bored during the beginning of the pandemic, Sienna Johnson, a radio-television-film sophomore, emptied her closet filled with the vintage clothes she collected. She started selling her clothes on Depop last year as Sienna’s Vintage, and earned $3,000 within her first week.

“I realized, ‘Oh my god, I can do this,’” Johnson said. “Since then, I became a Depop top seller for a while … I was selling all the time.”

With more confidence and experience, Johnson now organizes ATX Market, a monthly gathering of small businesses on the Dobie Twenty21 rooftop, which she launched in August. To ensure a smooth vendor experience, Johnson said she reaches out to them in advance, sending an interest form that details more information about the event and the student demographic it caters to.

“One thing that I always do is I purchase something from every single vendor, no matter how big or how small … and that starts off with them knowing that I support their small business and I want them to succeed,” Johnson said.

Business honors freshman Kaylani Addison started her business, Lani Crochets, in September after seeing students’ positive responses to a frog hat she crocheted.

“(When) I got to UT campus, everybody was complimenting me on it,” Addison said.

Although Addison sold her creations at ATX Market, she first experienced a market atmosphere at The Little Gay Shop in October. She said the event helped her practice her interpersonal skills, such as communicating with customers and networking with other vendors.

“It was amazing,” Addison said. “I was really nervous going into it because I was like, ‘Nobody’s gonna want a crocheted frog (hat),’ but I ended up selling out my table, and it was a really good event …  It’s just been a confidence builder to see something I believe in, (that) I put so much work and passion into, being appreciated by other people.”

Experimenting with various beads and patterns from home, environmental science freshman Mack Woodard established New Beadz last year. They said the arts, such as sewing and making jewelry, came naturally to them since childhood.

“At first, I wasn’t expecting to get much traction at all, but as (the business) grew, I was able to start making connections through different kinds of social media,” Woodard said. “I’ve been able to sell my jewelry all across the United States and even in the UK as well.”

For Woodard, who sold at ATX Market for the first time in August, selling in person gives them the opportunity to share their passions with a like-minded community. They said such events serve as an inspiring and safe space to welcome all creatives.

“It’s rewarding at the end of the day because I know that even though there are nights I’d stay up late from trying to finish projects, I’m able to meet new, fresh faces at these markets who enjoy my jewelry or tell their friends about it,” Woodard said. “(Running my business is) hard to do by myself, but I really enjoy the outcome (and) seeing people’s reactions to my creations.”