UT students start and develop small businesses to fulfill personal and professional goals

Shama Gupta, Life & Arts Reporter

After a full day of socializing, class and cramming, some Longhorns still manage to set out a few extra hours to pursue their commercial passions.  According to a study done by LendingTree, Austin ranked second among top cities in the U.S. to start a business, which can be seen on UT’s campus through impressive feats of student entrepreneurship. 

In honor of students’ booming businesses, The Daily Texan talked to UT entrepreneurs currently growing their side hustles into the visions they’ve always dreamed of.

Sruthi Gade, Hair tinsel

When neuroscience sophomore Sruthi Gade first got tinsel applied in her hair over the summer, she said she remembers being entranced by her hair’s unique, radiating shine. After learning how to install hair tinsel and practicing on her friends, Gade started doing it for two South Asian dance teams, Texas Talaash and Texas Nach Baliye.

Through word-of-mouth and social media advertising, Gade said eight people reached out to her in the past week about getting their hair done. She said she plans on working with the Delta Epsilon Mu pre-med fraternity for their upcoming Euphoria-themed party.

Though learning a lot about business, marketing and money management, Gade said she originally started the business as a creative outlet.

“I’m always so stressed and busy, so I started this as a stress-relief outlet,” Gade said. “It’s been really fun for me to do it on my friends and meet a lot of new people through it.”

Serene Cha, Succulent arrangement business

A plant-lover from a young age, public health freshman Serene Cha got the idea of starting a succulent arrangement business called The Succulent Corner at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in hopes of livening up her indoor spaces.  

Presently, Cha has worked with over 50 small businesses and corporations around the Dallas area to bring succulent arrangements into workspaces. 

“I didn’t expect it to grow as fast as it did, especially since we’re a small, mom and daughter started company,” Cha said. “The whole process was a really big learning (experience), and it’s been really rewarding.”

Over the past year, the business has expanded from planting the arrangements themselves to sourcing the succulents from South Korea and Italy, requiring them to hire about five more employees to keep up with the orders. 

While she’s grateful for what it’s taught her and the opportunities it’s brought, Cha said she has bigger goals for the future. 

“I have been interested in opening up a coffee lounge and (integrating) that with my current plant business using the business knowledge (I’ve gained),” Cha said.

Vernon Broughton Jr., Clothing brand

With football in its off-season and his classes under control, defensive lineman and undeclared freshman Vernon Broughton Jr. said he knew it was perfect timing to create his own clothing brand. 

As of three weeks ago, his line features shirts, crewnecks and sweatshirts with the word ‘idealist’ in big, retro font and a Rolling Stones-style tongue on the back of the piece. The front features the name of the brand, Broughton Shack.

“What I like about it most is the big fonts,” Broughton said. “People like something that’s different. What I say about my jackets and shirts is (that) it’s different, and you don’t see that on everyday clothes.”

Broughton said he already received 50 orders, each of which he has made himself using only vinyls, a ruler and a hot-press machine. Despite its time-consuming nature, he said he has enjoyed the process and feels eternally encouraged when seeing other people wearing his clothes.

“That jacket represents me,” Broughton said. “When I see other people wearing it, it inspires me to make more.”