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Timothy Cho spent around 16 hours preparing for Shop the SLC, one of the first sales events he’s attended since starting his business.
He’s the founder of Tea In Me Patisserie, which specializes in cupcakes, desserts and sweets.
With most of his course assignments finishing early this semester, he said he was lucky to have more time to prepare for the event.
Shop the SLC is held by the university every year before the winter break. Students, alumni, staff and faculty can apply for a spot to sell at the week-long event, which is held in the Student Learning Centre. It’s intended to give entrepreneurs within the Ryerson community the chance to showcase their talents and products. This year’s event was held from Nov. 25 to Nov. 29.
For Ryerson’s many student entrepreneurs, the weeks leading up to the holidays can be a stressful time. With the projects and exams that come with the end of the semester, it can be chaotic trying to prepare products for the holidays on top of coursework.
“I tend to always want to work on [my business] more than my assignments,” said Maria Mastrella, co-founder of Vault97 and a fourth-year social work student. “Sometimes I know I’ll need to be doing an essay, but I’ll be on my computer working on our website or trying to work on a new design.”
Mastrella said she started Vault97 with her friend after a high school art project inspired them to design and customize clothing. They currently sell minimalist clothing products like T-shirts and crewnecks, as well as tote bags and enamel pins.
She said that especially near the holiday season, business can get busier. More customers are looking to buy handmade gifts and there are more market opportunities in the city to promote themselves, such as Ryerson’s Shop the SLC event.
Leché Hope is a fourth-year professional communications student and founder of jewelry-based company Gaudi Inc that produces handmade pearl designs. She says that the end of the year is the busiest time for her, but being able to have a platform to share her products and work with other creatives has made it worth it.
“I think I’ve somehow managed to find a good balance,” she said. “You can’t do it all, so it’s definitely a matter of prioritizing and starting things beforehand and choosing what’s most important.”
For Ola Saleh, the nature of her program can affect the amount of time she has to work on sourcing materials and creating her products. Saleh is a civil engineering student currently on co-op and runs The Treasured Giftshop on the side. It sells prints and beaded jewelry.
Despite the time challenges, she says that switching between an academic and business mentality can help her approach different situations in a new way.
“Running my business has made me approach my program in a more creative way because I’m not just seeing it from the same perspective that other people who specifically only focus on engineering see it,” she said.
Some students might even say there are benefits to starting your business while in school, such as the access to resources within the university.
Cho, a fourth-year hospitality and tourism management student, said that his program is a big help when it comes to the financials and marketing of his business.
“I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned through this program is getting to know the whole sales process and applying that to my business,” he said. “I like the fact that I’m still a student and I can go to my professors for advice.”
He said he believes that university is the best time for young entrepreneurs to get their start. He said that being able to share memories with people and the satisfaction that comes with creating products from raw materials makes the work worth it, and he encourages other students to pursue their passion if they can.
“I wanted to start baking since high school…I got the opportunity here at Ryerson to still do that baking stuff. No matter where you are, I’d say just go for it.”
Hope agrees. “You’re going to learn so much about yourself, your passions, your interests, and the industry,” she said.
“It opens up your world and your mind.”