Liana Testa, an international business major at Quinnipiac University, brought her family’s 20-year-old pasta sauce recipe into the modern age by creating an e-commerce-based business to sell pot sauce.
Today, the Connecticut-based company Testa Sauce, sells four different types of sauces. Attendees of the Student Enterprise Pop-Up Shop event had the opportunity to try it out for themselves on March 9.
“We really wanted to grow our network and sell it online,” Testa said. “So since then, I was like, ‘What better way to sell online than to sell directly to customers?'”
Han Biondo, a young health science student, was among the students who sampled the small business wares on display at the event sponsored by the People’s United Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Biondo tried Testa’s vodka sauce with penne pasta.
“I mean, you can’t go wrong with pasta,” Biondo said.
Biondo also purchased a jacket from Al’s Articles, a bespoke used clothing company built around ethical sourcing, which was on display at the event.
“Every time (Al’s Articles) comes (to campus), I have to run to her because she has the best deals ever,” Biondo said of Al’s Articles owner Allison Demirjian. .
Demirjian, a fifth-year MBA student, said she started shopping regularly at thrift stores while in college. The hobby turned into a business during the pandemic, with its main platform on Instagram at @als_articles.
“Every time I go to a thrift store, that’s just what speaks to me,” Demirjian said. “And then if I see a piece and have an idea, I go home and experiment a bit and try to turn it into something new.”
Another showcase filled with colorful vintage clothing was Hardcore Hippy, owned by senior entrepreneur Faith Ramadon. At the event, she sold 1990s outfits and what she called “quirky, bizarre oddities”, like band posters.
“I thought we were in college, so if I was passing by and saw a Korn poster, I was like ‘Okay, I like this, I’m going to put this in my dorm right now,'” Ramadon said.
La PUCIE hosted its first pop-up store in December 2021 after a student business owner shared with the organization that she had few opportunities to showcase her products on campus.
Patrice Luoma, director of PUCIE, said the aim of the event was to create a “culture of innovation and entrepreneurship” and to help students develop their business ideas.
“If someone comes to me and says, ‘I have an idea, but I don’t know what else to do with it’, I can help them take their idea and (go through) the steps they needs to materialize it into something they can use,” Luoma said.
NiasEarringsEtc was another company drawing crowds at the event. Its owner, Nia Braccidiferro, a senior graphic designer and interactivity specialist, sells everything from jewelry to stickers on Etsy and instagram.
“It started as a side project in quarantine,” Braccidiferro said. “And now it’s just something that keeps me busy, because I’m creative and I like to use my graphic design skills and I’m a hands-on person.”
Braccidiferro’s entrepreneurship professor informed her of the event.
“I love seeing all these different booths, and I can’t wait to go explore and meet other business people,” Braccidiferro said.
Samantha Primavera, freshman sportswoman training and physical therapy double major, bought earrings from Braccidiferro’s business and a second-hand sweater and t-shirt from Love Someone Today, a business run by sophomore entrepreneurship major Kat Storey .
“(The event is) a mood lifter,” Primavera said. “My roommates and I were walking and it was like, ‘woah.’ We had to do a double pick up and walk backwards. It is certainly a of those things that I think we should be doing more on campus.
Storey said her company’s goal is to spread positivity and mental health awareness by selling apparel and stickers that say “Love Someone Today.”
“For me, it’s just nice to have a reminder that there will always be someone who loves you, you’re not alone in the world,” Storey said. “I’m an athlete here and I’ve been an athlete all my life, and for athletes it’s often difficult when you have so much pressure on you and it’s a lot of mental health issues.”
Storey said she plans to turn her business into a nonprofit that benefits mental health health reasons. For now, customers can promote themselves by wearing and displaying their purchased products at lovesomeonetoday.co.
When it comes to supporting student businesses, Biondo said events like the pop-up shop make smaller purchases more accessible.
“I just stop at everyone’s (tables) to support them all,” Biondo said.