I had the opportunity to attend the first event of Entrepreneurship Month: Brainstorming Business Ideas, hosted by the Center for Career Development. There were two panelists for this event, Hayley Segar and Kayla Simon, both of whom are business owners. Hayley is a UConn alum who graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English, and owns her own swimwear brand, “onewith,” a company producing swimsuits that “fit like underwear. ” Kayla Simon, the other panelist, is a current senior English major who owns her own photography business, Kayla Simon Photos.
Where did they get the ideas for their businesses? What inspired them?
Hayley said that she always imagined herself owning a business one day, but was waiting for the perfect product to make that she felt was actually needed. Kayla responded that she had a passion for photography for a long time before realizing she could charge her clients for her work.
Hayley and Kayla agreed that owning a business while in college was challenging, but they each sought out support in their life and on campus to continue. They both commented on how any major is useful for owning a business; to them, a passion makes a business, not the degree you hold.
What resources does UConn offer for entrepreneurs and business owners?
Hayley mentioned the Werth Institute and Innovation Zone being a great place to start brainstorming and designing. Kayla (whose business is not a physical product, but a service) said that she found mentorship from professional photographers at UConn. Both women agreed that support from their mentors has been essential to running their businesses.
Hayley and Kayla both touched on branching out and hiring staff. While they have both worked very hard to get to where they are and continue to work every day, adding team members or contractors has come across their mind or even been done. They acknowledged that that you cannot take on all the tasks on your own and getting help has helped to lighten their load.
I enjoyed hearing about their perspectives in the business world. Women in business are very exciting to see. Business is a field where diversity is spreading and it is a wonderful thing. They encourage other aspiring business owners to be persistent. Making your passion or hobby into a business can be a great experience, but they also state that hobbies can also be hobbies. Not every hobby needs to be lucrative. Start your business when you find a reason to and are passionate about your product or service.
Photo Credit: Photo of Kayla Simon, photographer, captured by Liv D Photography