Eric Guel, Eric Guel Photography


“I believe most people can (and should) carry their passion into

whatever vocation is available to them.”

-Eric Guel


There’s that old saying that a picture’s worth a thousand words. But is it really that cut and dry? Think about it. Sometimes a picture’s too blurry, too bright, a head’s cut off or there’s a bad angle. Realistically, not all pictures are worth a thousand words. And if you have any doubt of that, a quick “photography fails” search in Pinterest will leave you either giggling or cringing – or maybe even a little of both.

But what if good photography – true photography – is more about a calling? Wouldn’t that kind of explain the cringiness of some of those Pinterest fails?

It makes sense. Let’s take Eric Guel, for example. Eric truly feels that there is legitimacy to the old adage that you don’t choose photography, but it chooses you. Prior to high school Eric had no photography experience. None whatsoever. Just by chance he took a random Photo 1 class, and he liked it. He really liked it. It’s almost like photography grabbed a hold of him and wouldn’t let go. A love for photography was now deep within Eric’s heart and soul.

After three years of photography classes in high school, Eric decided to pursue journalism and photojournalism in college. Despite the fact that both parents were Houston Baptist University alumni, Eric followed his older brother’s footsteps and made the move to Waco to become a Baylor bear.

A photographer in Waco? Seriously, Waco would have to be a photographer’s dream-come-true. There are so many scenic backdrops to explore. There’s Cameron Park, the Waco suspension bridge, the downtown Waco murals and just about any spot on the Baylor campus. You get the idea. Waco is chock-full of fabulous, on-location photography spots. For a heart-and-soul kind of photographer, Baylor is the perfect choice.

While at Baylor, Eric studied photojournalism under photography professor, Clark Baker. One of Eric’s main takeaways from Professor Baker is it’s all right to fail and it’s also all right to just be yourself as a photographer. As a student, Eric worked with the Lariat which ultimately helped him land a job in the newspaper industry after graduation. And like many trailblazing photographers before him, Eric started out doing part-time photography for weddings and family portraits with Eric Guel Photography.

A few years ago, however, Eric decided to take photography on full-time. He was actually motivated to make the giant leap after hearing Fawn Germer speak at a Baylor Pro Sales event. The entire talk was about taking risks to do what you love to do. That was all the nudging he needed.

Eric also decided to shift his business focus to commercial photography by primarily serving businesses with convention and conference photography, headshots, marketing collateral and website images. Since then, he has been able to capture images for organizations such as Bausch + Lomb, Cognizant, Hewlett Packard, Salesforce and even for his beloved alma mater.

Even though Eric loves being a full-time entrepreneur, he admittedly isn’t much of a business person. Eric jokingly confesses that he just may actually have an allergic reaction to all things involving mathematics. But Eric is a firm believer that there’s always something to learn. He considers Dave Ramsey and Tony Robbins friends and mentors — in a podcasty kind of way. When thinking about his business challenges and obstacles, Eric leans on one of his favorite quotes from Robbins, “It’s not a lack of resources that’s the problem, but a lack of resourcefulness.”

Maybe Eric is onto something. Maybe there is some legitimacy to you don’t choose photography, but it chooses you. It certainly looks like photography has chosen this Baylor bear. Sic ’em!


For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.

Madi Smyser, Madi’s Munchies

“The joy of success will outweigh the disappointment of failure.”

-Madi Smyser


Me want cookie! ~ Cookie Monster

If we’re honest – really honest – we would admit that there is a little bit of Cookie Monster in all of us. And let’s be real, there have been times when, like the Cookie Monster, all we can muster are three simple words… me want cookie!

But what if you could squelch that cookie craving with a Texas Two-Pound Chocolate Chip Cookie that’s the size of your face?

Yes, please!

Whether you have a hankering for a colossal two-pounder or a craving for a more unassuming dozen, Madi Smyser of Madi’s Munchies can take care of your inner Cookie Monster.

Madi’s Munchies is a fabulous little cookie haven in Austin, Texas, that provides a respite for those struggling with an uncontrollable cookie craving. But what makes Madi’s Munchies different from any other bakery, aside from the obvious two-pounder? Madi, the founder and CEO of Madi’s Munchies is a 17-year-old who just completed her junior year at Vandegrift High School just outside of Austin. You read that right. The mastermind behind Madi’s Munchies and the gargantuan two-pound cookie is a high school student.

And it all started with a case of the munchies – Madi’s munchies. During the fall of 2016, Madi hopped into the kitchen to whip up a batch of homemade granola bars to pack in her lunch. With a little bit of this and a little bit of that, the end result was a mighty tasty bar. Madi wasn’t the only one whose taste buds did flips for the bars. Others liked them too. In early 2017, as any budding entrepreneur would do, Madi started selling the bars in her neighborhood.

But what do people like even more than made-from-scratch granola bars? Cookies. Folks really, really like homemade cookies…fresh-from-the-oven homemade cookies, to be more specific.

Madi adjusted her entrepreneurial focus to baked cookies. On random Friday or Saturday nights, she would bake and hand deliver warm, chocolate chip cookies to the cookie-craving folks in the neighborhood. And thanks to the wildfire, word-of-mouth effect of Facebook, folks actually started tracking Madi down for her cookies. It was kind of like a modern-day, viral Where’s Waldo hunt. Well, except it was Madi and not Waldo and instead of a “woohoo I found Waldo” it was a “woohoo I nabbed hot, fresh chocolate chip cookies.”

Madi was on her way to being a bonafide cookie-baking aficionado. She knew what her customers liked and she had a solid customer base. But could she do more? That was the $100,000 question.

In August 2017, Madi accompanied her dad to the Success Summit real estate conference where renowned real estate coach and speaker Tom Ferry was the keynote speaker. During a Q&A session with Ferry, Madi asked some general business questions concerning her cookie-baking business. Ferry provided some insightful thoughts, but also offered up a challenge. If Madi can sell $100,000 of cookies and other baked goods by the 2018 Summit gathering and keep up her grades in the process, Ferry said he would give Madi $5,000. He would give her $1,000 at the $50,000 sales mark and the remaining $4,000 when she hit $100,000.

The challenge was accepted.

And it just so happened, someone from Tom Ferry’s inner circle had a close connection to a producer for the the Rachael Ray Show. Madi took Ferry’s advice to heart and sent a package of cookies to New York for the producers to try. On November 9 a head producer of the Rachael Ray Show contacted Madi. She provided footage of actually whipping up a batch of Madi’s Munchies cookies and the segment ultimately aired on the Rachael Ray Show on December 4.

The accolades continued. A couple months after her debut on the Rachael Ray Show, Madi received second place recognition in the third annual Baylor Youth Entrepreneur Awards. Through this program, Baylor’s Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise recognizes young entrepreneurs from across the country and provides these students with an opportunity to network and explore options as they pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

Growing a successful business so quickly certainly came with an array of challenges. In order for Madi to have the type of business she wanted, access to a commercial kitchen was imperative. She tried out a couple of different kitchens, each with different issues and idiosyncrasies before she finally settled on the one she is currently using. She had to decide what exactly she needed in a kitchen before she could choose the right one.

The next hurdle was finding the time and money for all of the certifications, permits and licenses required to sell baked goods on a larger scale. Prior to the agreement with Ferry, Madi operated business under the Texas Cottage Food Industry Laws, which allowed for baking to be done in a house. Madi could also sell directly to customers with only a Food Handler’s certification. Madi’s Munchies outgrew that, and Madi had to obtain a Food Manager license accompanied by other permits and routine inspections.

Madi’s Munchies are currently sold in four, local Dan’s Hamburgers locations in the Austin area. Short-term, Madi would like to get her cookies into more restaurant settings. However, she has somewhat broadened her vision. While the initial door-to-door, consumer based business model is what made Madi’s Munchies what it is today, Madi is seeing more potential with a business-to-business strategy. Madi says, “I want to build a successful business and continue to learn from it…every day.”

But the challenge with Ferry had two conditions. The first condition was $100,000 in sales and the second was to maintain good grades. Madi admits it has been hard at times to juggle her growing business along with school work. Afterall, junior year is certainly no walk in the park. Time management is something she is learning and mastering. Madi’s objective is to make the most of every single minute of each day.

Madi says, “Starting a new business is hard, but it’s so worth it if you really love what you’re doing.”

Madi loves what she’s doing and her customers love her cookies. It’s a win-win that even the hangriest Cookie Monster would have to agree!

 


2018 Baylor Youth Entrepreneur Award Top Three Finalists
Marshall Adams, Nishka Ayyar, Riya Gupta, Madi Smyser

2018 Youth Entrepreneur Award Finalists
Marshall Adams of Texas Snow Waco (First Place Recipient)
Madi Smyser of Madi’s Munchies (Second Place Recipient)
Nishka Ayyar and Riya Gupta of PromElle, LLC (Third Place Recipient)
Ryan Gabriel of KOLD Wear
Gina Marie Grieb of G&G Pressure Washing
Walt Horton of Blue Valley Fly Fishing
Kimberly Kerzel of HorseTreatery
Will Penningwerth of Spark3D
Kyndal Sligh of Red Barn Genetics 


For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.

Hannah Franzen, Business Growth Strategist at Towny

“All of your passions can work together.”

-Hannah Franzen


Baylor grad, Hannah Franzen recently came back to campus as a guest speaker for a Business & Innovation LLC lunch-time talk.

As guests munched on salads from the local Mix Café, Hannah shared a story of growing up overseas and coming to the United States to finish out her high school studies. Since both parents were proud Baylor graduates, it wasn’t a far-fetched idea that Baylor would become Hannah’s college of choice. And because of her passion to aid development within communities, Hannah focused her concentration on entrepreneurship and economics.

While at Baylor, Hannah jumped in full throttle by participating in the Business Excellence Scholarship Team (BEST) Program, the CASE Competition and the New Venture Competition. Hannah was determined to go for all the opportunities she could. Admittedly, not every endeavor was a stereotypical success, but Hannah kept-on-keeping-on with the philosophy that failure is just simply information.

After graduation, Hannah traveled to Mongolia and worked with an anti-trafficking nonprofit. She then came back to the states and took on a leadership role at a San Diego church for a couple of years. Hannah explains, “Life doesn’t always look like you think it will look.”

As Hannah was trying to figure out what exactly her journey of entrepreneurship and economics would look like, she heard about Towny from a friend. She was intrigued by the company mission. Soon after, Hannah landed what she now refers to as “her dream job” with Towny.

Towny is currently in five US markets, with future expansion on the horizon. According to its website, Towny is on a mission to highlight the local businesses that cook your food, sell your unique clothes and wash your car. These are the businesses that you may have never previously noticed.

Towny is a consumer marketing app for locally owned businesses and banks. The idea is that Towny will provide a method for local businesses to regularly communicate sales and promotions with consumers. Consumer purchases not only support local businesses but also add up with a rewards program.  

For Hannah, Towny is a platform she can use to follow her passion to help build development within communities. Hannah’s philosophy is actually pretty simple… in order to be an entrepreneur, you have to learn from entrepreneurs. And the best way to learn from entrepreneurs is to talk to the business owners. As Hannah explains, “Every business has a story to tell.”

Hannah loves that she is able to help existing small business owners and at the same time bridge the gap between an old way of running a business with brick and mortar with a new way of running a business with technology. She believes you truly can connect the old with the new.

This is what Hannah’s journey of entrepreneurship and economics looks like right now. She takes pride in that she is helping to develop local communities one small business at a time. Hannah emphasizes, “If you think you have something valuable to offer, you probably do.”


For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.

 

Kirsten Dickerson, Raven + Lily

“Never lose sight of your mission or reason for wanting to start a business.”

-Kirsten Dickerson


Entrepreneur.com posted an interesting article that listed the top 5 reasons one should consider becoming an entrepreneur. The list went as follows:

  1. The opportunity to control your destiny
  2. The freedom to spend your time doing what’s important to you
  3. Unlimited earning possibilities
  4. Location independence
  5. The chance to leave a lasting legacy

By all accounts, that’s a respectable listing. Destiny, freedom, possibilities, independence, legacy… Yes, please.

But actually, it’s the astute doctrine of Dr. Seuss that seems to sum up the essence of an entrepreneur even better. With a good bit of certainty, we can assume that the esteemed storyteller was not speaking on entrepreneurship, but the sentiment is fitting, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Now doesn’t that completely sum up entrepreneurship in a perfect little package topped with a pretty little bow? In basic terms, entrepreneurship is when innovators believe they have a product or service that can make things better for a group of people – and they do something about it.

Making things better…

Kirsten Dickerson is an entrepreneur guided by such insightful Seuss-ism. This Baylor graduate received her BSE, but immediately knew her classroom was beyond the confines of the typical, academic four walls. The day after walking the stage at Baylor, Kirsten hopped on a plane for a volunteer assignment. Since that day, she has traveled to more than 30 countries advocating for women and shaping her global perspective in effort to use fashion for good in the world.

In 1997 Kirsten led a cross-cultural outreach trip to India to visit her favorite non profit groups that were focused on empowering women and alleviating poverty. The core belief being that when women are empowered to earn an income, they will invest back into health, education, food, children, family and ultimately the community.

Kirsten and her team saw a growing trend in training women in design skills. However, while the nonprofits were headed in the right direction, they missed the mark on providing modern design input and the necessary tools to access the western market. Kirsten took matters into her own hands and pulled together a group of experts in fashion, jewelry and graphic design to walk along side her in effort to empower the women working so hard to forge their own path.

The concept has always been to lead with the best designs that reflect the beauty and culture of the artisan women. In 2008, Kirsten and her crew started the self-funded, nonprofit Raven + Lily. Three years later the business moved into the current for profit social business model.

The Raven + Lily mission is simple, but bold. Raven + Lily, as an ethical fashion and lifestyle brand, is dedicated to empowering women through jobs by design. The desire is to create modern designs produced through long-term artisan partnerships that help employ women from around the world. Currently, Raven + Lily employs more than 1,500 women through fair trade design partnerships in 10 different countries, including the US.

These partners employ at-risk women who are trafficked, HIV positive, previously homeless or in oppressive situations. Raven + Lily strives to empower these women, who are at times perceived as outcasts and/or socially invisible, to earn a living for themselves and their families.

The current focus for the business is to strengthen online sales, which have provided the strongest margins. The four-year goal, however, is to expand to strategically located storefronts in key cities like Los Angeles and New York City.

One thing that sets Raven + Lily apart from other social enterprises is a B Corporation classification. As a certified Benefit Corporation, Raven + Lily is committed to:

  • Employing at risk, impoverished women to improve their livelihood
  • Eco-friendly practices in sourcing of materials and design processes
  • Honoring traditional artisan crafts and techniques
  • Providing sustainable fair trade wages
  • Creating exclusive, modern designs that reflect the beauty and culture of the women who create them
  • Donating back to the artisan communities for healthcare and educational needs

Raven + Lily is also Fair Trade Federation certified and was named Best for the World in Community Impact. Other accolades and acknowledgements include the Classy Award: Philanthropic Business of the Year and the Austin Gives Generous Business Award: Charitable Champions.

That’s a whole lot of making things better, but Kirsten is quick to point out that Raven + Lily didn’t just happen. She credits her husband Brandon for being her biggest cheerleader, supporter and encourager on this incredible journey. Kirsten also acknowledges that while her ridiculously intuitive (our words, not hers) “on-the-job CEO training” was certainly productive, it’s because she had a distinguished posse of business mentors (Kendra Scott) and board members (Amanda Nevins and Danielle Pruitt) that she was able to blaze a trail like none other.

And then there are those whom Kirsten passionately refers to as the “main heroes” of the Raven + Lily success. She says, “The women artisans of Raven + Lily are my constant inspiration and the main factor for our success.”

We go back to the words of Dr. Seuss, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Don’t you think the world is a much better place because people like Kirsten and those around her care a whole awful lot?


For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/

Cece Lively, Lively Designs

 

“Your hard work is a direct reflection on your products.”

-Cece Lively


We’ve all seen the funny tees imprinted with something like my grandma went to Luckenbach and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. Not that there is anything wrong with going to Luckenbach, but there is something terribly wrong with gifting a lousy t-shirt.

But what are you supposed to do if you want a tee that’s fun and maybe even a little funky? Something a little different that isn’t mass produced. Something that captures your absolute essence in a sassy and comfy tee. You contact Cece Lively, that’s what you do.

Cece is the founder, the creator, the designer, the mastermind, the genius behind Lively Designs, something she likes to refer to as a little business started from people loving my tees locally!

And seriously, what’s not to love! Lively Designs has simply-stated tees imprinted with but first coffee, farm fresh or choose joy, but also the fun, got-it-goin’-on tees imprinted with wake-pray-slay or mama needs wine. The best part is custom tee orders are accepted. They are actually encouraged.

There’s so much love for Cece’s tees that she was invited to participate as a vendor in the 2017 Spring at the Silos event at the Waco Magnolia Market, hosted by Joanna Gaines. Yes, you read that right, the Joanna Gaines.

But to grasp the full magnitude of this home-grown success story, we have to back up a little bit. Long story short… Cece grew up in Orlando, but she likes to tell people that she came to Texas just as soon as she could. She received her masters in education administration from Baylor University and is currently teaching a lucky group of fifth graders the joy of math at Robinson Intermediate School.

In October 2016 Cece made a fun tee at the request of her daughter. She posted a picture of the tee on Facebook thinking maybe she could bring in a little extra money making custom tees.

A friend from Houston saw the picture and asked to share it via Instagram. The friend wanted to do a tee giveaway via Instagram, but in order to do that Cece had to create an Etsy page. Cece was resistant, but ultimately she created a Lively Designs Etsy page.

Initially, it was hard for Cece to give away her tees. But that Instagram giveaway was the catalyst for something bigger. Much bigger.

After the Instagram giveaway, Lively Designs had 15 tee orders on Etsy. Just like that, people were going crazy for the comfy, made-with-a-personal-touch tees. And Cece was carving a definite niche for Lively Designs. While there are a ton of really awesome tee makers on Etsy, most have minimum order requirements of 12-15 tees. Cece decided Lively Designs would forgo the sometimes complicated minimum order requirement. She says, “I’m not afraid to do a custom order with just one or two tees!”

Cece was well aware that just because one item did well on Etsy, success was not a guarantee. But she figured that if a shirt did well locally, then there was a good chance that folks would like it online as well.

Her marketing plan was simple, yet ingenious — post pictures of the newest tee creations on social media and direct folks to the Etsy page. That strategy worked well. From October – December, Lively Designs sold about 1,000 tees.

Holy guacamole! Cece wasn’t prepared for that kind of growth pace. She had to take a few steps back and create a business plan and set some goals for a healthy balance for family, teaching and Etsy.

Cece wrapped up 2016 on such a high note, she set a 2017 sales goal of 10,000 tees. It was an ambitious goal, but she was determined to jump in feet-first and go for it. She continued her marketing strategy utilizing social media, but word-of-mouth soon became one of Lively Designs’ biggest assets. So much so, that Cece was personally invited by Joanna Gaines to participate in the March 2017 Magnolia Market Spring at the Silos event. This three-day event, featured 65 amazing artisan vendors from across the country. And Lively Designs had a booth right in the middle of it all.

This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime, mind-blowing kind of opportunities for this small-town businesswoman. Cece sold more than 700 tees in those three days at the Silos. And she came home to another 100 Etsy orders. 

This spring, Cece also tested the waters with a hands-on buying experience for her customers. Lively Designs now has a rental space at the local, downtown Waco hot-spot Sironia. Sironia is a fabulous boutique-type lunch destination with to-die-for desserts and fun, artisan shopping.

It’s looking like Lively Designs is getting closer and closer to that ambitious 2017 sales goal. Cece credits her success to her entrepreneurial parents, supportive friends, loads of hard work and fun. She says, “The hard work is paying off, but most importantly I’m having fun too!”

Sayonara to lousy, boring tees! And hello to Lively Designs.


For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/

2017 Baylor Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

-Walt Disney


What comes to mind when you hear the term good ol’ days? For a lot of folks, the good ol’ days  are the years spent in high school. Football games, homecoming dances, proms and first glances from a high school sweetheart – a lot of good memories, albeit some very awkward memories, but nonetheless good memories indeed.

Adulting can be hard and it can be stressful. And let’s face it, with grown-up jobs, bills and decision making the fun and lackadaisical good ol’ days feeling can be somewhat elusive at times. But there is an elite group of students who brilliantly combined the good ol’ days of high school with the responsibility of adulting with such amazing finesse that Baylor just had to honor them with 2017 Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Yes, you read that right. Youth and entrepreneurship in harmony, sort of communal like two peas in a pod. But really, those two words go together like fine mess, jumbo shrimp, clearly confused, old news and awfully good. Youth aren’t supposed to be entrepreneurs. That’s adulting stuff. Youth should be living it up in the good ol’ days.

Maybe so, but these students have blazed an entrepreneurial trail like none other. And we’re not talking cookie-cutter entrepreneurial endeavors either. These youth entrepreneurs were successful with pizazzy socks and chic personalized gifts. Definitely not run-of-the-mill side gigs.

Roxie Collier, Brennan, Mary Abrahams

The first place recipient of the 2017 Youth Entrepreneur Award was high school junior, Brennan Agranoff. Brennan is the founder of HoopSwagg, an apparel customization business that specializes in socks. These aren’t ordinary, boring socks though. These are pizazzy socks.

Be warned. If you’re looking for plain-jane, blend-in-with-the-crowd kind of socks, steer clear of HoopSwagg. But if you’re looking for socks with an edge, sock that make a statement with design names like Psycho Rainbow, Goat Farm, Detonation and Eyeballz then you must check out HoopSwagg.com…now.

But how in the world did this happen?

It all started in seventh grade. In midst of typical adolescent self discovery, Brennan became obsessed with socks. The only problem with that was everyone was wearing plain colored socks. And plain colored socks didn’t satisfy this budding sock aficionado. Brennan mowed the lawn all summer and saved his money to buy the very coolest pair of wildly-colored socks online for $50. He wore the perfectly hued socks to school in the fall and all of his friends were duly impressed.

As with any entrepreneur, Brennan wondered how he could make a razzle-dazzle sock on his own. For six months he researched processes, equipment and production. He then had a few samples made and tried his luck on eBay. Not knowing exactly what to expect with his first try at eCommerce, Brennan was thrilled when the socks instantly sold out.

Brennan knew he was onto something with his flashy feet accessories. He prepared a business plan and asked his parents for a $3,000 loan. The parentals loved the idea and complied with the loan request. By August 2013, armed with funding, equipment and a live website, HoopSwagg, LLC was the real deal.

There have been a few bumps in the road for Brennan. One of the biggest hurdles has simply been his age. Paperwork, financials and trademark submissions all required a parent’s signature. And then there’s the unknown. The not knowing what can go wrong is a struggle. But Brennan looks at each new problem as an opportunity to find a solution.

A lot has changed since that initial 2013 launch. HoopSwagg now has its own brand of sock and Brennan is looking to expand his high school basketball program to more than 500 teams. Eventually, he would like to introduce the retail market to his less expensive, high quality socks.

Brennan says, “When you have something that people want, they will come.”

Roxie Collier, Addison, Mary Abrahams

The third place recipient of the 2017 Youth Entrepreneur Award was high school sophomore, Addison Bain. Addison is the founder of Addigrams, a business that takes everyday items like travel mugs and backpacks and personalizes them with monograms and names. A morning cup of joe in a chic, personalized mug…yes, please.

But how in the world did this happen?

The Addigrams journey began during a summer trip to Michigan when Addison’s Aunt Kristen introduced the most amazing, the most intriguing, the most fabulous thing ever…a Cricut®. The Cricut is a nifty machine that is every crafty DIYer’s dream come true. It’s a die-cutting machine,  and according to the website, it can be used for “everything from cards and gifts to party and home decor, fashion and accessories and more!”

The budding entrepreneur took the “and more” and ran with it. Immediately she imagined all of the ways she could use a Cricut, and like any innovative teenager would do…she asked mom and dad if they would buy her a Cricut. The conversation didn’t go quite as Addison had hoped, but that didn’t stop this precocious teen.

Addison started saving her babysitting earnings. By September, she had $190. Even though she was still $60 short, Addison’s parents chipped in the remainder and bought the Cricut. After a few weeks of experimenting with the Cricut, Addison’s wheels were turning. She started thinking of all the different customized items she could create with the Cricut. All of the things she could create…and sell. Addison wanted to start her own business.

With backing from mom and dad, Addison created an Etsy shop. Initially, customers were family and friends. However, that soon changed with the magical powers of social media and word-of-mouth praise. And like any successful entrepreneur would do, Addison wondered how she could make her business better. Embroidery was the next plan of action.

Addigrams’ custom-chic, monogrammed and embroidered items have been shipped to 22 states. Addison does close the Etsy store during school months, but during that time she takes every opportunity to participate in community events and markets. Her next plan is to broaden the product line to include leather jewelry.

Addison says, “Never think you are too young to start your own business.”

Luther Vandross once said, “The best part is still ahead of me – I haven’t experienced my ‘good old days’ yet.”

Maybe Brennan and Addison are onto something. Something big. Something extraordinary. Something that dreams are made of. Maybe any day and every day can be a good ol’ day.

2017 Youth Entrepreneur Award Finalists and Winners
First Place Winner, Brennan Agranoff, HoopSwagg, LLC
Second Place Winner, Ehan Kamat, 321 Innovations, LLC
Third Place Winner, Addison Bain, Addigrams
Finalist, Sam Fleet, QuickShare Cloud Services
Finalist, Cade Hudson, Hudson Pressure Washing
Finalist, Evan Hara, Evan Hara Films
Finalist, Matthew Hoenig, Matthew Hoenig Productions
Finalist, Luke Stetler, Durango Tire Storage
Finalist, Kyle Tananbaum, Sector 214
Finalist, JB Williams, JB’s Firewood


For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/

Tierra Barber & Denitia Blount, Oh My Juice

tierra-barbar-_-denitia-blount

“We see that there’s a real need for our products,
so that drives us to work harder to stay around as long as we can.”

Tierra Barber


We are living large in America. The Centers for Disease Control reports that more than one-third of US adults are obese. We all know it takes regular physical activity and a healthy diet to tackle this weighty nemesis.

Physical activity is easy. It can be anything from walking, biking, swimming or even Prancercise if you’re so inclined. Eating healthy may be a bit trickier, and in some cases just downright ugh-inducing. Basically, we should aim for a rainbow on our plates. What that means is the more colorful fruits and veggies we have on our plate, the better.

But what if you could drink your rainbow? Or what if you could eat your rainbow…from a bowl…with a spoon? Well, that would definitely bring a splash of fun to the fight.

Baylor grads Denitia Blount and Tierra Barber firmly believe that your rainbow can indeed be fun, tasty and nutritious. And anyone who has had an acai bowl or a cold-pressed juice from Denitia and Tierra’s Oh My Juice (OMJ) knows that this dynamic duo means business. Colorful, healthy and deliciously-fun business.

OMJ is a  #WACOTOWN eatery that offers juices, smoothies, acai bowls and other healthy treats. All menu items are made to order with fresh ingredients with no added sugars or preservatives. Nothing is prepackaged or processed. The end result is the ultimate rainbow of healthy goodness.

But the tale of Denitia and Tierra is one of two very distinctly different journeys that came together at one very gloriously yummy final destination. While Denitia and Tierra both ran track for Baylor, their paths never actually crossed on campus. Denitia majored in education and graduated in 1988, while Tierra majored in health science studies and wrapped up her MSEd in exercise physiology in 2004.

These two Baylor grads actually met in Arizona at the 2014 Fiesta Bowl where Baylor took on UCF. The outcome of the game itself was ultimately not-so-great for Baylor football fans, but for Wacoans who love a yummy healthy-food alternative…the game was definitely something to celebrate.

When Denitia and Tierra met they realized there was a shared passion for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As former athletes, they certainly have the know-how for physical activity. But there was also a mutual zeal for healthy eating, specifically juicing. It was then and there that these two decided they were going to bring Waco its first juice bar.

The juicing duo first introduced Waco to OMJ by selling cold-pressed juices from a vendor booth at the popular Waco Downtown Farmers Market (the Market). The Market is open from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm every Saturday morning and features locally-grown produce, cooking demos, live music and awesome artisan vendors. The Market is the place to be on a Saturday morning in Waco.

If you think about it, launching OMJ at the Market was an act of pure brilliance. Absolute, unadulterated, magnificent brilliance. What better place to launch a product line made up of local, fresh ingredients than a local, hot-spot farmers market?

A perfect storm is a rare phenomenon where a collection of circumstances come together in a way the result is of such magnitude it’s beyond description. Let this sink in for a minute. You have two passionate Baylor grads with entrepreneurial hearts…a desire to be healthy and to help others be healthy…a yummy product line…a high-profile retail location that promotes local, home-grown produce… Pretty close to the perfect storm, but in a marvelous, non-weather kind of way.

Initially, Denitia and Tierra set out to simply survive. Neither had much business experience and they really didn’t know exactly what to expect. The goal was to build a large enough customer base to survive a year. But they dug in and with a little trial and error they figured out what worked well for OMJ. The duo also reached out to other local Waco businesses for guidance, mentorship and support. Denitia explains, “This venture would have been nearly impossible without the help of a lot of talented people.”

For the next year and a half, the juicing aficionados provided Market goers with a product that was not only unique to Waco, but it was also fresh, healthy and indisputably delicious. As this small, cold-pressed juice operation set up at the Market to gauge public interest, it didn’t take long for OMJ to become a popular Market stop.

An all-natural, Saturday morning juice fix became a must-have for many Market goers. But soon once a week just wasn’t enough and eventually those who partook in the deliciously juiced delicacies were wanting more. And they wanted it every day. So, when Denitia and Tierra had the chance to move into a downtown, store-front location they jumped at the opportunity.

The new brick and mortar location kept the duo in the heart of downtown Waco in the popular River Square Center. This was a game changer though. When customers only had access to OMJ once a week at the Market, they could be a bit more forgiving. Now that OMJ had somewhat of a cult following with everyday access, the pressure was on.

The cool thing is these two juicing dynamos didn’t falter. Not even a bit. They successfully navigated the array of industry, state and local regulations for juice bars. And what started out in a Market vendor booth with two passionate entrepreneurs is now a store front with a staff of twelve. All the while, they continued to put out consistently delicious smoothies, salads ‘n such’ to the delight of their customers.

The acai bowls have hands-down been the most popular item at the store front. Especially, the Berry Blend (acai, berries and apple juice) and the Nutty Coco Bowl (acai, almond milk, cacao and banana). They’re oh-my-goodness delicious!

Regular Market goers needn’t worry though. OMJ is still at the Market on Saturday mornings providing fan-faves like Fruit of the Spirit (pineapple, apple, kiwi, orange, lemon and lime) and Hulke (apple, cucumber, celery, parsley, lime, spinach, lemon and ginger).

A recent post on the OMJ Facebook page says it best, “Because when you stop and look around, life is pretty amazing.”

Without a doubt, OMJ is adding a sparkle and energy to downtown Waco…one colorful, amazing  juice at a time.


 

For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/.

 

 

Cory Dickman, Waco Escape Rooms

Cory-Dickman

“In my eyes, success can be boiled down to an idea and timing.”

~Cory Dickman


Try to think of one commonality with a game of hide and seek, a Where’s Waldo illustration and the board game Clue. Give up? All three conjure up the thrill of a hunt.

With a good bit of intellect and a sliver of luck the most audacious can ultimately catch the holed-up hider, find the wandering Waldo and solve the menacing murder mystery. You may be thinking that these are nothing but frivolous, childish games. Very true, but do we ever actually outgrow the adrenaline rush of a good ol’, thrill-seeking quest to find the unfindable?

Seriously, doubtful. After all, there’s a little bit of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes in all of us. You may have to dig deep to find your inner sleuth, but it’s there. And once you find it, there’s no way to put it back. It’s virtually impossible to suppress the “must solve mystery — now” urge.

Thank goodness for Waco Escape Rooms (WER). According to the WER website, WER builds rooms around a story or theme and invites you to test your wits against the challenging clues, perplexing puzzles, and maddening mysteries embedded in the rooms. Basically what that means is that they lock a small group of people in a themed room and the group has 60 minutes to solve a series of puzzles and clues that will help them escape the room.

What kind of insidious mastermind could come up with such an ingenious idea? Oh, just your average, run-of-the-mill Baylor grad. That’s right. Baylor graduate Cory Dickman is the top dog behind WER. This communications undergrad (2010) with a master’s degree in sports management (2013) concocted the idea with his trusted business partner Jared Dauenhauer.

Cory grew up in a small town just outside of Portland, Oregon. He made the trip south to attend Baylor and it was during the time at Baylor that Cory and Jared had the dream to open a business in Waco, Texas.

After graduation, Cory went back to his hometown for a while and Jared landed in Tennessee where he and his wife launched an escape room there. In July 2015 Cory and Jared decided it was time to turn their college dream into a reality. It was time to open an escape room in Waco.

If you were to ask Cory why he chose Waco he would most likely respond with something like, why not Waco. Cory explains it like this, “Waco deserves to have some fun and exciting businesses.” He continues, “As a Baylor graduate, nothing made me more excited than the idea of moving back to Waco to start a small business.”

The WER soft opening was October 31, 2015 and the official grand opening was the following  weekend on November 6. WER opened with three theme rooms — The Waco Room (4-6 players), Child’s Play (5-8 players) and Code Breaker (6-10 players). And for Valentine’s Day 2016, WER debuted the Dinner for Two Room, a two-person room ideal for first-time WER visitors.

The short-term goal for WER was simply to get people to play. Cory wanted as many people as possible to know about WER. Social media was a key factor in gaining a loyal following. By utilizing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram WER slowly became a local, household name.

One thing that makes WER so unique is that the business concept appeals to customers wanting to have fun on a Saturday night as well as companies wanting to promote team building with employees. Participants need communication, critical thinking and teamwork in order to beat the 60-minute clock and unlock the door to freedom. Cory likes to use the term EnterTrainment when describing WER.

But one unexpected twist for this premier EnterTrainment business is Cory has been a cohort in two escape room marriage proposals. Fortunately, both proposals had happily-ever-after endings. Could promposals be next?

It’s obvious that the local community is embracing WER and all that WER has to offer. Cory’s now looking at the big picture vision for his business, which is actually two-fold. First he wants to help make Waco a destination city. He wants people to include WER in their “we have to do” list when visiting Waco. Second, Cory wants to help the Waco community foster a growth for small business.

WER is definitely going places, literally. WER will be moving to a new downtown Waco location in late June. The new location at 711 Washington Avenue will be twice the size of the existing location. What a great addition WER will be to the #WACOTOWN movement.


For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/.