The business industry is booming on Florida A&M University’s campus as we continue to welcome in the freshman class of 2022. In the last few years, new student businesses have been springing up from the ground, and finding success both on and off campus.
For business administration majors Malachi Somerville and Joshua Brown, their company goals have come true. But, the journey for them is not over yet.
Somerville is the founder of the photography ad videography company, WhoVisualizedYou. Driven by his passion for business and his media expertise, Somerville recalled how the company got started.
“Just an iPhone 5 on the sideline of basketball games,” Somerville said. “Creating highlights for players and hoop mixtapes.”
Somerville eventually found an investor to help purchase his first camera and his business has been skyrocketing ever since.
Having shot over 1,000 athletes on the East Coast and completing around 30 plus events, Somerville was able to open his own photography studio in the summer of 2018. He is now able to work in major cities such as Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., just to name a few.
Students typically promote their business through social media to increase clientele. Many have even looked to the Efferson Student Union to become a vendor during Set Friday, which exposes their business to peers and the Tallahassee community. Student entrepreneurs also partner with fellow business owners and rent temporary retail spaces for pop up shops.
Students often start their own business to experience financial independence from their guardians or caregivers or help their parents by providing an additional income.
For Brown and his partner, biology pre-med major Christopher Lewis, their company grew from the need to distribute authentic beauty and skin care products to the local community. Brown and Lewis noticed popular products like African black soap, and shea butter were being sold at the lowest grade and hence was the birth of Gourmet Body Butters.
“We are determined to provide a product that is a part of an up and coming beauty industry,” Brown said.
The partners started their business by each investing $200 for inventory and supplies. They also worked with a mentor to strategize a business plan along with setting up a warehouse in Jacksonville.
Though their endeavor took months to accomplish, the work for Brown and Lewis is never over. They are still working to improve company efficiency and maintain a pleased customer base.
According to a study done by Black Demographics, black businesses increased to 34.5% of the economy between 2007 and 2012. Many support black-owned businesses because they represent hope and inspiration with the community. Civil engineering major Brandon Bolware explained why he chooses to support student-run and black-owned businesses.
“I think it’s an amazing thing that they are pursuing entrepreneurship and it offers a sense of responsibility,” Bolware said.
Gourmet Body Butters and WhoVisualizedYou are one of many black-owned, freshman businesses at FAMU. And, they are steadily increasing their campus exposure and students are welcoming them with open arms.
You can check these companies out on visualizedbymal.com and gourmetbodybutters.ecwid.com.