Homecoming a playground for vendors

BriSafeBoo is North Florida’s No. 1 accessory line. Photo courtesy: Pam Rentz

Starting a business is no easy feat and yet FAMU is home to dozens of young entrepreneurs whose humble beginnings started on the cobblestone path of the Set one Friday.

FAMU Homecoming is a week filled with fellowship, networking, entrainment events, music, football and more. From sun-up to sun-down, there is an opportunity for vendors from all fields to find new customers.

Although the environment that homecoming creates is a vendor’s playground, there must be a science to preparing and operating for the highest possibility of profit, right?

During Set Friday and Market Monday, I asked several vendors what they’ve learned since starting their business that’s pushed them to new heights and what recommendations they have for entrepreneurs new to vending.

Brianna Rogers, founder and CEO of North Florida’s popular accessory line, BriSafeBoo, is a FAMU alumna and an experienced vender. Rogers had her table and display of self-defense keychains and accessories prepped and ready-to-go at this week’s Market Monday.

Rogers is intentional about where she sells because her target audience is people who are in environments that increase their changes of being assaulted. One in 5 women are sexually assaulted on a college campus and only 5% of those incidents are reported, according to national statistics.

Rogers is not only a business owner, but a problem solver. Being that many college campuses consider pepper spray to be a weapon and ban it and her best-selling keychain has a can of pepper spray, Rogers had to take action.

With the help from Young Americans of Liberty, BriSafeBoo was successful with getting the pepper spray ban lifted at Florida State University.

AJ’s Blossom, an all-natural plant-based company, was started by Christian Jenkins. Jenkins highly recommends for new vendors to come prepared for any kind of weather. Her display table was set up alongside Rogers’ table an entire hour before sales commenced Monday.

“When it gets windy, if you don’t have paper weights, you’re in trouble. Wind could ruin your whole set up,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins has been vending for about two years and she encourages new venders to “don’t be afraid to greet people.”

“In order to be successful, you have to treat every person that walks by your table as a potential customer,” said Jenkins.

The next opportunity to support Jenkins’ business on Perry Street will be Friday.

Zafir Furqan or “Mr. Smell Good,” which he describes himself and his business name, graced the quad during Market Monday to begin the Homecoming festivities off with an afternoon of fruitful sales.

Furqan sells colognes, perfumes and essential oils. He is fairly new to the vender scene but he made over $700 during one of his first times conducting business from minding the small details of his products to make his display more pleasing to the eye.

“I recently got better labels for my products so I could advertise them better. I also invested in a table runner, a professional sign and a scan code for Cashapp,”

Furqan said.

Mr. Smell Good is a cologne, perfume and essential oils business. Photo courtesy: Pam Rentz

He encourages new vendors to “don’t give up” even when business is tough.

“You’re going to be more successful doing something that you love rather than something just to make money,” Furqan said.

Where’s a better place to sell sunglasses than the Sunshine State? In May, Jewel Crouch started her shades and sunglasses business named Shady Visions.

As she gears up for a successful homecoming week, Crouch has prepared her sales to be attractive toward the average budget of a college student. She stressed the importance of knowing your target audience and tailoring your products to them.

One thing Crouch wishes she could tell her past self when she started her business is sell the glasses that represent her and not attempt to predict what customers will buy.

“I would tell myself to buy the glasses that I like and not what I think other people are going to want. Because ever since I started doing that, I sell way more,” Crouch said.

Shady Visions will be selling at Set Friday.

To support these featured entrepreneurs, follow their social media pages and visit their websites below.

BriSafeBoo: @brisafeboo and www.brisafeboo.com/

AJ’s Blossom @ajsblossom and www.ajsblossom.com

Mr. Smell Good @3z.fendi

Shady Visions: @_shady.visions