Most students don’t have a startup business by their sophomore year of college, but it’s just a part of everyday life for business and tourism sophomore Kendra Owusu.
Owusu had no intention of starting a business during her years at ASU, but Designs by Owusu has become a big part of her college experience, she said.
Designs by Owusu is an online site that offers custom dresses, bandeaus and tops made from large T-shirts that customers send in, usually with a university logo on them.
Owusu started making the clothing in 2012, when she copied a design from Pinterest for her own personal use.
Demand slowly grew within her group of friends and eventually expanded beyond her own network.
“Over the summer, by word of mouth, it literally blew up,” she said.
She is planning to expand her company more this coming summer but said it’s best to pace herself during the school year.
“I like keeping it simple so it doesn’t take over my life completely,” Owusu said.
Owusu frequently sits down on the floor with orders spread around her, each with a sticky note identifying its owner, as a way to keep everything organized and on track.
Naya Owusu said it has been fun to watch her sister expand the business.
“She utilizes her resources very well to make sure her customers are happy and served in a timely manner,” she said.
Some of her customers have been concerned that she is infringing on the copyrights of the shirt labels, but Owusu said she considers herself a seamstress more than anything else and has not printed off any merchandise.
Owusu stresses the need for balance in her life and tries not to give too much time to her business.
“I feel like timing is everything,” Owusu said. “I just have to stay grounded.”
Although her business is growing, Owusu’s main focus is school. She is taking 31 credits this semester between ASU and a community college.
“Right now I just have to stay practical,” Owusu said.
Owusu is also the Director of Archives for the Delta Gamma Sorority on the Tempe campus and is in charge of its composite photos and scrapbook.
Sorority sister Carissa Ramirez, a journalism junior, said it’s been awesome to see her friend’s success.
“I can barely handle one job, school and a sorority, yet she does it all,” Ramirez said.
Along with juggling her business, sorority and school, Owusu is a member of the training team for the Arizona Cardinals’ Cheerleaders.
Six of her class credits are from individual dance classes with an instructor where she works on her routine.
Owusu learned to sew from a required class in middle school and has kept up the hobby ever since.
She plans to eventually turn her website into a boutique, where she displays her own designs, but intends to keep the name.
“I always want it to resemble and reflect me,” Owusu said. “It reminds me of where I came from.”
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