The young entrepreneur

Queen’s students share their experiences with business ventures

Young entrepreneurship on campus.
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Coming from a long line of entrepreneurs, business is in my blood.

When I was 17, I entered a partnership with my mom and older sister: What started out as a petty joke about unflattering, un-everything pants quickly turned into a life-changing business venture. 

In 2014, myself, my mom and my sister launched the clothing brand SLM. A line of slim knit pants that are “always skinny, never skin tight.” 

At the time, I was completely unaware of the amount of effort and passion I would put into the business in the coming years. 

I also had yet to realize that to experience the benefits of success I’d have to completely dedicate myself to this venture. 

Over the years, I’ve stepped down from my position as partner on multiple occasions due to stress, but I always come back — it’s become the running joke amongst the three of us, because apparently I can’t quit. 

I’ll be on the phone with my mom and sister discussing the brand, when I get frustrated and  yell, “I quit”. Afterwards, we just laugh and continue what we were doing.

Note: don’t try this at work. I’m lucky that my partners are family, and no matter how much we bicker we always come back together. After all, there’s no I in team, nor in SLM.

My sister and I always say “thank God for our mother, technology and coffee”, because without any of the aforementioned things, we wouldn’t be able to run the brand from our respective universities. 

Today, at 20 years old, SLM is a very big part of who I am. It’s become engrained in every aspect of my life, especially school. 

There’s nothing harder than juggling school and work, although I’m starting to get the swing of things. When I’m not in lecture, I’m working on SLM: from designing, and customer care, to finance, press and online management. 

It’s also difficult that I’m situated two-and-a-half hours away from headquarters. On multiple occasions, I’ve left 

Kingston and booked it to Toronto to make an important event or meeting. I spend less than 24 hours in the city, before I have to turn around and hurry back to Queen’s to make class.

It’s a hectic life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

Over the years, I’ve developed a strong sense of the fashion industry. I’ve also gained valuable skills, such as strengths in leadership, communication and work ethic. 

From a young age, I always knew I wanted to run a business, but never thought it would be in the competitive world of fashion — a cutthroat industry. There are so many emerging labels and brands coming out of Toronto alone, that competing on the world stage is a difficult task at hand. However, that won’t stop us. 

Together with my business partners, we plan to revolutionize the pant industry and take the fashion world by storm. 

My parents always encouraged my siblings and I to “take our ideas and run with them.”

When we started this venture, we promised ourselves that we wouldn’t stop — no matter how difficult the journey — until we achieved what we set out to accomplish, which is to be an internationally recognized brand. 

My company’s determination has inspired me to be accomplished in my own life. Despite the obstacles, such as balancing school, work and my social life, nothing will deter me from my goal of being the woman I want to be — a powerhouse with lots of love, health and happiness. 

Having the opportunity to build something out of nothing with the people you love is amazing. Moreover, sharing in its success is a remarkable feeling. 

Young entrepreneurship is the beginning of my life’s accomplishments. It’s a thrill of a ride and I love every second of it. 

Danny Lloyd, Sci ’16, shares a similar passion for young entrepreneurship. With a flare for tech and design, he’s taken on an impressive amount of projects with startups, including Mosaic Manufacturing and Matricula. The former is a company that builds technology for desktop 3D printers while the latter is a mentorship platform.

From a young age, Lloyd was drawn to the idea of running his own company, mostly because of the freedom you have when you’re your own boss. But more recently, Lloyd’s source of motivation has shifted.

“I’ve been inspired by the potential for a real sort of societal change that you can create through entrepreneurship,” he said.

Llyod has big plans for the future. In five years, he plans on working at a startup of his own, and, hopefully, down the road, his company will be among the best in the tech industry. 

“I don’t really see myself ever fully pulling myself away from work,” he said. “What I’m trying to get myself into is an area of work that I’m genuinely interested and passionate about: tech-related mobility.” 

Lloyd says he’s had a passion for automotive transportation, from trains and planes to hover cars, ever since he was a kid. He hopes to get into the field, despite its competitive nature. 

“There is a lot of support in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Lloyd said. “Still, try to go for these ventures even though you’re not 100 per cent sure you can be successful at them.”

But success isn’t that valuable of a metric, he added. 

“I think success is a matter of achieving what you set out to achieve,” Lloyd said. “It’s more about the impact that your actions have.”

“[If you] set out to do something that really [has] the right impact on the world and a huge impact for the better and you fail at it — I think that’s better than being successful at something that is less impactful.”

For young entrepreneur Stephen Trivieri, ArtSci ’16, a successful company is one that people can get behind, because they’re genuinely interested. 

Trivieri is the co-founder and producer of Breathe Entertainment, a digital marketing and production company that specializes in the promotion of art, music and culture. 

“It’s [a] collective and collaborative [brand],” he said. 

Trivieri stressed that it’s collaboration that pushes an idea forward. 

The company does pro bono work called “Breathe Sessions”, where artists of various backgrounds come together to produce a video for free.

“When we do a Breathe Session, even though it’s our video series, it includes components of other people,” he said. “All of those people actually become a part of Breathe.”

Trivieri’s do-it-yourself attitude combined with his live-in-the-now mentality is what drives a lot of young professionals, including myself. 

“Success is a bit of a journey … again, every day doing what you are suppose to be doing, eventually you’ll get to the end of the line, look back and be so amazed about what you can accomplish,” he said.

I couldn’t agree more. You have to start by doing in order to reach success. 

University is one of the most formative experiences of our lives. Why not start something now? There’s no harm in testing the waters, because after all, we’re young and can afford to dabble at various passions and interests with little to no backlash. 

This is the time to experiment, hash out ideas with friends or students and turn those ideas into actual products or accomplishments that we can be proud of.  

For me, success is accomplishing the goals I set out to achieve. Despite the hardships I encounter along the way, it’s the process that counts, and reaching the end goal that is extraordinary.

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