ALTOONA,Pa. — Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is the annual celebration of Penn State's year-round commitment to innovation. It brings together students, faculty, staff and community members to promote entrepreneurial spirit and cultivate student start-ups. Each November, GEW inspires people everywhere through local, national and global events to help them explore their potential as innovators and self-starters. This year, GEW is taking place Nov. 13-19 in more than 170 countries around the world, and right here at Penn State Altoona, many students are already in the midst of their own business ventures.
Four of them will participate in a GEW student entrepreneur panel at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 in the Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence.
Laura Shaeffer – LaDaDa Beauty
“When I was younger, I was very much a tomboy, hair always in a ponytail, no make-up, shorts and a t-shirt, outside playing in the dirt. Then, I don’t know what happened, but all of the sudden I was just obsessed with makeup," said Laura Shaeffer, a freshman majoring in business with an emphasis in entrepreneurship.
Shaeffer began spending hours upon hours watching makeup tutorials online. She started buying more makeup and supplies, practicing on herself and her family members. By her junior year of high school, people were coming to her to get their makeup done, and LaDaDa Beauty was born. Shaeffer markets herself as a freelance makeup artist who can do beauty, costume, character and special effects makeup for weddings, photo shoots and other special events. She attracts customers through her Facebook page, her Instagram account and word-of-mouth.
“After I’ve done their makeup, women and girls will often say to me, ‘I could have never have done this on myself, thank you so much, this is amazing.’ The fact that I can make them feel great about themselves and give them that confidence boost is a big part of why I do what I do. It’s not just putting makeup on people, it’s helping them feel beautiful, and when they feel beautiful and confident, all of the other parts of themselves come to life.”
Shaeffer once did makeup for a woman featured in Women’s Health magazine and was given mention for her work. She says that was very exciting for her and a great opportunity to get her name out.
Shaeffer says she is happy doing makeup and she plans to continue with LaDaDa Beauty. She would love eventually to build the business into a team of makeup artists who all work for her. She is looking forward to being her own boss and making her own schedule, but above all, enjoying her career.
“There are a lot of people who have these jobs that they don’t love. They hate going to work, they can’t wait for the weekend," she said. "I don’t want to be that person. I want to wake up every day and be excited to go to work and love what I’m doing.”
Jordan McCall – J&J Outdoors
Some men like to be in the woods hunting and documenting their adventures. Jordan McCall has always been one of them. At 14, he and Jared Hileman started taping their outdoor hunting and farming activities. “We just thought it was cool, and we started to put the videos we made on YouTube,” says McCall. “We would show family and friends, and people would say, ‘you guys have a knack for this, you have something going here.’”
So the pair kept rolling with it. They worked to build up their social media following and bought better professional equipment with which to shoot “episodes.” In Oct. 2015, they bought business rights and J&J Outdoors became a legitimate service-based company featuring outdoor entertainment.
McCall is a junior studying business with an emphasis in marketing and management here at Penn State Altoona, and Hileman is a junior studying business and construction management at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. J&J Outdoors currently has nine partner companies that send them products the pair features in episodes. McCall and Hileman have recently added two new people to their staff who provide footage of hunting from across the country. McCall says more footage means more episodes, which translates into more followers and more growth. They hope to add more staff in the future.
McCall believes it is difficult to find an outdoor entertainment company that offers a top-notch package of footage, commentary, advice, social media and apparel, and that is what J&J Outdoors is working so hard to provide.
“The best part of co-owning J&J is waking up each morning with this passion we have,” says McCall. “It is something that we love to do. It’s especially rewarding for us to see what we’ve built and how far we’ve come. We had maybe 50 followers on Instagram when we started, and now we are up to 25,000. We get messages from people all over the world asking us hunting questions. When someone is chasing the same goal as you and they ask you for advice, it makes you feel like you’ve made it.”
McCall says there is a huge market worldwide for what he and Hileman are doing, and there are many ways for J&J Outdoors to grow into that market. Right now, they are focusing on building their following and laying the groundwork to one day become the biggest outdoor company. “We have a chance to do that, we just have to stay the path. Where we are right now is a direct result of our hard work. We don’t stop.”
The end goal is to one day, alongside the business, to have their own television program, maybe even on the Outdoor Channel. “Every morning we wake up and look at something down the road, a vision of what we want, and we work toward that. Who knows what can happen in the next ten years.”
Kayla Boucher – Kayla’s House Cleaning Service
Kayla Boucher, a human development and family studies major and entrepreneurship minor, launched her house cleaning business in September 2017 as a way to supplement her income during her last year of college. It is all still very new for her, and so she is using this time to learn everything she can about running a successful business.
Boucher is nearly done with an eight-week boot camp program at the Altoona LaunchBox where she is receiving training and advice from business experts and successful entrepreneurs. She is also finding out about things such as taxes and branding. “This is a test run for me, a time to learn and make mistakes," she said. "The business hasn’t taken off like I expected it to, so I have to be patient, put in the time and hard work and trust that it will happen. If I want to take this further, I’ve learned that I’m definitely going to need more patience.”
Boucher, who is a Sheetz Fellows Alumni, says she had been thinking about starting a small business for a while, but was worried about failure. That fear kept her back, until she realized she would never know how far she could go if she didn’t try.
“Even though there are some frustrations, this has given me a sense of positivity for and about myself. It’s given me self-esteem and identity. I'm looking at all that I want to be as a woman, a provider and an entrepreneur, and this is helping me see that I can do anything I want to do and be whatever I want to be professionally and personally.”
Tim Campolong – Home Service Center
Tim Campolong’s reasons for starting his own company are simple: “I’ve always been interested in business, and I got tired of working for other people.”
A sophomore studying accounting, Campalong launched Home Service Center LLC in fall 2016. The company offers landscaping, renovation, painting and construction. “Home improvement is something I had experience with and knew enough about, so I figured it was a good choice for a starter business.”
Campolong currently has two part-time employees and thinks he will be able to hire some full-time this spring. He would like to add plumbing to his list of services in the near future as well as expand his service area to surrounding regions like State College.
Campolong says his classes at Penn State Altoona and an eight-week business boot camp at Altoona LaunchBox have helped him learn a lot about business law and management, but there is much to grasp outside of the classroom. “It’s a lot of work, and there is more to it than I had thought. You don’t just work eight-hour days and then relax at home the rest of the night. But it’s interesting, and I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t enjoy it.”
At first, Campalong’s parents didn’t think starting the business was a great idea, but Campalong says that pushed him even harder to succeed so that he could prove them wrong. “They’re starting to change their minds a little. I’m not raking in the money yet, but I’m working my way up. I’m glad I started this business even though I’m still in school and young. You only have a limited amount of time to do things in your life, and I didn’t want to waste four years while in college just waiting around when I could get started. I can work to build it up so by the time I graduate, I’m in a good, solid place.”
Campalong offers advice for other students who are considering starting their own business; “If you want to do it, just go for it. The hardest part is just getting started. Once you do that, you will be fine."
Sue Stevens, project coordinator of entrepreneurship and Penn State Altoona’s Sheetz Fellows Program, says, “It’s exciting to see our students going after their dreams with such passion and drive. The student entrepreneur panel is one of my favorite events because their energy is infectious when they talk with other students. Watching them learn and grow makes me really love what I do here.”