EL small businesses on the rise

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Renee Leone, owner of Quark! A science store, on Grand River Avenue believes the energy of a college town and the support that it gives is fabulous.

“The energy from the students, the faculty, staff, and even the residents who live here year-round. It’s cool,” Leone said. “It’s one of my favorite parts is talking to everybody who comes in and getting to know customers and what brings them here, what they’re interested in. I just love it.”

Leone has been associated with Michigan State University for several decades. With family both working and attending the university, Leone has worked at MSU where she was inspired for her business venture.

Photo by- Maggie Carstensen: The storefront for Quark! attracts MSU students and alumni alike.

“So, I started the MSU Science Festival back. Well, I co-founded it with Michigan State, I pitched the idea they liked it and asked me to run it. So, I ran it for five years before passing it on, it still happens every year,” Leone said.

According to Leone, the support that the MSU community has offered her and Quark! has been phenomenal.

“But that’s where I really got to see what amazing work goes on back in behind all the closed doors and kind of was able to invite people in to experience that and give faculty and students an opportunity to share,” Leone said.

Student-run businesses have also been on the rise. Ella Lynch, founder of Stuck on You Design Co, started her business during the pandemic. Lynch has been growing it ever since along with the support of the community.

“This was a hobby, this was not something that I never even like, even though I had decided to make it longer term than COVID it was still not something that I saw going beyond a couple more months. But then the support that I received here and the people that I met here just completely changed that mindset,” Lynch said.

Lynch said that the MSU community has helped her, along with Broad Business College and the Burgess Institute.

“MSU and Broad and the Burgess Institute had just changed my life and changed the way that I view entrepreneurship and business and I coming here like when I first started coming here,” Lynch said.

The Burgess Institute is the minor in entrepreneurship and innovation and is open to all students. They work alongside Student-Made to promote student businesses.

Yuktha Pulavaria, member of the Burgess Institute, said that shed describe the institute as a very welcoming place.

“Whether you go to the staff members, or the students that are all like willing to help each other and like any questions that they have, like, I know I can reach out to other students,” Pulavaria said.

Pulavaria runs a macaroon business through the Burgess institute and is the events and partners manager for Student-made MSU. She says the institute and student-made has many opportunities for young entrepreneurs of all interests and majors.

“You don’t need to create some brand-new innovative idea just to be considered an entrepreneur you gain so many skills from just starting your own business and it can be literally anything,” Pulavaria said.

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