Meet Southern Adventist University’s Student Entrepreneurs

By NATALIA PEREZ, MARKETING AND COMMUNICATION INTERN

This story is a follow-up to last week's story: Southern Adventist University Student Entrepreneurs Navigate New Future

Phoenicia Finesse

Pictured: Anna Cousins

Selling gently used clothing, the goal of Phoenicia Finesse is to help victims of corruption and violence in Lebanon, and the business donates 100% of its profits to supporting the cause. Currently run by Anna Cousins and twin sisters Nara and Nilah Mataafa. 

Trend: What inspired you to start your business? 

Cousins: My friends Nara and Nilah wanted to start a sustainable charity to support women refugees in Lebanon. I had the idea to start an online thrift shop to make some money. I met Nilah during the summer while canvassing; we became good friends and soon the idea for Phoenicia Finesse started. We decided to launch Phoenicia in August because we wanted to get our idea going as soon as possible. 

We believe you don't have to be rich to look classy and our business provides an affordable way to do so. Phoenicia Finesse recycles clothes and sells them for affordable prices. We understand that these are tough times and money is tight all around, so we do our best to offer affordable prices on high quality clothes.

Trend: How has the pandemic affected your business? 

Cousins: We rely on thrifting stores as our suppliers and because of COVID-19 their hours have been shortened, which limits the time we can go thrifting. Also, sometimes shipping our products is delayed because of COVID-19. If the pandemic worsens and thrift shops are temporarily closed, this will be detrimental to our business. Right now we can only hope and pray that a mandatory lockdown does not happen.

LaiCeramics

Founded by Laiza Fuhrmann, LaiCeramics sells original art, ceramics, prints, apparel and more. All of her handmade items are made with love.

Trend: What inspired you to start your business?

Fuhrmann: I am a fine art major, and plan to sell my work full time upon graduating. While in college, upon request, I have begun selling more accessible and inexpensive art products to appeal to the college student demographic.

Trend: How have you adjusted your business in the current economic climate? 

Fuhrmann: I have created multiple sales and discounts over the past couple of months as well as sold other products such as handmade embroidered face masks to encourage health safety.

Trend: What motivates your business? 

Fuhrmann: I believe art is important and adds joy to the lives of others. Additionally, I love buying from small businesses, it is a truly different feeling compared to buying from larger companies. It’s more personal. I love being able to share something, even if it's small, to people around the country. Selling my art is a way of connecting.

Trend: How do you infuse your culture into your business? 

Fuhrmann: I am Afro-Brazilian, so everything I do has a little bit of my culture embedded. When it comes to the titles of my pieces, I often give them names in Portuguese or like to incorporate some aspect of my culture in the works and details. Additionally, I have created some works specifically inspired by Brazil, such as the cups for Minas - based on Minas Gerais in Brazil.

A.M. Juices

Left: Alexis Schultz; Right: Morgan Nash

A.M Juices offers cold-pressed juices made from a variety of fruits and vegetables. Co-founded by Morgan Nash and Alexis Schultz.

Trend: What inspired you to start your business?

Nash: During quarantine, the two of us struggled to find ways to make our days exciting. We began to bond over the phone about various mental and physical health practices. Juicing was one thing that got us both excited about our day. We had a lot of fun trying out new recipes and sending them back and forth. We joked about the idea of making the same recipes and selling them to our close friends or other students from our campus apartment in the upcoming semester, but we weren't sure if it actually would happen. 

Within the first week of school, we remembered our previous idea and jokingly came up with a list of names for our hypothetical business without thinking it would actually happen. It kind of became an ongoing conversation. "What about A.M. Juices?" Alexis asked one day as we were driving back from getting our weekly groceries. We both looked at each other and smiled. Within a week, we had Google sheets and some makeshift logos and began to think that this was something that actually might be doable. 

We invited some of our close friends over and had them taste test our recipes, and they loved them and encouraged us to give it a try. Within a couple days, we created the Instagram page, put out our first post and were overwhelmed with the response and support.

Trend: What are your goals for your business? 

Nash: Because we both graduate in a couple weeks, and this business was largely developed around catering to the students at our university, we do not have specific plans moving forward. However, we both are moving to Orlando, Florida, and will continue to be roommates there. We have talked about the idea of getting integrated into local farmers markets and selling our products on the weekends.

Le Marché du Soleil (Market of the Sun)

Elise Deschamps sells second-hand, vintage clothes and is growing Le Marché du Soleil into an open, safe space for people to come as they are and experience genuine human connection.

Trend: What inspired you to start your business?

Deschamps: Honestly, I was initially inspired by my empty bank account. I honed in on my thrifting and interpersonal skills, and after a few weeks of starting up my Instagram account I realized how much I loved styling people in clothes that made them feel confident and inspire them to push themselves out of their comfort zones. The money and support came as I kept my intentions whole: staying people-oriented, and always valuing connection over financial gain.

Trend: What motivates your business drive and creativity? 

Deschamps: My desire to refine and use my skills as well as find my purpose in life keeps me moving. I created LMDS with the intention of allowing myself the freedom to stretch in all areas, not just sales. And the most outstanding one that fuels me to this day are the friendships and connections that I continue to make. Our main photographer, Patrick McGraw, has grown to be one of my most trusted, honest friends. Those who have modeled for me have also become great friends of mine (that is, if they weren’t my friend in the first place). The people are definitely a huge motivation for me. 

Trend: How do you infuse your culture into your business?

Deschamps: I am Filipino and French, so community, family, hospitality and inclusivity is huge to me. I just want everyone to feel like they are able to embrace their true selves with the clothes they wear and the friendships they make.


Southern Adventist University is a private, Seventh-day Adventist college located in Collegedale, Tennessee, with a total of 2,730 students currently enrolled. To learn more, visit the website here, follow here or check out the student newspaper here