Entrepreneurship is a major at USC Upstate, but some students are putting it into practice outside the classroom. It’s a way to earn money doing something they enjoy while working on a degree. A few have even changed majors to learn more about the intricacies of running your own business. Below are some of the products and services students offer to the campus community – and beyond.

Amaya Brockington '23

Handmade bracelets, anklets, necklaces and waist beads

What began as a pandemic pastime for Amaya Brockington has grown into a steady business for the community health major. She had struggled to find bracelets that wouldn’t slide off her thin wrists, so she decided to learn how to make her own during the free time created by the COVID shutdown. She uses marble beads or gemstones for her bracelets, necklaces and anklets, and creates customized waist beads based on a customer’s specifications. While women are her primary customers, she says her bracelets are popular with men, too. Her advice to other budding entrepreneurs is to believe in yourself and not be afraid to get started. “It’s nice to be my own boss and make my own money,” she says.

Zaria Benson

Clothing and trucker hats (SixteenTwentyClothing)

Zaria Benson got her first job at 16, but quickly realized she’d rather be in business for herself than work for someone else. She had always loved fashion, so she invested her paychecks into purchasing some ballcaps and accessories for women to resell under the name 16.20 Clothing, reflecting her age and the year when she got started. To expand her clientele, she added shirts, trucker hats and hoodies that she began branding with her own designs and logo. Her foam trucker hats are currently her most popular item, and before each new design release, Benson posts photos of the different colors and styles on her social media accounts. Customers can then pre-order what they want. An entrepreneurship major, Benson admits it’s been difficult to balance her schoolwork and small business. “This is something I have to take seriously, but at the same time I have to stay in my books,” she says.

Cameron Smith '22, M.S. '23

Photography (@camxyou)

Cameron Smith has been experimenting with photography ever since he found an old camera in his dad’s closet five years ago. While he didn’t have a specific interest in the field, he wanted to do something creative, and discovered he loved expressing himself through film. Free photo shoots for clients in the Charleston area, where he’s from, enabled him to build up a portfolio on Instagram and find a following among recording artists and clothing brands. Sometimes his clients have a specific look they want to achieve, other times they need help figuring something out. Either way, Smith is happy to collaborate and create something striking. “That is the fortunate part about starting a side business in college,” he says. “It’s the only time in your life where you’re able to go out there and take a chance on something.”

Thailyn Williams

Candied fruits, baked goods, and other sweet treats (@thaitastytreats_)

Thailyn Williams was looking for something to do during the pandemic when a church member offered to teach her how to make candied apples. That launched the then-high school student on a small business venture that has expanded to include baked goods and other confections. Now in her second year at Upstate, Williams sells her popular chocolate-covered strawberries, candied fruits, gusher grapes and other sweet treats via her Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook pages. Her mother helps her manage the business and inspects Williams’ products to make sure they’re high quality. The experience has inspired Williams to change her major from nursing to business entrepreneurship. She says she’s learned that having your own business is “always trial and error,” but “just don’t give up and make sure you find someone who’s going to support you through it.”