FAYETVILLE — Warrenesha Arnold tried to start and run a business from home, but found it inappropriate.
Then I found a workspace at the University of Arkansas Startup Village in Fayetteville.
The Startup Village, which provides free co-working spaces for seed-stage ventures in downtown Fayetteville, helped Arnold establish boundaries between work, school, and home life.
Arnold, a senior at UA’s Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and founder of Nyarai Skin Care, said: “When I’m here, I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m just thinking about business.”
Junior Grace Underfanger, who is studying graphic design and business, had a similar experience.
Working outside her room “wasn’t the best environment to work in,” she said.
“Coffee shops have a lot of distractions, but it’s a dedicated work environment and I’m incredibly productive here,” Underfanger said of Startup Village.
The Startup Village is available ’24/7′ and has a dedicated workspace for your belongings.
“You don’t have to move everything every time [you work]and being able to be here in the middle of the night if needed is very helpful,” says Underfanger, founder of Crimson Fox Design Co.
Nyarai Skin Care and Crimson Fox Design Co. are the latest companies to emerge from the Startup Village, which opened in November 2019.
For Arnold, who majors in human nutrition and nutrition, her own skincare challenges inspired her to start her company, which offers vegan-based products to fight acne, dark spots, scars, and fine lines. I got
The county seat of Lee County, Arnold’s hometown of Marianna, has a population of 3,575, so access to skincare products is limited, especially for darker-skinned individuals. There weren’t even dermatologists in town. So Arnold was basically left to her own device to treat her skin problems, she said. It took me six months to arrive at the mixture that solved the problem.
“I started with soap and then moved on to face masks,” she said. Realizing what I could do, I launched my business in 2020 with a customer base that was primarily made up of people I knew from home.
Since then, she’s expanded into college communities and northwest Arkansas and continues to add products to her line.
“It’s growing well.”
She sees Nyalai Skincare as a “service” because healthier skin gives women back their “confidence”. [but] I went through it and it made me feel better. You can see their spirits uplifted when their skin looks good. ”
Currently, Arnold’s most popular products are cleansers, face oils, and “full essential kits,” but she’s planning to launch several new products in the coming months. See nyaraiskincare.com.
Lessons in entrepreneurship
Arnold’s weekends are dominated by work, and “I don’t think of them as ‘rest’,” but that’s “no problem,” she said. As an entrepreneur, she “must be self-disciplined and consistent.”
Arnold wants to be a role model for others and hopes they will follow their own ambitions towards entrepreneurship.
“I encourage others to get involved, but they have to take their business seriously,” she said. She “uses opportunities such as workshops to build skills, invest in the business, [not only with money] but on your time. ”
Arnold, who is graduating in May, plans to pursue a graduate degree in human nutrition while continuing to expand her business, she said.
Specialists in apparel merchandise design, Underfanger has worked with national brands and local businesses. She founded the company to help businesses connect and nurture their communities.
She worked in the graphic design industry for years, but when she lost her job as a result of the pandemic’s layoffs and still “wanted a creative outlet,” she went independent. I got help and advice from an entrepreneurship incubator in the capital of Illinois. This allowed her to narrow her business focus and emphasize the importance of developing her customers.
Underfanger was lured to UA-Fayetteville by a graphic design program and has several clients through college, she said. She also has her website, crimsonfoxdesignco.com, where she primarily markets via her social media, especially her TikTok.
“I’m looking forward to taking some of my designs and physically printing them,” she said, visiting the university’s print lab during the spring semester. [manifest] Because you can learn things in the printing process and show it to the client instead of just a mockup,” she said.
Underfanger also aims to connect with more potential customers, saying, “A lot of business repeats, so all you need is a couple.”
She said she is already working with Hill Records, a label run by the university’s students. It included pitching for an upcoming album project with the troupe.
Both Arnold and Underfanger are “very clearly committed and know their business is important to them and that being here enhances it,” said the university’s entrepreneur. said Phil Schellhammer, Senior Director of Business Incubation at the Office of Spirit and Innovation. “Both of them are making the most of this space and we hope that students like them will find us here.”
“I love finding resources and am a motivated go-getter. College has been very helpful,” said Arnold. “That’s how I found out about Startup Village.”
“Surrounded by Support”
Arnold and Underfanger’s operations will join several others in 2021, including Rejoicy, which will be set up in a startup village in the historic Huscock Building on the corner of Brock Avenue and Dixon Street, the Office of Communications and Social Media. Specialist Brandon Howard said. of entrepreneurship and innovation.
Co-founded by UA-Fayetteville alumni Luke Brown and Edwin Ortiz, Rejoicy helps business owners drive online sales by providing a fast and affordable way to create websites.
Sharing space with the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at the University of Arkansas, the Startup Village will offer reservable desks and office space, as well as shared services such as meeting rooms, kitchens, printers, Wi-Fi, phones and mailboxes. To do. , according to Howard.
Companies that opened in 2019 – Lapovations and MORE Technologies have already “graduated” from the space after starting there – are selected through a competitive annual membership application process, with 6 or 6 leases. It spans months and can span up to a year.
“The storage space and kitchen are very useful, especially when you’re here for a few hours,” said Underfanger, who spends at least 15 hours a week in the village.
Affiliating with a university is “the first thing we look for” in the application, and “we want people who are actually in this space and use it to add to the community,” Shellhammer said. “I want people here because they’re dedicated to their business and I want casual conversation and interaction between people in the building because they learn from each other every time.”
“Networking” within the Village is one of the most important elements for Arnold, she said. For example, in her village she met Underfanger and helped her package some skin care products.
“had [ability] To create what she needed,” Underfanger said.
Underfanger, she said, benefits from the relationships it develops within Startup Village and the advice it receives from fellow entrepreneurs. “I’m a very introverted person, but I’m trying to be more open. There’s no co-worker drama here because we’re all trying to do the same thing.”
At Startup Village, she added, “we keep morale high by encouraging each other.” “It may be difficult to balance business, school and part-time work, [encouragement] continue you ”
Schellhammer said it would be best to share a floor of the building with the Arkansas small business and technology development center. “We want founders to feel surrounded by support,” he said.
He said one of the biggest hurdles for startups is the lack of office space, which Startup Village is trying to remedy with flexible spaces that can serve single founders or small groups. There are also meeting rooms and more “casual and friendly” meeting spaces.
“Where to meet clients” is a problem faced by startups, so the meeting rooms at Startup Village meet an important need, he said. Without it, “you can rent an expensive space or try a coffee shop, but it’s not always the most professional” – plus there’s ambient noise.
“There’s flexibility here, so you can make the space here whatever you want,” he said. For example, MORE Technologies “had a bank of 3D printers here.”
Shellhammer likes to see startup villages as “a coworking community, not a coworking space.” The reason, he said, is that the interaction between entrepreneurs is as important, if not more, than the space itself.
“We’re not perfect yet, because we’re still out of Corona”–a time when a lot of office space was abandoned because people worked from home–“but we’ve got some is likely [for spring] The opportunities here are great. ”