Using your education to your advantage: Q&A with a young entrepreneur

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Most of the business majors I’ve known have gone from university into the corporate world, bypassing any ideas of working for themselves.

I wonder why they do not opt to start their own businesses, based on the fact that their education can benefit various facets of the business world.

Guelph University business marketing alumnus Hattie Dunstan is a diamond in the rough. She has applied her formal education to help her business, Got Hattitude, which sells one-of-a-kind jewelry, become more popular.

Q. Did your degree give you the idea to start up your business?
A. I had started my business a few years prior to starting University, but my degree has helped launch my business full time. It has allowed me to market, brand and given me so many more ideas to help organize and infrastructure my business to compete on a full time level.

Q. Have you used your degree to help promote and develop Got Hattitude?
A. I have used my degree to develop Hattitude so much. It is so much fun to see how I started off five years ago, to what I am doing now with marketing Hattitude to the world. It has allowed me to brand my products.

I think marketing is the key to any business. I’ve seen some companies with an okay product, but they have marketed and branded themselves like crazy and are one of the top sellers.

I’m lucky since Hattitude is such a unique and one-of-a-kind product, it’s easy to market it and brand it to make the jewellery popular as well.

Q. What do you want to see from your company in the next year? Five years?
A. I would like to one day open a retail clothing and jewellery store, where Hattitude can be sold with the perfect outfit to match the jewellery. I love fashion, and although I think it would be awesome to create my own clothes, for now I think opening up a retail clothing store with local designers and also having an outlet to sell my own jewellery would be amazing, and is my long term goal.

Q. What words of advice do you have for other students and young grads who want to start their own business?
A. Follow through. Don’t give up. It’s so hard at first, and some people quit when they are not making enough money or things are not working fast enough. Businesses take time and effort and energy, and more hard work then a regular 9-5 job.

Even after a work day is over, I am still working on my business, whether it’s researching fashion on the Internet in my spare time, or imagining new designs, owning and running your own business takes more time and energy then you possibly could think.

Someone once told me that it takes 5 years to finally break even, and 10 years to start making money in your business. I also think it takes 10 years to build a customer and loyalty branding base. So it starts off slow, but when it picks up, it’s so worth being your own boss.

It’s exhilarating knowing that you’ve created all this work. Every new idea and new output that you come up with and implement is so exciting. When it’s a success the feeling is like no other knowing that you are the one that created it!

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About the author

Danielle Lorenz is a long-time contributor to the Career Incubator. Danielle is a PhD student in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Alberta. When procrastinating from schoolwork, you will find Danielle lurking on several social media platforms and trying to befriend the snowshoe hares on the U of A campus.