Juggling academics and being a CEO of a small business would be too much to handle for many students, but Shippensburg University alumna Leah Mottershead and senior Cassy Cohen manage to defeat the odds as they work on getting their degrees while owning a company.
Mottershead owns two companies, Grad Caps by Le and Unleashed LLC. She started Grad Caps by Le in high school as a hobby, doing about seven caps for friends at the time. She continued to decorate and design graduation caps free of charge until her sophomore year at SU when a friend offered to pay $50 for her work.
News spread about Mottershead’s handmade graduation caps and students quickly direct messaged (DM’ed) her for her rates.
“Somebody else saw the grad cap I did and he was like ‘I need you to make me one’ since his previous cap did not look great. So I charged $30 and I redid his cap,” Mottershead said. “So then I just started doing it every semester and that’s kind of how it took off.”
Motterhead went from doing two caps a semester to 27, making a profit of $50 per cap. The majority of the earnings goes toward buying craft supplies in bulk at Michaels.
When she was not making 40 orders of graduation caps, Mottershead focused on her studies and extracurriculars. Mottershead graduated last December with a degree in human resources management and was the president of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) and was a member of the Latino Culture Club.
On top of that, she studied to be a certified lash technician in order to start her second company, Unleashed LLC.
“I always wanted to do lashes, I started [to] get into lashes about two and a half years ago,” Mottershead said. “I have had over a hundred clients in the past year.”
Mottershead finds the majority of her lash clients based in her hometown of Abington, Pennsylvania. At Shippensburg, Mottershead works out of her student apartment.
“I see [my clients] every two to three weeks. They never skip a beat and there are some people that just want lashes done for a party or a [special] occasion,” Mottershead said.
Cohen found her passion for photography in high school but only got her first camera when she was a freshman at SU. Since then, Cohen’s photography company Cassandra Jade Photography has taken off.
“I have taken a couple [photos] of people’s birthdays and Kappa Beta Gamma’s graduation photoshoot,” Cohen said. “Now I work with a company, it’s called Dreamer’s Hollow and [they] hired me as their photographer.”
Cohen is majoring in psychology with a criminal justice minor. Originally, she wanted to be a behavioral scientist but decided to change her career path to professional photography.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Americans are starting new businesses at the fastest rate in more than a decade, taking advantage of the quarantine.
During the COVID-19 coronavirus quarantine, Cohen created her second business Gemstone Hippie Co. A homemade crystal jewelry company inspired from Cohen’s interest in the healing properties in crystals.
“So honestly it just started as a hobby. I wanted some cool crystal necklaces over quarantine. So I was like, all right, I am going to make them for myself,” Cohen said. “Then I went to work every day and I would always wear my crystal [necklaces] and my coworkers said, ‘those are cool, can I have one?’ I was like, yeah and I started to make [more] and then all of a sudden I had orders.”
The crystal necklaces include rose quartz, carnelian and jade. The necklaces cost $10 and can be customized by the customer’s crystal of choice.
Cohen officially launched Gemstone Hippie Co.’s website: www.gemstonehippico.com during the winter break. Before then, she had taken product orders via Instagram direct message (DM).
“I have shipped a few thousand [items] to people across [the nation],” Cohen said.
Cohen has halted some production of Gemstone Hippie Co. in order to maintain her grades. But she will soon be able to refocus on selling and packing more items.
Even with the pressures of academia and financial issues due to the pandemic, Mottershead and Cohen continue to push forward with their businesses, establishing a strong work ethic and determination.