Feb. 15, 2023 — During the pandemic lockdown, Alejandra Metz ’23 found a creative outlet to combat boredom: decorating and painting designs on smartphone cases. Her colorful, whimsical designs were a big hit with her friends in the Dominican Republic, who scooped up the cases. With encouragement from her friends and family, Metz started selling the one-of-a-kind phone cases, turning a fun hobby into a small-business venture.
Metz recently organized an opportunity for other NMH students to share their own creative ventures: the first ever Student Entrepreneurship Fair, held on Feb. 12 in Grandin Hall. The fair, which Metz put together with support from the NMH Student Activities Office and her friends, showcased the ventures of more than a dozen students who have small businesses, have undertaken passion projects, or are working to support nonprofit organizations and other causes that are important to them.
“I felt like bringing all of these students together to show everyone what they’re doing themselves could be a really successful event,” said Metz, who came to NMH last fall as a postgraduate student. At NMH, she said, she’s found a community that not only supports education in the classroom but encourages students to try new things and start their own initiatives. “If you really enjoy what you are doing, then other people will always support you here.”
Metz organized the fair for National Entrepreneurship Week, which celebrates entrepreneurship and the core values of diversity, inclusion, equity, education, and collaboration necessary for entrepreneurs to succeed.
Like Metz, Kaia Swamp ’25 and Cassandra Tung ’23 have started small businesses from their creative hobbies. Swamp makes bracelets and other jewelry from beads and crystals, and Tung creates jeweled charms and wrist straps for smartphones.
“As a kid, I always liked art and making stuff, and I always wanted to make my own money,” Tung said. “I take custom orders with preferences for colors or bead style, or I’ll put people’s names on the charms. I have also sold my work at a physical store back home in Hong Kong.”
Tung donated all profits from her sales during the student entrepreneur fair to two charities, one providing direct relief to earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria and another that supports mental health in young people.
In a nearby booth, NMH Peer Educator Leilani Aires ’24 shared information about “Learning Bloom,” a website she created to support neurodivergent students with ADHD. In addition to providing educational resources and raising awareness, Aires also hopes to create an online community.
“I want students to know that they don’t have to fix themselves,” she said. “My goal is to help people understand that just because their mind works differently, they do not need fixing. Instead, it is the environment in which students find themselves that oftentimes lack the necessary support and resources they need to succeed both in and outside of school that needs to be fixed. ‘Learning Bloom’ is a place where [students with ADHD] have a community where they can learn more about themselves and find ways to succeed and, most importantly, thrive.”
Two booths down, Wyatt Amos ’25 showed a short film that he made with his sister documenting people’s experiences with addiction. It’s part of a larger project called Alternate Addiction. “It’s a platform for people dealing with addiction that is different from Alcoholics Anonymous,” he said. “I wanted to create a new way for people to express themselves that’s more creative.”
Other student ventures included graphic clothing designs; two student-run podcasts, including one that features interviews with members of the NMH community; and sales of stickers — designed with images of lighthouses, beaches, and boats — to support the Martha’s Vineyard Land Trust.