Student entrepreneurs ready to plan for the future, learn from today’s leaders
COB’s Women in Entrepreneurship Week event gives students an opportunity to interact with local business owners, ask questions and learn from experience.
The theme of the day was “Anything is Possible.” And Jackie Hollier-Jackson — a Quicken Loans intern and then UM-Dearborn freshman — decided that she was going to make the most of her invite to Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert’s famed corporate retreat, dubbed the Family Reunion. With business cards in hand, her aim was to meet nearly everyone in the room.
“My friends couldn't believe I was talking to someone new every 10 minutes. But I had an opportunity and it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and live in your learning zone,” said Hollier-Jackson, now a senior majoring in international studies. “You need to build your network.”
Hollier-Jackson has been working on her network and business communications skills since she was a 7-year-old making and selling jewelry in Detroit’s Youth Artist Market.
“I had my sales pitch ready before people walked up. I practiced with my parents,” she said. “At 7, a motivator was kettle-style popcorn. My mom told me we’d get some if I sold $50 in jewelry. Since that was $5, it meant I had at least $45 to bring home to save, invest in my business or buy a toy I wanted. And, more importantly, I learned about delayed gratification and working toward goals.”
Today, Hollier-Jackson, who will be among the first to earn the College of Business entrepreneurship minor, still sells jewelry: Made by JacqueleneJacks. She’d like to continue to design her pieces and grow her business, or to expand an established brand that has high-end accessories, but no jewelry line, like Coach.
She’s always with business card in hand and looking for advice, tips and new connections to add to her network. This week, a new Women in Entrepreneurship event is a highlighted entry on her calendar.
The Women Entrepreneurship Week (WEW) Panel Discussions and Pop-up Event, which takes place from 12:30 to 6 p.m. in Fairlane Center South’s East Michigan Room, includes nearly 20 female business owners coming to campus to speak with students.
The globally celebrated WEW takes place during the third week in October and aims to connect successful female founders with college-age women, said COB Assistant Dean Crystal Scott. Male entrepreneurs outnumber females two-to-one, with research showing that this occurs, in part, because there is a lack of female role models, she said.
“There is a global movement to recognize female business owners and give students a chance to learn from their example. With the continued growth of our entrepreneurship program, we also wanted to grow the experiential learning opportunities we offer students,” said Scott, marketing associate professor. “It also is a way to collaborate with community businesses and support the local business ecosystem.”
Hollier-Jackson said she’s eager to hear about female owners’ experiences and ask them questions about branding choices, social media representation and marketing strategies.
“Everyone needs someone to look up to, and I want to learn from other women who have successful businesses,” she said. “My entrepreneurship classes have already taught me so much: planning for production costs, having a polished and coordinated team appearance, securing venture funds. All of this experience is making me better in the long run.”
So what’s her long-term goal?
“To be honest, the goal I’m completely focused on is walking across the stage and getting my degree next semester,” she said with a laugh. “Beyond that, it is really about making a difference. Teaching others what I have learned — while adding a little Made by Jacquelene Jacks sparkle to their lives — and being in a place where I can support others in meeting their dreams. That’s the end goal. I want people to know that with drive and determination, anything is possible.”