Montclair State University students are no stranger to starting their own business. While semesters can be difficult enough for some to get through, these students work hard to perfect their craft and products while studying their courses.
Zenobia Pogue, a senior major in animation and illustration, knows exactly how rewarding and challenging running a business can be.
Pogue had a passion for illustration from a young age but started creating and selling stickers and printing her own designs as early as 2018. After posting her illustrations on her social media accounts and receiving positive feedback, she began developing more designs to sell. Just last year, Pogue decided to expand their product range and create acrylic key chains with their designs.
Since posting her designs, Pogue has been using her social media accounts to create an interactive relationship with her clients. She publishes her designs along with Instagram polls to see what customers might like.
Pogue also draws inspiration for her designs from everyday life and the concepts that her friends like.
“Wherever I am, no matter what I do, [design ideas] always comes to me by chance somehow, âsaid Pogue. “I [might] see something or have a random idea and I write it down so I can do it later. “
Pogue’s very first sticker set, Doggos in Armor, featured different breeds of dogs in armor sets. She also created a frog collection inspired by the TikTok aesthetic, such as cowboy and cottage core frogs.
The students were particularly happy to buy their key rings. Sabrina Duroseau, a senior animation and illustration woman, has purchased stickers, key rings, and prints from Pogue.
“I have to say the cowboy frog keychain is a personal favorite,” said Duroseau. “It’s so adorable and it’s a great mix of two of my favorite things: cowboys and frogs.”
After the success of their products on social media, Pogue began expanding their clientele by selling their products on Etsy, an online marketplace that focuses on handmade items and other crafts.
While she mostly sells to students and people her age, she hopes to get more customers and use platforms like Big Cartel, which are more follower-based, in the future. Pogue wants to offer their customers a personalized shopping experience when they buy one of their products.
“I’m happy when I get an order,” said Pogue. âI always try to take the time to make a little scribble and note before I send it out. There is a little care involved. “
Some Pogue customers have made new friends after purchasing their products. Alicia Gaines, a graduate of Rutgers University, bought stickers and prints from Pogue and thinks these items are great conversation starters.
“Your merchandise is a great way to show others the things you love, and I think it’s a great way to make friends with interests similar to you,” said Gaines.
While Pogue has had some success with social media at gauging what customers want to see, using the application has not always been smooth. Pogue has had issues with overproducing products in the past based on feedback on Instagram.
âThe hardest thing so far has definitely been doing it [an item] after an interest check and then [seeing that] people don’t buy it, âsaid Pogue.
Despite these challenges, Pogue still enjoys bringing this interactive experience to its customers. Since her keychain creations are relatively new and require a more complicated process, she does not want to expand her product range just yet.
âI mostly do stickers and prints because it’s the easiest, and I feel like they can be kept cheap enough that people are still buying them,â Pogue said. âEveryone loves to buy stickers. You can put them on your laptop, computer or your water bottle. “
While Pogue enjoys taking orders for their products, their business goals don’t necessarily center around sales. She wants to focus on her passion for the designs and products that she creates.
“It’s just something I love to do, and if I can sell something, that’s great,” said Pogue. âThat makes me super happy. I would like to have a bigger shop and at some point switch to platforms like Big Cartel. “
Pogue hopes to invest in Pins creation and selling on their websites and social media accounts in the near future. Students can view and purchase Pogue’s products on their Etsy website by searching Zenobiart.