Ryan McElhinney '19 and Lindsey Reeth '19 launched the online marketplace in 2017 to provide artists a platform to sell their work.
Alumni Ryan McElhinney ’19 and Lindsey Reeth ’19 uncover new artists every day for their business, the Student-Made Store. The entrepreneurs started the store back in 2017 when they began to notice creativity among their communities and have continued running it ever since, even after graduation last May.
“At first, we noticed that a few people we knew had some really impressive creative talent without much of a channel to share it with other people,” McElhinney said. “These students jump at the opportunity to show their work to other students at Elon in a very eager way, like there was no other way they have a chance to do that.”
McElhinney says he and Reeth had two main aspirations when developing the store: to provide an outlet for students to channel their creativity as well as to help them gain confidence “in turning what they love into a viable business opportunity.”
The Student-Made Store has given almost 50 students the chance to showcase their work and connect them with other students and faculty that love their products. “And even cooler, we’ve seen some students who were sure nobody would be interested in buying their art sell out of dozens of products within two hours,” McElhinney said.
At the Student Made-Store’s first opening in December 2017, the store quickly sold $1,600 in products from 15 sellers. For McElhinny, this confirmed that the idea for the student store had “actually become a reality” and by the second opening in December 2018, McElhinny realized that the store had room to scale and grow into something bigger.
Now, the Student Made Store has its own website — www.studentmadestore.com — and will have its third annual Holiday Market on Dec. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. in McKinnon Hall. McElhinny anticipates this event to be the biggest yet and hopes to be in attendance himself.
Beyond the Student-Made Store, McElhinny wants to spread Elon’s creativity outside of the Phoenix community and even to other colleges to create a “campus network of art” so that students everywhere can support each other and their different styles as well as help them gain professional experience.
“We hope to make this concept a part of entrepreneurship programs at colleges, where students have a chance to get hands-on experience managing sales, marketing, communication, design, event planning, accounting, and so on,” he said.