Students at Montclair State University are no strangers to starting their own businesses. While it can be quite difficult for some to complete semesters, these students work hard to perfect their crafts and products while studying their courses.
Zenobia Pogue, a senior animation and illustration graduate, knows exactly how rewarding and challenging running a business can be.
Pogue has always had a passion for illustration since she was young, but started creating and selling stickers and prints of her own designs in 2018. After posting her illustrations on her social media accounts and receiving positive feedback, she began to create more models to sell. Last year, Pogue decided to expand their product line and create acrylic key chains with their designs.
Since posting her designs, Pogue has used her social media accounts to build an interactive relationship with her clients. She posts her designs with Instagram polls to get a glimpse of what customers might like.
Pogue also draws inspiration for his designs from everyday life and concepts his friends enjoy.
“Wherever I am, whatever I do, [design ideas] a little bit of chance always comes to me, ”Pogue said. “I [might] see something or have a random idea and write it down so that 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 collection of frogs inspired by the TikTok aesthetic like the cowboy and cottagecore frogs.
The students particularly appreciated the purchase of his key chains. Sabrina Duroseau, a senior animation and illustration graduate, purchased stickers, key chains 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.”
Following the success of its products on social media, Pogue began to expand its customer base by selling its products on Etsy, an online marketplace that focuses on handicrafts and other crafts.
Although she mainly sells to students and people her age, she hopes to gain more customers and in the future use platforms like Big Cartel, which is more follower-based. Pogue aims to provide its customers with a personal shopping experience when they purchase any of its products.
“I get excited when I get an order,” Pogue said. “I always try to take the time to make a little doodle and a little note before sending it. There is a little care that goes into it. “
Some Pogue customers have formed new friendships after purchasing their products. Alicia Gaines, a Rutgers University graduate, has purchased stickers and prints from Pogue and finds these items a great starting point for a conversation.
“Her merchandise is perfect for showing the things you love to others, and I feel like it’s a great way to make friends with the same interests as you,” Gaines said.
While Pogue has had some success using social media to gauge what customers would like to see, using the app hasn’t always been smooth. Pogue has had issues in the past with overproducing products based on comments given on Instagram.
“The hardest thing so far has certainly been to do [an item] after checking the interest, then [seeing that] people don’t buy it, ”Pogue said.
Despite these challenges, Pogue still enjoys providing customers with this interactive experience. Since her keychain designs are relatively new and require a more complex design process, she is not looking to expand her product line yet.
“I mainly produce stickers and prints because that’s what’s easiest, and I feel like you can keep them cheap enough that people will always buy them,” Pogue said. “Everyone loves to buy stickers. You can put them on your laptop, computer or water bottle.
While Pogue enjoys receiving orders for his products, his business goals don’t necessarily revolve around sales. She wants to focus on the passion for her designs and the products she creates.
“It’s just something that I love to do and if I’m able to make a sale that’s great,” Pogue said. “It makes me super happy. I wish I could have a bigger store and eventually move to platforms like Big Cartel. “
Pogue hopes to invest in creating Pins and selling them on their sites and social media accounts in the near future. Students can view and purchase Pogue products on its Etsy site by searching Zenobiart.