Pandemic Pushes Student Entrepreneurs to Find Creative Solutions

Landscape by Kade West (Instagram @kds.krafts)

Necessity is the mother of invention and a harbinger of new ventures. The coronavirus pandemic has opened the door for Queens University students to become new entrepreneurs, coming up with business-savvy solutions to today’s extraordinary problems.

“How can we help?” was the question Isabella Stechert, a Queens senior from Florida, asked when she learned of the nation’s medical supply shortages for healthcare workers battling the pandemic.

Stechert, a skilled seamstress from her days in high school, took up the sewing machine and got to work creating face masks. Before she knew it, her social media was blowing up and she began receiving mask orders from New York, Las Vegas, and big businesses like plant nurseries and veterinary clinics.

Stechert now sells the $5 masks directly from her Instagram (@bellastechert) and has rediscovered her high school hobby has now become a useful and profitable venture, putting economics back into the “home economics’’ where she learned her skills.

The pandemic may have cast a shadow of fear on communities, but where there is darkness, creativity’s light of opportunity has illuminated a path for Queens’s local artists.

For senior Kadie West, stress has been repurposed as fuel for her eco-conscious, sustainable artworks now for sale on her Instagram (@kds.krafts). West’s conversion of emotions and physical materials into art is a testament to her passions for helping people, the Earth and finding balance amidst the chaos. Despite the negative impact of the 24/7 news cycle, West said that this pandemic has sparked her entrepreneurial spirit and drive to share her optimism through her art.

Izabella Harvey (Etsy shop @Pinsandpostersco)

Fellow artist and senior “Izabella-with-a-Z” Harvey has also forged her skills in the fire of emotional turmoil, stoked by the pandemic. Named after Jimi Hendrix’s anthem “Izabella,” Harvey follows her artistic namesake by creating woven bracelets, digital prints and collages, and sells them on her Etsy shop (@Pinsandpostersco). Before the pandemic, Harvey felt stunted. She blamed her artistic slump on a lack of time and guts. During the lockdown, she said, she “finally found the courage” to translate her artistic passion into digital retail.

The pandemic eight ball may read “reply hazy, please try again” with each shake. But for these Queens entrepreneurs, the future reads “outlook good.”

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.