Your Story, Your Words

Student Venture: Entrepreneur on a Budget

Yelitsa and the Healthy Roots team

Yelitsa and the Healthy Roots team

Being an entrepreneur cost money– money I don’t have. While my Fellowship awards us funding for the project during the summer, I’d like to save that for developing the doll. So my team and I recently spent time trying to stretch our dollars for our booth at the SEEED Summit.

To save money we printed our own shirts and pamphlets. I know! It’s crazy. How do you print your own shirts?! Lucky we go to an art school, where we can ask our classmates for help. I’ve recognize my limitations and to be resourceful when I need to reach my goals. I don’t know how to print shirts, but I know someone who does. I also utilize my school’s facilities and materials.

Screen printing shirts is a much more simple process then one would think. All you need are your shirts, screen and fabric ink. We were able to get a large number of shirts at a discounted price and shipped the next day. We were also able to get ink on sale. My printing major friend had prepared our screen for us using a black image printed on acetate to create the exposure that would be filled with ink on the screen.

Healthy Roots tee shirt screen

Healthy Roots tee shirt screen

Having my team help with the screen printing process was important, because I don’t have eight arms and legs. There a multiple steps from inking to drying to not getting ink everywhere… Thankfully, we only ruined 5 shirts (YAY!).

Printing was a whole other issue. There are so many shops and presses on and off campus, but the quality and cost vary so drastically, you can end up broke with beautiful prints or a little less broke with “meh” prints. We ultimately had to print ourselves and reduce our cost buying our own sticker sheets and paper. It’s times like these I wonder how I can pay over $60,000 a year for an education and STILL have to pay for printing.

The day of the SEEED summit was incredibly stressful. Things didn’t run as smoothly as they should have with me looking for team members, dealing with printing errors and trying to figure out the rest of the events logistics. That’s why I am glad to have great team mates that come through when they need to and help pick up the weight. We were able to pull together a great booth, meet wonderful people and share our passion for social change through social entrepreneurship.

Yelitsa_Entrepreneur on a budget 5

Speaking with attendees during SEEED

We learned how important schedules, delegating tasks and accountability are to our success as a whole. Communication is important because we need to be able to make the most informed decisions as possible. Communication is also important, because you need to be able to be open about the stress you are dealing with. A lot of students believe they need to do many different tasks to be successful and are unable to let their professors or peers know when they are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. A successful team needs to be a healthy–both mentally and physically–and we must constantly remind ourselves to practice self care.

We have a lot of tasks  ahead of us this summer; I’m glad I team members that support each other and remind me to sleep.

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Yelitsa Jean-Charles

Yelitsa Jean-Charles

Yelitsa Jean-Charles is a student at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), studying Illustration with a concentration in gender, race and sexuality. She identifies as a visual activist, using her art to prompt discussions about race and social awareness of systematic injustices. She uses her numerous leadership roles, including President of Black Artists and Designers, Vice President of RISD Feminists and member of the Providence chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), to organize community events prompting social responsibility amongst visual artists and the work they create. Her community contributions involve teaching at Providence CityArts, organizing Black Lives Matter protests and Ferguson teach-ins, in response to national movements. Her current artistic ventures include Strangefruit, illustrations depicting images of black women merged with nature, and Healthy Roots, a doll designed to educate and empower young Blacks and combat colorism and internalized racism.

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