Quarantine hobbies become thriving small businesses

The inside scoop on handmade campus craftsmanship

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Handmade jewelry from "Earrings by Ashley" | Photo courtesy of Ashley Hilary '22

The isolation of the pandemic inspired a number of artistic and business-minded Muhlenberg students to start their own small businesses, with a number of these businesses taking off across the school’s social landscape, and evolving and growing from hobbies into a deep dive into beginner entrepreneurship.

“I started crocheting in March of 2020! It was a quarantine hobby turned obsession,” says Chrissy Nagrowski ‘22, who founded a handmade clothing business called ‘Hooked On Chrissy.’ “I spent literally every waking minute doing it, just making whatever I could. It got to the point where I had so much stuff that I really didn’t want so I decided to start selling it.”

Naturally, creators were eager to take to social media to spread the word, and to try to connect people with their products. Nagrowski, in reference to their own business’s social media presence, continued, “My sister and I run the page and it’s truly a hoot. The target audience is definitely fellow 18-24 year olds for sure. I do get the occasional inquiry from my mom’s friends, but mostly peers.”

Nagrowski isn’t the only creator whose handmade art is stunning Muhlenberg students. Ashley Hilary ‘22, founded “Earrings By Ashley,” now titled “chasing westphalia” in the 2019-2020 school year, and has been ecstatic to see its following expand and grow throughout the lockdown. 

“It started as a little project at Muhlenberg my sophomore year because I didn’t have a job and a few people asked for commissions,” explained Hilary. “People were really excited about the earrings so I just kept on making them! It was really nice and gave me a productive purpose outside of school.”

According to Hilary, “chasing westphalia” has an ever-changing target audience, which, according to sales, has statistically included queer creators and shoppers between 16 to 30 years of age.

These creators are looking to the future with high hopes for their business prospects, each with their own set of plans for the spring 2022 semester. Hilary is keen on “trying to finish at least one more collection online and do two In person art sales.” As for Nagrowski, the ideal move is to “just keep taking custom orders! I am super happy to be selling a large amount of stock at the student art sale on the 12th in Seegers [Union]…[and] I just love taking custom orders and working with people to make exactly what they want! I just like to make enough money to fill my gas tank to go to JoAnn’s, and to see my friends rock some handmade art!” 

“I started crocheting in March of 2020! It was a quarantine hobby turned obsession.”

-Chrissy Nagrowski ’22

All in all, the Muhlenberg community has proven resilient in its effort to create a nurturing community where initiatives for student creativity are able to blossom and thrive to their fullest potentials. 

“I am so lucky to have friends who just love everything I make,” says Nagrowski. “I do not really keep as much stock as I used to. I almost always just do custom orders…about five at a time, and that is way more fun for me than big stock drops.”

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Danny Milkis
Danny Milkis '23 is a Media & Communication student at Muhlenberg who has a specific interest in writing and journalism. In high school, he took part in extracurricular writing whenever possible, and received a Metropolitan Award nomination for his work as a Student Performing Arts Critic. He is ecstatic to have joined the staff of talented writers and editors at the Muhlenberg Weekly, and is excited to learn from this wonderful group of knowledgeable individuals throughout his time at Muhlenberg.

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