From classroom to commerce: Recent BGSU grad's small business venture sees data-driven success

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A woman stands in front of a clothing rack.
Using skills she picked up as a BGSU student, Andrea Kirkendall '24 turned a hobby into a small business idea that completely covered her college expenses during her senior year.

Using skills learned in her business analytics and intelligence program and the Life Design program, Andrea Kirkendall ’24 turned her thrifting hobby into a thriving side business

During her undergraduate studies at Bowling Green State University, Andrea Kirkendall ’24 sometimes opted for extra homework.

While she was learning business analytics and intelligence in the classroom, Kirkendall also was applying the skills and techniques she was learning to a burgeoning small business idea that paid big dividends prior to graduation day.

Kirkendall, a native of Waynesfield, Ohio, near Lima, turned her love of thrifting into a side business called Queen Bee’s Vintage, which curates and resells vintage clothing. She eventually further expanded and improved her business as she learned data visualization skills and software like Microsoft Power BI as a BGSU student.

“As I was learning data visualization, I started using my own business data as extra practice outside of my homework,” she said. “I would practice using Power BI to create data analysis reports to help me understand it better. It helped me learn what I was doing in school even more, but it also helped with my business by learning what was selling the best and what had the highest margins.

“I think that’s why the business really took off my senior year – I was applying all those concepts that I was learning in class.”

By the time Kirkendall made it to her senior year, her business completely covered her college expenses after scholarship awards.

The experience of turning a hobby into a business was a rewarding one for Kirkendall, who simply enjoyed shopping for vintage clothing and, without any expectations, started an account on Depop, a secondhand fashion marketplace.

“I really loved thrifting just as a hobby and became really interested in vintage clothes, and after a while, I had some extra clothes that I had thrifted and didn’t need anymore, so I thought, ‘I could try to sell these,’” she said. “My sophomore year, I started the shop and just thought I’ll see what happens, but within a month, I realized this could be an actual business that helps me pay for school, so I kept trying to build it up.”

Kirkendall’s freshman year at BGSU coincided with the launch of the Life Design program, which empowers students to maximize their college experience and build a network during college through design-thinking principles.

By taking BGSU 1910, the first-year Life Design seminar that introduces prototyping and taking action on interests both inside and outside the classroom, Kirkendall began exploring a side business during her undergraduate career, including coming up with the name that became Queen Bee’s Vintage.

Gabe Dunbar, the assistant director of Geoffrey H. Radbill Center for College and Life Design who taught Kirkendall’s section of BGSU 1910, said she became an example of how the program can help a student find success during their college journey.

“Andrea was a highly motivated student and still found the benefit of getting support from a Life Design coach,” he said. “Andrea’s journey was uniquely hers and investing in personal interests helped her cultivate entrepreneurial mindsets and pay for college along the way.”

Applying skills learned in her degree program and Life Design to Queen Bee’s Vintage proved to be an all-win situation for Kirkendall.

In addition to gaining real-world experience that helped her secure her first job – she’s now a business intelligence developer at Crown Equipment – she funded her education and expanded a goal of promoting secondhand shopping that practices sustainable clothing practices.

“Thrifting started out as a hobby for me, but a big reason why I continued to do it and at a larger scale was the sustainability aspect,” she said. “After I learned about how much used clothing gets sent to landfills and the ethical issues in the fashion industry, I wanted to start shopping secondhand as much as I could. Besides helping me pay for school, the goal of my shop is to help keep clothes out of landfills and encourage others to shop secondhand.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | | 419-372-6349

Updated: 06/05/2024 11:06AM