Being a college student is a full-time job. Owning a small business is also hard work, yet some Ohio University attendees do both. Full-time student and run a small business; talk about ambition.
Meet Paige Kirby. She is currently a senior at Ohio University, majoring in journalism, specifically strategic communication, with a minor in retail fashion management. In June 2020, she opened an online store titled Whatever Makes You Happy.
Summer 2020, Kirby’s internship was canceled due to COVID-19. Turning her loss into an opportunity, she decided there was no better time to launch her dream. Whatever Makes You Happy has been an idea of Kirby's since sophomore year. Last summer, she took a leap of faith and brought it to life.
The Post sat down with Kirby to talk about her online store and what it's like running a small business.
The Post: What is Whatever Makes You Happy and why did you open up the business?
Kirby: I started it because I was sucked into Instagram trends. I felt like I wasn't fashionable unless I looked like the influencers I saw. Or thinking, "to look good in these clothes, I need to lose weight, or I need to have this type of body." My line is tighter to loose form-fitting clothes. They highlight your silhouette instead of making you think that you need to be somebody else. You should be able to wear whatever the hell makes you happy instead of trying to conform.
TP: What inspires the style of Whatever Makes You Happy?
Kirby: There is a ton of criteria that goes into it. I think what will be flattering on the most body types, affordable price range and good quality. I do a launch about once a month. For every launch, I like to incorporate three things: something comfortable, something to go out in and something you can make your own. My latest launch has unique pieces that I think my audience will love.
TP: Do you have any goals for the boutique in 2021?
Kirby: Funny you ask that. Last year, I didn't set any goals because I was new. My initial plan was to sell to somebody I didn't know. I hit that my second week. So I would say the number one goal for 2021 is to make more of a profit. I am graduating this spring and I don't want my store as a side hustle. I need to figure out how to make it something to transition from a hobby into a business that will support me.
TP: What is the greatest challenge of owning a small business?
Kirby: It's a challenge balancing trying to support myself while running this business that doesn't support me yet. I have not paid myself and I am in much debt. This can't be my only job right now. I'm working two on-campus jobs and I had a winter job. It's also challenging to figure out how to expand. I'm on the verge of being profitable, but I need to expand, and I can't do so right now.
TP: And what is the greatest reward?
Kirby: The greatest reward is the feeling that other women think like me. I went into it being like, "no, that's what I want, not so much other women." But I realize, many different women think their fashion styles are not represented on social media or boutiques.
TP: Bonus question, what is your favorite part of Athens?
Kirby: I love how OU is Athens and Athens is OU. They wouldn't exist without each other. They are so codependent, I think that is really great. That's just one of the many things I love about Athens.