Published in


Bethel University students Zach Fisk, Ty Walls and Leonel Chavez demonstrate their entrepreneurial skill sets. Although all three pursue a different business niche, their passions for their crafts are similar.

Business in the bubble

Bethel University entrepreneurs use their creativity to pave a way to pursue their dreams and open up their own small businesses while still in school.

Story by Aaron Herbst, Tatiana Lee and Godfrey Mpetey

Photos by Katie Viesselman and Aaron Herbst

Videos by Taylor Fondie and Beret Leone

Freshman marketing major Zach Fisk dresses his dorm room in Nelson residence hall with racks filled with vintage clothing . Nelson, located on the eastern side of Bethel University, is the host of Thrift-fi-la, an Instagram store selling thrift finds.

Freshman marketing major Zach Fisk smirks as he holds up a pair of sandals in his dorm room at Bethel Monday May 14. Fisk sat as he showed many of his new purchases that he will reprice and sell off his Instagram page. | Photo by Katie Viesselman

Fisk discovered a love for thrifting clothes from his dad. He went on to create Thrift-fi-la to sell his finds across the Twin Cities.

At least three times a week, Fisk sorts through clothing racks at local Goodwill stores. Some of his greatest find comes from surfing through piles of unsorted blue bins of clothes. The owner holds position, awaits the final countdown then swiftly scans the bins for hidden treasure.

“The coolest thing I ever found was a 1960s Harley Davidson shirt. I started the auction at 99 cents. It sold for like $500.” — Zach Fisk, Bethel University freshman

Bethel University (St.Paul, MN) freshman Zach Fisk shares his journey about starting up a local thrift shopping company off instagram. He started pursuing his thrift shopping passion at a young age with his dad. Fisk holds big dreams of opening up his own shop one day.

While Fisk keeps some of his findings, most of the items he finds are bought and sold through his Instagram and eBay accounts. Some items sold for around $20–50 while other vintage pieces are sold at extreme prices.

Freshman marketing major Zach Fisk looks down at a yellow jacket he just purchased in his dorm room Monday May 15. Fisk likes flashy and bright colors, something artsy and at times something that makes a statement. | Photo by Katie Viesselman

“The coolest thing I ever found was a 1960s Harley Davidson shirt,” Fisk said. “I started the auction at 99 cents. It sold for like $500.”

For Fisk, waiting until he’s out of college isn’t the ideal path. He utilizes his desire and creativity to create his own business.

“I just wanna do me,” Fisk said. “And it’ll be dope.”

“I want to do more than make a living. I want to help people and make a difference in the world and this work is my way of serving others.” -Ty Walls, Bethel University senior

Bethel University senior Ty Walls had no gift to give his brother and his fiance on their wedding night last summer. A couple of months had passed and the pressure was mounting to get them the perfect present. Walls spurred an idea that later turned into his side gig.

Senior business major Ty Walls puts the finishing touches on his custom-made picture frame in his home office in Minneapolis Tuesday, May 15. Walls enjoys the process of making each individual picture frame unique for his client. “I love the personal relationships I have with each individual client,” Walls said. | Photo by Katie Viesselman

“I was just laying in bed one night and I was thinking about giving them a picture frame, or maybe something musical and I thought why not do both,” Walls said.

His invention is a picture frame that holds a static image, but the frame plays different sound files as well from a speaker behind the plexiglass holding the image. For his company, “Rustic Melody Co.”,Walls pays no more than $50 for the material and sells them for around $200.

Walls isn’t satisfied with working a nine to five job, coming home to watch Netflix and not making a difference.

Senior business major Ty Walls begins a new custom-built picture frame in his home office in Minneapolis Tuesday, May 15. Walls has a workshop in the basement of his home that he works out of and is where he launched his company “Rustic Melody Co.”. “I love coming home after a long day at work and making my frames because it doesn’t feel like work to me.” | Photo by Katie Viesselman

“I want to do more than make a living,” Walls said. “I want to help people and make a difference in the world and this work is my way of serving others.”

Bethel junior Leonel Chavez started cutting his own hair when he was a sophomore in high school. Growing up in Hutchinson, Minn., there weren’t many options for barbers in his community.

Bethel junior Leonel Chavez cuts the hair of one of his many consistent clients. Although Chavez mostly focused on male hair, he will never limit himself to just cutting male hair. “There’s a lot more geomotry in female hair,” Chavez said. “I find that fascinating.” | Photo by Carlo Holmberg

“It was hard for me to trust the barbers and the stylists there because nobody knew how to cut Latino hair. No one knew how to do a fade,” Chavez said. “So I kind of took it upon myself to start cutting my own hair.”

Chavez soon started cutting hair for his family members, then once he got to Bethel, his freshmen floor. Today, Chavez gives about 11 hair cuts a week. Mostly men, but Chavez says he won’t limit himself if the opportunity arises.

Leonel Chavez is a junior at Bethel University studying human resources and entrepreneurship. Chavez started cutting hair for his floor mates freshmen year but didn’t think of it as anything but a kind gesture. Today, Chavez cuts about 11 heads a week and has started making enough money where he was able to quit his part time job in Bethel’s Financial Aid Office. Chavez dreams of owning his own barber/coffee shop someday.

Chavez hopes to someday own his own barber/coffee shop.

While students take initiative to create their own businesses, professors in the business department strive to present entrepreneurship to their students as well.

Bethel University professor of business Mauvalyn Bowen has been teaching at BU since 2016. Bowen has spent much of her career in international and intercultural work experience in higher education. “I love to teach, there is that passion in me,” Bowen said. “I love to see my teaching making a difference, even if it is the small parts.” | Photo courtesy of Bethel University

Associate Professor of Business Mauvalyn Bowen became instilled with the entrepreneur spirit, as she would say, from a young age. Bowen remembers her mom making uniform school dresses for girls. Her job was to track the money, remember the names of the individuals who owed.

Bowen worked at University of Technology Jamaica teaching in business education prior to Bethel. Under her belt she has co-written “Entrepreneurship for Caribbean Students.” She teaches her students as entrepreneurs to be open to listen for new ideas and different perspectives.

“I have a passion to see small businesses grow.” Professor Bowen said. “To see them being creative and innovative with what they have and seeing them succeed makes me happy.”




Hyperlocal news about Bethel (Minn.) University by journalism students. To contact editors, email or Tweet to @Royal_Report.

Recommended from Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Beret Leone

Beret Leone

Bethel University '18 || sing, dance, wear red lipstick.

More from Medium

building your audience to join your online course
Copywriting word cloud on napkin