The Envite Collaborative
“When we started the (entrepreneurship) minor four or five years ago now, we surveyed students about what they are looking for out of their education, business wise,” said Anne Montgomery, Associate Professor of Business Administration. “The number one response was that they wanted experience in running a business.”
Over Christmas break during the 2020-2021 school year, Dr. Martha Maddox, Professor and Associate Dean of the Goodfriend School of Business, presented Montgomery with an idea. The Goodfriend School of Business had extra merchandise, so Dr. Maddox’s idea was for students minoring in entrepreneurship to try to sell the merchandise. When classes began for the spring semester, Montgomery presented this idea to her New Venture Planning class, the capstone course for the minor; her students were excited for the challenge.
Montgomery laid the framework for the business, but the students branded the business; thus, the Envite Collaborative store was created. Montgomery divided the class into four teams: management, finance, marketing, and inventory. Although each team is independent, they are all dependent on one another in terms of success for the business.
The management team creates the schedule each week and monitors the store’s schedule, as well as each student’s schedule. The finance team tracks all the sales of each vendor with the help of Square, a payment program that helps with tracking the profit and sales of each vendor. The marketing team controls all Envite Collaborative social media channels to promote the vendors themselves and their product or service. The inventory team keeps track of all the products placed and sold in the store, and they work with the finance team to relay which products are sold in order to track the profit.
The Envite Collaborative store is for student entrepreneurs to promote their product and business; however, students do not have to be in the New Venture Planning class or minor in Entrepreneurship to display their product in the store. Tennessee Wesleyan professors can also promote their business by selling their items as well.
Kolbe Billingsley and Shelton Milne have started their business of providing a service to the TWU community. S&K Detailing will be offering convenient and affordable exterior car washes for $35.
“Shelton and I wanted to start this venture because we have a passion for cars. We wanted to share that same passion with the students and faculty at TWU, so we decided to start washing cars,” said Billingsley. “I believe the students will take advantage of this opportunity since it is a significant price difference from other car washes around.”
Unlike Kolbe and Shelton, Emma Blanchard is a Criminal Justice major with a minor in Art.
In 2021, the store’s first year, Emma saw Envite Collaborative fliers up around school, and she thought it might be a good place to sell her art. She contacted Montgomery about selling her art in the store.
“They were really helpful, and it was super easy to set up,” said Blanchard. Since putting her artwork in the store, students have contacted Emma about personal pieces. “I have done a handful of commissions this year, where people have asked me to make something specific, but I have also sold a few in the store as well this year.”
Sharon Brown, Professor of Mathematics, is one of TWU’s professors who sells their product in the Envite Collaborative store. Dr. Brown was approached by Montgomery to be a vendor in the store. Brown uses glass beads and beading string to make her jewelry. She enjoys making new designs and trying new patterns.
“I have been beading and making jewelry for about 10 years now; I have been selling jewelry for about 8 years,” said Brown. “I started out selling at the Knoxville Christmas market, and now I sell at White Street Market and the Envite Collaborative store.”
In its first two years, the Envite Collaborative store has nearly doubled their profit year-over-year. Vendors keep 90% of their profit while 10% is given back to Envite Collaborative to continue to upgrade their store. Montgomery has dreams of expanding the store into downtown Athens and open it up to the public.
The Envite Collaborative represents a host of TWU ideals: inventive and hands-on learning experiences, collaboration between students and faculty, connection to the community, and more. To shop or get more info about becoming a vendor, contact Prof. Anne Montgomery.