Although Durham College’s (DC) campus is closed due to COVID-19, the annual FastStart Holiday Shop is still happening, it won’t be in The Pit like it has been in previous years.
Typically, the seasonal store would run for a couple of days around the holidays in DC’s common area known as The Pit and entrepreneurship students would set up tables selling their products to anyone on campus, said Lindsay Jeremiah, manager of entrepreneurship at DC.
“We’ve always been able to offer that,” said Jeremiah. “We have a great deal of students who are artisans, artists, and makers.”
This year the Holiday Shop, like many things in 2020, will be done virtually.
“We used our partnership we have with Shopify to build this online marketplace,” said Jeremiah.
It’s been a really good learning experience for the students selling products in the Holiday Shop, she added.
“All the students that work for me and some of our student entrepreneurs have been building, writing code, doing product photography, graphic design,” Jeremiah said. “It’s been a really big experience for them to build this marketplace.”
On the online market, customers can find things like candles, tech accessories, clothing, jewelry, and more from various sellers.
FastStart is an extracurricular program available to all DC students interested in developing their own businesses.
“It’s usually an opportunity we reserve for students involved in FastStart,” Jeremiah said.
However, she said this year FastStart’s Holiday Shop is also supporting other locally-owned small businesses in Durham Region by featuring them on the online store.
“One of our partners her business is called Lux Naturals,” Jeremiah said. “She’s a high school student!”
DC student Cullen Smith is part of the 3eeHive team. 3eeHive is a clothing brand that aims to spread awareness and educate people about the importance of bees. You can find their products at the Holiday Shop.
“We’ve replaced the traditional price tag on our clothing with a plantable seed paper tag,” Smith said, allowing customers to plant the seed to grow wildflowers.
The holiday store gives 3eeHive a platform to reach a bigger market, he said.
“We’re heavily reliant upon local markets,” Smith said. “Networking events, farmers’ markets, all of those places where we can go and sell our clothing has all be scrapped.”
Although it’s not the same as an in-person market, Cullen said “being a part of this is huge!” Having the market online allows for a larger reach of potential buyers.
Jeremiah said all the money made from products sold goes back to the entrepreneurs.
Once the holidays are over Jeremiah said their plan is to keep the marketplace open for online shopping.
“If you shop at a local business…that business then pays taxes to the municipality that you live in and then those taxes go toward bettering your city,” Smith said. “That’s another reason why shopping local is so important to keep your money in your community.”