“It started with headbands:” UMaine student starts own business

A fourth-year University of Maine marketing student has turned her hobby into a business.

Jamie Rowe started knitting and sewing when she was a child. Her grandmother was always into crafting and introduced Rowe to the world of knitting. It turned into one of her favorite hobbies. After taking a break from knitting in her teens, her grandmother passed away and handed down her sewing machine.

“It was the Cadillac of sewing machines,” Rowe said. “So I thought I’d try to make something and I picked it up again.”

It started with headbands — a lot of headbands.

“I can personally only have so many headbands,” Rowe said. “My friends suggested that I make some for them and then it got to the point where they said that I should sell them.”

Rowe decided to try her hand at Etsy, an e-commerce website where designers can sell their handmade items and supplies from their own home. In her first year, she didn’t make any sales. Although discouraged, she persevered and continued trying to sell on Etsy.

The next year, she completely sold out.

Now, Rowe has her own website, www.jcrcustomdesign.com. Rowe’s boyfriend sparked the idea of creating a website for the business and helped her create it. The site features pillowcases, makeup bags, headbands, scarves and hats. For custom orders, there is a designated section for whatever the customer specifically wants. Rowe makes sure the customer will be completely satisfied.

“When it comes to quality I am a control freak,” Rowe said. “If I mess up on one little stitch, then I’ll take the whole thing apart and redo it. If someone is going to buy it- it’s going to be good.”

Over the summer, Rowe had a marketing internship while knitting on the side. She met up with a real estate agent in the Portland area who was interested in Rowe’s work, and started making pillowcases with ZIP code numbers on them for the agent to give to her clients.

“That’s mostly my busy time of year,” Rowe said. “Hopefully it’ll pick up over the winter up here [in Orono].”

After graduation in May, Rowe plans on getting a job in marketing with her custom design business on the side.

“It’s busy, but my personality needs to have busyness,” Rowe said. “I can never sit still. I need to have constant stimulation. I think it’s good for me to be busy like that. I think I can make it work.”

 

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