Recent grads lead community as entrepreneurs

New program recruits students for education career
November 8, 2018
Leaf Institute offers learning opportunities downtown
November 14, 2018

Recent grads lead community as entrepreneurs

Imagine your life after college: are you married or single? Did you move back to your hometown or start a life somewhere new? Do you work for a company or own your own business? Maybe, looking ahead, you’ve always hoped to have your own business but are unsure of how to go about starting one. 

Maybe you’re even unsure if you’re up to the challenge. 

Running your own business requires a lot of hard work and time commitment. Will BJU adequately prepare you with the necessary skills you’ll need to own your own business?

Three recent BJU graduates who live in Greenville answered this question with a confident “yes.”

Chris Arthurs, a 2009 BJU graduate, started Arthurs & Company CPA, LLC, a public accounting firm, just five years after graduating. 

Arthurs said that BJU gave him a great foundation for his career.  “[BJU] has a really good small business school,” Arthurs said. “Their accounting department is very well-respected and has very good academics.” 

His education at BJU also helped him prepare for the Certified Public Accountant exam, a complex exam accountants take after graduating.    After five years with a different accounting firm, he started Arthurs & Company in 2014. 

Owning an accounting firm requires a lot of knowledge about a lot of different topics, and Arthurs said the accounting field is an ever-changing one.  “It’s very complex as far as the types of regulations, the tax code and other regulations that businesses may run into,” Arthurs said. “We help [businesses] navigate the complexity of all that.” 

Arthurs said owning a successful business is completely based on the network of people you know.  He found that starting a business in Greenville, where he had a good reputation, was a lot easier than if he had started somewhere completely new.

“There’s a lot of economic activity here in Greenville, opposed to other parts of the state,” he said. “It’s also just an appealing place to live, not too far from the coast and not too far from the mountains.”

Arthurs loves the diversity of the businesses he works with. The variety gives him a unique insight into companies, how they work and what makes them successful. Christa Robinson, a 2016 BJU graduate, owns Christa Rene Photography, a South Carolina and destination wedding photography business. 

Robinson studied business when she was a student at BJU, and she discovered her love for photography when she bought her first DSLR camera as a freshman. 

Robinson later added a photography minor to her business degree.

“I think [business] was the perfect major I could have chosen for what I’m doing,” Robinson said. She said the connections she made through BJU were especially helpful to start up her business. 

“[BJU] teaches you how to handle yourself in a professional environment as well as run a professional business.” Starting off, Robinson found it was helpful to be in Greenville because of all the connections she had here. 

She also loves being close to her and her husband’s families. “Greenville is such a great market to grow a business,” she said. 

What Robinson loves most about her job is getting to know her clients and capturing their exciting moments. During the week, Robinson edits her photos, manages her blog and social media, keeps in touch with her clients and even does some photography coaching. 

Additionally, on some weekends, she shoots weddings, averaging about 20-25 weddings a year. “It’s busier sometimes than other times,” Robinson said. “This Saturday, I’ll shoot my fifth wedding in a row.”

Jo Daniels, a 2017 BJU graduate, founded Redoubt Apparel in 2016 during college and started Atomic82 this past year. 

Redoubt Apparel targets the Alaskan tourist market, while Atomic82, a design studio, focuses on branding and web development for various companies. Daniels came up with her first T-shirt design for Redoubt Apparel while in a hand-lettering class at BJU. 

She said she realized it would be a really popular design in Alaska, where she’s from. “I’ve always been entrepreneurial-minded,” Daniels said. “I thought, ‘Why not do a kickstarter and see where this goes?’” 

Daniels ended up selling over 350 T-shirts on her first order, exceeding all her expectations. With four more designs, Redoubt Apparel now sells online and through local Alaskan shops. 

“[BJU] taught me to think big with brands and focus on strategic development,” Daniels said. “Within my graphic design classes, [my professors] taught me to really think critically and be smart about making specific decisions.”

Daniels said she and her partner, another BJU graduate, started Atomic82 this past year and are slowly building up their client base. “I’ve been able to quit my job and do just about full-time with these two businesses,” Daniels said. 

Daniels said Alaska does not have a big advertising market, which is one reason she is currently in Greenville. Eventually she plans to grow Redoubt Apparel and branch out to different tourist markets in other states.