Student and Alumni Entrepreneurs Succeed at UH Farmer’s Market

For the past six years, the University of Houston’s Dining Services has hosted monthly farmer’s market on the campus grounds. The farmer’s market brings different types of vendors to campus, from artisanal soaps, vintage clothing, and fresh desserts to name a few.

Aside from introducing unique businesses to the campus community, the farmer’s market also provides UH students and alumni entrepreneurs with an opportunity to succeed. According to UH Dining Services, its current roster of vendors includes four student and three alumni vendors.

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Alexcis Mendoza, UH Dining and Chartwells District Marketing Manager, said student business have recently ramped up their involvement in the farmer’s markets.

Sophomore Mikaylah Wade saw the market during her freshman year and immediately thought about joining.

The 20-year-old had been learning to crochet and was finally at a point where she felt comfortable enough to sell her creations. Her business, Snuggly Stitched, joined the farmer’s market a couple months after she attended her first. In total, she’s been part of eight UH markets and being a part of them has helped the young entrepreneur.

“I’ve learned some marketing techniques,” said Wade. “I’ve learned how to research a clientele and find out what they like. And obviously, I’ve learned to crochet a lot of different things.”

Public Health major Celestial Lee’s story isn’t that dissimilar from Wade’s. The 19-year-old artist had doodles that she figured would make great stickers. Having spent a lot of money at UH’s farmer’s market, Lee figures she could make some money instead.

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Her business, Sutopoori, sells stickers and prints from her art doodles as well as anime action figures she’s collected over the years.

Wade and Lee agreed that their time at UH’s farmer’s market has been beneficial not just in terms of learning about how to run a business, but also financially.

Both sophomores said vending at the market yields them better profits compared to vending at other markets.

“I’m able to pay my car note because of this market,” said Wade.

Alumni vendors also see the market as their most profitable day of the month.

Nadine Bian, class of 2018, started vending at the farmer’s market in the fall of 2022. The onetime Coog started her anime and gaming inspired business, Naytendo, as a side hustle while she finished school, and continued building it while working at a marketing agency.

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Bian started working full time on Naytendo in 2023 and while the 34-year-old vends at other farmer’s market around the city she notes that the UH one is always the most profitable one.

“I can always count on the farmer’s market for guaranteed income every month,” said Bian.

That sentiment is shared by 1999 graduate Audrey Hu. Her business, Popssibilities, offers fresh, frozen popsicles using natural fruits and diver ethnic flavors. Hu started the business after her wedding planning business halted during the pandemic.

She started vending at UH in 2022 and said it quickly became her biggest event.

“It has helped me tremendously financially,” said Hu, who dreams of opening her own popsicle shop one day.

For Bernard Johnson, owner of Bridge Imports, an import and export company specializing in African attire and more, the idea to vend at the UH farmer’s market came via a former classmate who informed him of the market.

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Johnson, a 2015 graduate, says vending at UH has been beneficial in terms of profit but also because it allows him an opportunity to expose students to different styles from abroad.

“We’re always proud to see plenty of alums at our farmer’s market because there’s some great entrepreneurs and creative minds that get to share their talents with their university,” said Mendoza.

The farmer’s market has been going strong for six years and with students and alumni joining, it’s given them an opportunity to help their business branch out while making a profit.