Advice From a Young Entrepreneur
Young entrepreneur Alexis Kempf is bringing back the treasure of homemade goods by making waves with her company Coop+Coen.
What makes an entrepreneur successful? Our culture defines success in monetary terms, but how do today’s entrepreneurs define success? The definition of success is variable, and young entrepreneur Alexis Kempf gives advice on how she found her own kind of success.
The Nice Center at NDSU interviewed a variety of entrepreneurs and startups to learn more. This is the story of a high school student who created a business during COVID-19. The darkest time in the economy for small business owners became the catalyst for Alexis to start her own.
How She Started Coop+Coen
Alexis Kempf, our young entrepreneur, explained the story of her senior year of high school, where the inspiration to start her company began. “During the pandemic, so much was being taken from me,” Alexis said. COVID-19 forced her senior year to be entirely online, so she turned to her roots of creativity. “Between zoom classes, I would upcycle a piece of furniture, paint a new canvas, redecorate my room, or even color a page out of a coloring book.” Alexis has a passion for creativity and creating new things.
“Scrolling on Pinterest one day, I saw the cutest earrings. I instantly clicked on the picture to see if I could order them. After being redirected to the site, I saw the price tag of $60. Knowing I would never pay $60 for a single pair of earrings, I closed the tab.”
Alexis reflected, “ I knew I could make them. They looked so simple.”
She ordered clay and tools from Amazon and got to work. It didn’t go perfectly from the beginning. Alexis said that the first few pairs she created were rough and persisted with trial and error. Finally, after successfully sculpting them, she gifted them to friends and family members.
“Time after time, I got comments like, ‘Can I buy another pair?’ ‘You should sell these,’ and ‘I love them.’ So I created an Instagram account, protected my earrings, designed new styles, and reinvented Coop+Coen. After selling over 500 pairs on Instagram, I moved to a website.”
In just a year, Alexis turned her DIY hobby into a business that allows her to share her passion with others at a price they can afford. She took the problem of overpriced earrings and saw an opportunity to create a solution herself with an opportunity mindset. That’s exactly the kind of mindset we’re cultivating through Nice Corps!
The Passion Behind the Clay
Many people are motivated by money, flexibility, control, legacy… the list goes on. “If I’m being honest, my business is more of a thing I get to do, not have to do, so it doesn’t take a lot of motivation at all. Success, to me, is happiness. As much as I love having a little bit of extra cash, this is not how I define my success. At the moment, I am happy with my business, so I consider it successful, but like anything, there is always room for improvement.”
There is a common misconception that every entrepreneur’s measure for success is money. Alexis’s metric for success is much more than monetary gain. It is her personal happiness and joy. Even billionaire Richard Branson believes that happiness isn’t just a metric to his level of success – it is the key to it.
My advice to an aspiring entrepreneur is go for it.
“Start what you’ve been dreaming of. Don’t try to work out all the key details before starting because I promise so much will change. Something doesn’t go right. Then you find a way to fix it. You will not regret at least trying. It’s okay to fail, just don’t give up.”
Alexis found something she was passionate about and took a risk to pursue it. She has the drive to see opportunities in the midst of difficulty and ambition to create solutions rather than waiting for someone else to do it. She has a desire to learn and grow.
Alexis is transferring to Valley City State University where she will pursue a degree in business education. She is continuing her business on the side and is excited to experiment with new trends.
Follow along with Coop+Coen’s business journey!
Live updates and styles on her Instagram Page @coop_n_co.
Available earrings to purchase at www.coopncoen.com.