By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer
Every woman loves to receive a compliment.
So when Stephanie Olsen received one on her headband, while having a coffee in a New York City caf√© last winter, she was elated. Her delight was heightened by the fact that Olsen had made the headband herself, fashioning a lace flower atop a simple cotton headband in a last-minute moment of inspiration before she left the house that day.
‚ÄúI decided it could be something and started making them for my friends,‚ÄĚ Olsen, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Rhode Island said. ‚ÄúI love fashion, jewelry and accessories. I‚Äôm so into that.‚ÄĚ
What she‚Äôs into now, while finishing up her studies in marketing, is making a go of it with S.O. Glam Headbands. She‚Äôs the latest entrant in the league of Rhode Island student entrepreneurs who have found success in imagining, developing and selling their products before they‚Äôve earned a college degree.
The examples are, if not countless, at least numerous enough to take notice of despite mixed reviews among college-ranking lists.
No Rhode Island schools make an appearance on either Princeton Review‚Äôs or Entrepreneur Magazine‚Äôs top 25 lists of undergraduate and graduate programs for entrepreneurship. However, Brown University ranked No. 13 this year on Forbes‚Äô list of most entrepreneurial colleges, citing alum Stephen Rattner, co-founder of the Quadrangle Group, a global private investment firm in New York and Hong Kong.
Brown boasts several successful entrepreneur alums, including Julie Sygiel, CEO of Dear Kate [originally named Sexy Period], a line of leak-proof underwear she first co-developed in 2008 while an undergraduate at Brown University.
‚ÄúA lot of this is serendipity,‚ÄĚ said Danny Warshay, who has taught, as an adjunct professor, a class in entrepreneurship at Brown since 2006 and who is the CEO of G-Form LLC, maker of ‚Äúextreme‚ÄĚ athletic and electronic, protective equipment. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm amazed and marveled at what my students are able to [produce]. In many cases, they‚Äôre really smart and don‚Äôt have enough concrete experience to know what they can‚Äôt do, so they go out and do it anyway.‚ÄĚ
That points to the entrepreneurial nature of Generation Y, to which Warshay‚Äôs students and business starters like Olsen belong and who report, in numerous surveys, that they seek meaningful work and a flexible lifestyle over structure and a regular, large paycheck.