UC Davis student entrepreneurs are driven by art and community, not profit 

Students share how selling their art at the Davis Art Market provides a creative outlet

By Maria Martinez Castro – [email protected]

The Davis Art Market serves as a hub for art creators, small-business owners and vendors to share and sell their wares to the Davis community. Along 3rd Street, one can find an array of products lining the sidewalk – including crochet hats, unique fashion pieces, handmade jewelry and customized acrylic nail sets.

While many UC Davis students use the space to promote their business and art, other artists from the surrounding area also set up shop at the art market. The market has also grown to attract and welcome vendors from outside of Davis.

While the art market does not exclusively house UC Davis student entrepreneur shops, it has served as a platform for many students to establish and develop their small businesses.

Pinny Kantachirawat, a fourth-year mechanical and aerospace engineering major, and Lauren Tsujioka, a fourth-year political science major, are business partners. Cowtown Nails. Their business focuses on creating fun, customized acrylic press-on nails.

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“For me, I feel like nails are my artist side,” said Kantacheerawat. “I’m doing a super academic major, so when I paint nails, it feels like another way for me to relax, take my time. Then the product changes and I am very happy because they are very good.

A passion for art has also pushed some students into the world of business and entrepreneurship, giving them future career paths they might not have initially considered.

“Honestly I never thought about entrepreneurship,” says Tsujioka. “I’m a political science major, so, honestly, it made me think about going into a masters in business marketing. I really like small business stuff and trying something new. I always wanted to work in public policy or something different and this really changed my path.

Ahndia Kiburi, a third-year design and international relations double major, is in the same position. Kiburi runs Ahndia StudiosA small business that sells clothing such as crochet bags, book sleeves, plant hangers, and tops and hats.

She said she came into college wanting to be a lawyer, which was “off the table” but not her top choice.

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“Design is my fun core,” Kiburi says. “But then, I started taking some political science classes and thought, ‘This is not 100% for me.’ Because of that, I said, ‘Let my fun be the centerpiece of my career.’ Why not, especially?”

While entrepreneurship is an alternative to a typical nine-to-five job, some student entrepreneurs aren’t focused on money. Kiburi sees her small business and art market as a means to share her art and passion with others.

“If I’m doing what I want to do, I’m willing to take a bigger pay cut,” Kiburi said. “The motivation as an entrepreneur is to be creative rather than to make more money in less time.”

Interactions with customers are one of the most rewarding parts of running a business, says Tsujioka.

“The plus side is, honestly, seeing customers’ faces light up when they receive their nails,” says Tsujioka. “Or, when they come and show us the nails they have, it literally makes us so happy.”

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Heron Rana at the back”@davis_street_market” On Instagram, she says, the market started as a place for artists to share their art and uplift each other.

“For me, the [Davis] The art market is always more space [community] Rather, like economics,” said Rana. “I never pictured people actually making bank in the art market. But they do, which is really amazing, and that’s another form of validation.

The Davis Art Market has expanded as a platform for UC Davis’ small business owners to expand their shops, continuing to be a place of art, inclusivity, diversity and community.

“It creates easy access for people who are really new or young and exploring their art,” says Rana. “That’s the best part for me. ‘Am I going to make the money I invested in this?’ I believe a lot of people, even if they don’t sell anything, they still don’t lose because you receive the love of the community.

By: Maria Martinez Castro — [email protected]



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