Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Catching the Entrepreneurial Wave

For many young professionals in Wilmington, suitable work is hard to come by…but the quality of life is too good to prompt them to move. This makes a compelling case for entrepreneurship. If you can’t find a job in the place you love, create your own! Take Mickey Anglemyer, a Cape Fear Community College graduate who recently launched Mickey June Surfboards, a design company that makes custom surfboard art for young groms up to seasoned surfers.

After putting herself through college, Mickey was saddled with student loans. With an associates in art and design, she was worried there was no profitability in art… so she decided she needed to do something more mainstream and marketable like graphic design—“something that fit the mold …a 9 to 5 kind of thing”.

Graphic design positions were difficult to find in the Cape Fear region so she reluctantly moved to Raleigh where she landed an internship creating images, logos, websites, and screen printing. But Mickey says she was always more attracted to the creative and artistic side of the visual communication company and not the production and processing pieces.

“I like the feeling of working with my hands. I never felt like I could create what was in my head on the computer…it is too rigid, too structured. My vision is too organic and my style is the thing that will make me successful.”

After spending a few months in graphic design, Mickey switched gears. It all started when she decided to paint a psychedelic scene on her boyfriend’s surfboard for his birthday. Upon completion, she was pretty impressed with the product and knew that with the robust surfing community in the Wilmington area, there was serious potential for her designs.

“I wanted the freedom to create what I see. Surfboards are something I’m naturally drawn to because of the lifestyle, the youth, the colors, and the shape. The Greeks used to paint pots with sea creatures according to the shape of the vase. It seems like common sense but there are very few instances where you can do that. You can create a painting that is made for the shape and size of that particular board—it’s like giving it a face or a personality. The more research I did on surfboard art the more it became abundantly clear there isn’t much out there on the East Coast. It’s hard to find an artist that has really done it and built the brand.”

Mickey has tapped into a unique niche and is seeing no shortage of orders. With an extensive network in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, boards are floating in left and right. While business is booming, Mickey is looking to grow her brand and formally create a startup…but she needs help.

Her story is one of many. College students are increasingly encouraged to think more entrepreneurially across all disciplines as our workforce and market demand is constantly changing. Securing a job these days isn’t easy, but as studies show college graduates are likely to choose a location before a job, it isn’t surprising that entrepreneurial ventures are on the rise.

Luckily, Wilmington is home to the UNCW Entrepreneurship Center, which is able to provide the financial and business guidance needed by young entrepreneurs. Institutions like this one are vital to economic development in our region. Entrepreneurs like Anglemyer have a vision and have a specific target market. But without support from the experts it is difficult to secure capital, launch a marketing campaign, find work space, file legal status, generate a stable revenue stream, and quite frankly, maintain sanity within the new found pressures of the business world.

In Mickey’s case, entrepreneurism and quality of life go hand in hand. It is important that our Foundation, in cooperation with others, realize this linkage and build a bridge to foster entrepreneurial growth while simultaneously enhancing our region’s already incredible assets so we can grow and attract new business- exceptional business- right here at home.

Surf’s up…and so is entrepreneurism!

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