Businesses closed. Travel halted. Internships canceled. School goes online. The consequences of the pandemic are numerous and still scarring countless students at Saint Joseph’s University. Despite this worldwide crisis and the challenges it posed, some have turned tragedy into an opportunity. As hundreds of hawks scrambled to find new jobs and in the middle of fighting his own battle against COVID-19, then-freshman Political Science student Nick Jones started his own business. A year has passed since Nick founded TroVail, a clothing collective showcasing under appreciated art. Nick has shared some of the secrets to his successful start-up.

Photo Taken By: Donato Cavuoto

What motivated you to start your business and how did you get it started?

“So, I was in quarantine last March, going into April, and I was watching a few videos. Then, I wasn’t interested in starting my own brand, but I was interested in the fashion industry in general. Two or three weeks later I got COVID, sat in my room, and I started drawing, and the brand started coming together every day I was in quarantine. Then over time I developed a name after all the travels I’d done that year. I’d been through something like 16 airports.”

How do you get in touch with clients and what has been the best way to market your business?

“The best way to market originally was word-of-mouth. Luckily [I] had a big friend group in high school, so I spread it to them. Then they reached out to their parents. I got a taste of local business and then I started getting orders from California. I promoted a couple of pictures on Instagram and got a lot of reach in California and all the places I traveled. So, I’d say the best way to market has been word of mouth and social media.“

Photo Taken By: Donato Cavuoto

How do you balance running your business and being a full-time student?

“It’s definitely been tough this year. But what I’ll do is order everything to my house, grind out my work at home, and then come back up. I don’t do much in Philadelphia, and I’ll usually head home (Baltimore) on a Wednesday or Thursday. ”

How can artists get in touch with you to promote their pieces?

“The whole goal of TroVail was to reach out to underappreciated artists and see how much work I could collaborate with other people. I’d love to do more. I have a contact page on my website if you scroll down to the last page. I’m looking for new artists with new ideas. Reach out on Instagram or my website.”

Photo Taken By: Donato Cavuoto

Why should students be interested in Art or starting a Business?

“For art, it’s impossible for someone to not enjoy some kind of art. Music, painting, photography, art is there to help you out. People should get into it more. Art is peace for me and without art I wouldn’t be me. It’s important for health. For business, I’ve been told that being your own boss is super important. For me personally, it’s a representation of you. If you do cool things, make cool things, why not start a business? I started it with less than $200 and I’ve made a lot from it so far.”

What advice do you have for young Artists and Entrepreneurs?

“Biggest advice is don’t get so trapped into what everyone else is pushing. Make something you want to have and that you want to see. No one else is going to know what that is. There are so many other businesses. People sometimes get so wrapped up in what others are doing. When you have your own business, focus on your work and that way you won’t be worrying about what others are doing. ”

Check out TroVail!

Nick’s business has continued to thrive despite a recession, quarantine, and school changes. Students at Saint Joseph’s University pride themselves on their sense of community, and this has helped Nick grow his business and inspire other artists and entrepreneurs. We conducted a poll on the SJU Hawk Chill Instagram page and found that 90% of respondents said they’d be interested in buying from student-owned brands! Travel to TroVail and discover your passion through Nick’s. 

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