The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Student entrepreneurs prevail through the pandemic

Student entrepreneurs prevail through the pandemic - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Nicole Becerra, the owner of the Bo&Arrow, browses through her inventory in her home office on March 30, 2021. Photo By Bella Lopez

As students continue navigating the new normal, some have launched small businesses, joining a wave of “pandemic entrepreneurs” locally and nationally. The businesses range from custom goods and foods to clothing and trades services.

“Applications to start new businesses have surged significantly above normal in the last few months, as ‘pandemic entrepreneurs’ look to make money on their own in a tight labor market, or see the crisis as an opportunity to realize a long-held dream, ” according to a 2020 report on PBS’s WHYY (Wider Horizons for You and Yours).

Around 80% of businesses in America are considered small businesses, and historically the resurgence of new businesses following a great recession is expected, said Ruby Daniels, instructional assistant professor in the College of Business at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.

A recession can be described as anytime where there are two or more straight quarters of negative GDP (gross domestic product) growth.

“As hard as it’s been, the American spirit is something you can’t hold down,”  Daniels said.

Communication senior Isabella Rodriguez can relate to that sentiment. With multiple family members at high risk of contracting COVID-19, she was unable to continue her job at VIVA Politics during the quarantine and spent most of last year in isolation with her family.

In December 2020, Rodriguez began a small business called Just Face It,  a small online retailer for adult- and child-sized face masks. The masks are available in a variety of colors and prints, and are sold in bulk quantities of 10, 20 and 50.

Managed by Isabella Rodriguez with assistance from her boyfriend, Jacob Serafin, and her father, Frank “Pancho” Rodriguez, the business has been helping provide a service that will continue to be needed by the community.

The Centers for Disease Control still recommends the use of masks for anyone in the general public over the age of 2, despite the gradual distribution of the vaccines. Now with many new retailers selling face masks at different rates, some took this opportunity to up-charge the masks before reselling them.

“It’s kind of been stressful seeing people getting taken advantage of,” Rodriguez said. “I figure If I can do a business that can help people in an affordable way, then why not?”

Biology senior Nicole Becerra, who has had her small business Bo&Arrow Boutique since 2016, was also affected by the pandemic.

The boutique sells clothing items and accessories from small brands, and now features several kinds of reusable face masks.

Although all of the boutique stock is available on the website, Becerra is still sensitive to the fact that people have stricter budgets now due to COVID-19. She often features sales of some kind.

“I love finding stuff on sale, because then everyone else gets the sale,” Becerra said.

Safety has also been a big concern for Becerra. As a biology major, she feels even more responsibility to keep things as safe as possible for herself and customers.

With new safety procedures in place like isolating the merchandise for seven days after it’s arrived, or cleaning the individual packaging right out of the box, the effort is to go “above and beyond,” Becerra said.

Even for the in-person pop-ups she hosts twice a month, there is now an option to scan a code on one’s phone and look at all the merchandise online and order there for pickup. She does this for people who are uncomfortable coming up to touch the clothes.

“I try to do that for other families because you don’t know who they have in their family, or what they’re going through,” Becerra said. “So I try to stay as safe as possible.”

For information about the Small Business Administration and resources for small business funding visit

About the Author

Christina Henderson
Christina Henderson is a junior communication major at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Christina works as a dance instructor for Diversified Youth Services in addition to being a full-time student. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, painting and karaoke. Upon graduation, Christina will be pursuing a career in media.

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