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

Students share how selling their art at the Davis Art Market gave them 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 Avenue, you can find an array of items lining the pavement, including crocheted hats, unique fashion pieces, handmade jewelry, and customized acrylic nail sets.

Many UC Davis students use the space to promote their work and art, while other artists from the surrounding area have set up shop at the art market. The market has even grown to attract and welcome vendors outside of Davis.

While the art market is not exclusively home to UC Davis student entrepreneurs’ stores, it has served as a platform for many students to start and grow their small businesses.

Working partners are Pinny Kantacheerawat, a fourth-year mechanical and aerospace engineering student, and Lauren Tsujioka, a fourth-year political science student. Cowtown Nails. Their work focuses on creating fun, customized acrylic print nails.

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“For me, I feel like nails are just like my artist side,” Kantacheerawat said. “I’m doing a super academic major, so whenever I draw nails, I feel like it’s another way to relax, I just take my time. Then the product comes out and I’m so excited because they look really good.”

His passion for the arts has pushed some students into the world of business and entrepreneurship, even offering them future career trajectories they didn’t initially think of.

“To be honest, I never thought about entrepreneurship,” Tsujioka said. “I’m a political science major, so to be honest, this got me thinking about doing a master’s in business marketing. I really like the small business aspects and trying something new. I always wanted to be something different, like working in public policy or something, and that really changed my path.”

Ahndiya Kiburi, a third year design and international relations double major student, is in a similar position. Kiburi runs Ahndiya Studiosa small business that sells crocheted bags, book covers, plant hangers, and clothing such as tops and hats.

She said she came to college wanting to be a lawyer, and that “although not off the table” is no longer her best choice.

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“Design was my entertainment part,” Kiburi said. “But then I started taking political science classes and I said, ‘This is not 100% for me.’ So I said, ‘Let me make my fun part of my career’. Actually, why not?”

While entrepreneurship can be an alternative to a typical nine-to-five job, some student entrepreneurs don’t focus on money. Kiburi sees his small business and art market as a way to share his art and passion with others.

“If I’m doing what I love to do, I’m willing to take further pay cuts,” Kiburi said. “Motivation is more about being creative as an entrepreneur than making the most money in the least amount of time.”

Tsujioka says interacting with customers is one of the most rewarding parts of running a business.

“The plus side is, honestly, seeing customers’ faces light up when they get their nails,” Tsujioka said. Or if they come and show us their nails, we are literally very happy.”

“The Heron Rana Behind”@davis_street_marketOn Instagram, he says the market started as a space for artists to share their art and elevate each other.

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“For me, [Davis] The Art Market has always been more than a space. [community] It’s not like economics,” Rana said. “I never thought people would actually make money in the art market. But they do, which is really cool, which is another form of validation.”

The Davis Art Market continues to be a space for art, inclusivity, diversity and community as UC Davis expands to be a platform for small business owners to expand their stores.

“It provides really easy access for people who are new or young and exploring their art,” Rana said. “That’s the best part for me. People are asking, ‘Am I going to make the money I invested in this?’ “It creates a safe space for them to do so without pressure. I believe many people still don’t lose because you get the love of the community, even if they don’t sell anything.”

Posted by Maria Martinez Castro — [email protected]


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