What started out as a fundraising idea for a summer trip has turned into a blossoming business for Missouri State students Katie Sulzner and Jesse Romano.
In March, Romano, a sophomore elementary education major and Sulzner, a sophomore triple major in marketing advertising and promotions, marketing research and marketing sales, started the company She is Wonderfully Made.
Sulzner and Romano sell hand-painted, customizable jean jackets nationwide and have profited several thousand dollars since the business began.
The pair met during Fraternity and Soroity Life recruitment last year and ended up joining the same sorority, Alpha Chi Omega.
Both women were interested in attending Kaleo, a faith-based summer trip, and needed a way to fund the expenses.
One night in the Freudenberger House basement, Sulzner and Romano began brainstorming ways to cover costs for the trip.
After several hours of scribbling business ideas down on a white board, She Is Wonderfully Made was born.
The name is inspired by one of Sulzner and Romano’s favorite Bible verses.
“(She is Wonderfully Made) is a good reminder for women in general, and it gives women identity in Christ,” Sulzner said.
At first, the women did not have high expectations for the business.
“I remember thinking, ‘If we make $50 off of this, that would be amazing,’” Romano said.
Reality exceeded expectations. After two months, Sulzner and Romano had raised $3,700 for their trip.
Sulzner said the general education courses required by the Missouri State University College of Business have helped her manage the company and establish a brand.
“It’s really cool to actively incorporate what I’m learning in my classes to the company,” Sulzner said.
Sulzner often passes her business knowledge onto Romano and the two divide up the company’s work evenly.
“We switch off and on when it comes to who’s painting the jackets,” Romano said.
Originally SIWM sold hair scarves, jackets and earrings, but recently went through a rebranding and now exclusively sells customized jean jackets.
“We promoted a post on Instagram and it got crazy amounts of bookmarks,” Romano said, “Instagram really spread the word.”
As SIWM’s popularity continued to rise, the duo decided to create a website to handle sales more efficiently.
College students from across the country can place orders to purchase university-themed hand-painted jackets.
Sarah Kantra, a sophomore interior design major, lives with Sulzner and Romano in the Alpha Chi Omega house.
After the launch of their website, the co-owners asked several people, including Kantra, to model jackets and jewelry for advertising purposes.
Kantra said She Is Wonderfully Made is very popular amongst college students, especially sororities.
“Their business is a hit,” Kantra said.
Kantra said SIWM makes customized jackets that can represent any organization and are perfect to wear on game day.
“They customize the jackets themselves — everything is hand-painted,” Kantra said.
Kantra said Sulzner and Romano put a significant amount of time and effort into each piece of clothing they customize and want to make sure the jacket is made to order.
“They really care about their business and want to see it succeed,” Kantra said.
Looking toward the future, the pair wants to sell their products in pop-up shops and expand the products available to customers, potentially adding customized children’s jackets and screen printed T-shirts.
Sulzner and Romano’s business Instagram account is @sheis_wonderfullymade.