Marquette Wire

Holiday pop-up shop connects students to MKE businesses

The Nest Holiday Pop-Up Shop's wide variety allows customers to support several local businesses in one place. 
Photo courtesy of Jack Toner

The Nest Holiday Pop-Up Shop's wide variety allows customers to support several local businesses in one place. Photo courtesy of Jack Toner

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This holiday season, a group of Marquette students is taking initiative to simultaneously support local Milwaukee entrepreneurs, encourage holiday shopping and develop a real-world business.

Marquette students created the Nest Holiday Pop-Up Shop, which features products from local Milwaukee entrepreneurs. It is currently open near the Third Ward at 157 S. 1st Street. Popular gifts sold at the store include terrariums, baked goods and greeting cards featuring anatomy-inspired art. The shop, which opened Nov. 17, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day until Dec. 23.

Students created the shop as a part of Blue and Gold Ventures, Marquette’s student-run business program. Prior to becoming a faculty member at Marquette last year, program creator and CEO Owen Raisch organized a similar student-run business program at Xavier University in Cincinnati. He also organized a national association of student-run business programs that includes schools like Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, Harvard, Princeton, Cornell and University of Pennsylvania.

With all his experience working with student-run businesses, Raisch said he particularly has faith in the future of Marquette’s new student-led initiatives.

“Marquette is the fastest growing program in the country,” Raisch said.

Nest, he added, is one of the innovative projects characteristic of Marquette’s growing student-run business program.

The Nest Holiday Pop-Up Shop serves as the community’s introduction to Blue and Gold Venture’s upcoming program, Nest Incubator. A project of Eagle Incubator, one of Blue and Gold Venture’s seven ventures, which Raisch described as a “student-run business for launching new student-run businesses,” Nest Incubator will be a starting point for non-Marquette affiliated entrepreneurs and small businesses. The shop is premiering this year as an introduction to Nest for entrepreneurs in the Milwaukee community.

The Nest Holiday Pop-Up Shop was put together by seniors Jack Toner and Isabelle Block, both students in the College of Business Administration.

“(The purpose of) the pop-up shop is to gain attraction from both entrepreneurs and people interested in learning more about the entrepreneurs in Milwaukee,” Block said. “…The pop-up shop is for (entrepreneurs) to gain that attraction and also obviously sell their product in a retail location.”

Block said Toner, president of Eagle Incubator, recruited her to work on Nest with him. Toner developed much of the official documentation and recruited entrepreneurs to sell their products, Block said. She said her role in the formation of the shop was focused primarily on the design of the store’s interior and website. The website will be launching this week and will allow customers to purchase products online.

Raisch said the plan to launch Nest with a holiday pop-up shop was smart because the holiday season is the most profitable time for retail.

“In fact, the holidays typically carry retailers through the rest of the year … so what that means is they make the vast majority of all earnings during the few months of the holiday season,” Raisch said.

Because the pop-up shop is only paying rent for the few weeks it is open, Raisch said, the program is taking advantage of the season for peak sales.

Toner said the pop-up shop did not have consistent hours until Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday. Nest recently gathered more attention largely due to increased coverage from two live television appearances.

Raisch said the Blue and Gold Venture Program invites involvement from all students, not just those in the College of Business Administration.

Last week, the shop hired Emily Moorman, a freshman in the College of Nursing, as the customer experience manager. Block, a family friend of Moorman, recruited her even though she is not a business student. Moorman works to manage sales and retail as well as assist with the development of the online website.

Moorman said she enjoys working at the business and appreciates the shop’s ability to benefit local small businesses.

“I was there (Saturday), and they were taking pictures of all of (the entrepreneurs) for the website, and … two different entrepreneurs who were selling their products there met, and now they’re planning to do something together,” Moorman said. “So it’s, like, introducing them to each other but also getting their products marketed, so kind of a cool idea.”

The pop-up shop will be hosting five events during finals week: an event with the UWM chapter of Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, a home decor and consumer product showcase, a food showcase with meet-and-greets from local chefs and bakers, an alcohol-related event with samples from local breweries and one final party.

“If you’re looking to destress and meet some people, there are a lot of companies here that are looking to grow and looking to hire students, so if you want us to connect you with them we’d be more than happy to be a facilitator,” Toner said.

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