Small businesses, big impact: Exploring WiB’s Nashville MakHERs Market

The second Nashville MakHERs Market hosted by Vanderbilt’s Women in Business organization showcases the work of local female entrepreneurs and their small businesses, attracting students for delicious food, jewelry and more.

Students+look+through+clothes+from+Shop+Living+Golden+at+the+Nashville+MakHERS+Market+on+Alumni+Lawn%2C+as+photographed+on+Oct.+28%2C+2022.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FNarenkumar+Thirmiya%29

Narenkumar Thirmiya

Students look through clothes from Shop Living Golden at the Nashville MakHERS Market on Alumni Lawn, as photographed on Oct. 28, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Narenkumar Thirmiya)

Emily Wiley and Anseley Philippe

The Nashville MakHERs Market returned to campus on Oct. 28, where female small business owners and entrepreneurs in Nashville came to Alumni Lawn. The Market was hosted by Vanderbilt’s chapter of Women in Business.

Greeted by the energetic members of WiB’s executive team, we were excited to wander through the colorful booths set up across the lawn. Flocks of students crowded around each tent for delicious baked goods, handmade jewelry and other trinkets. 

Modeled after the Atlanta MakHERs Market she directed, sophomore Soumia Vellanki wanted to bring this empowering and entertaining event to Nashville. 

“Women-owned businesses are receiving less than 4% of venture capital funding, so that was the motivating factor for making a small event like this,” Vellanki said. “[Showing] the Vanderbilt student body the power that women entrepreneurs can have and also engage them in a fun event [is] a great cause.”

Vendors from Thistle Farms sell products at the Nashville MakHERS Market on Alumni Lawn, as photographed on Oct. 28, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Narenkumar Thirmiya)
Vendors from Thistle Farms sell products at the Nashville MakHERS Market on Alumni Lawn, as photographed on Oct. 28, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Narenkumar Thirmiya)
(Narenkumar Thirmiya)

Vellanki explained how a portion of the proceeds was donated to WiB’s 2022 beneficiary, Thistle Farms—a nonprofit that supports female survivors of domestic violence, addiction and trafficking. Vellanki hopes to bring MakHERS Market to other branches of WiB at college campuses across the country. 

The bright pink and blue Rolled 4 Ever Ice Cream truck led the way at the front of the market. Some other tasty treats at the market included Cocorico Cuisine which serves French food like baguettes, quiches and chocolate cakes. We tried a Tiger Milk Tea boba from Eat Bubbles, which topped some of the best boba tea shops in California. The owner, Lara Aboulmouna, even traveled to Taiwan to learn more about the art of boba making before opening her business.

Vendors from Eat Bubbles preparing drinks for students at the Nashville MakHERS Market on Alumni Lawn, as photographed on Oct. 28, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Narenkumar Thirmiya)
Vendors from Eat Bubbles preparing drinks for students at the Nashville MakHERS Market on Alumni Lawn, as photographed on Oct. 28, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Narenkumar Thirmiya)
(Narenkumar Thirmiya)

“10/10 matcha, the best I’ve ever had,” sophomore Ava Schwartz said.

Stacy McAllister, a second-generation Caribbean American and founder of The Self Care Clique, welcomed us to her stand with a bright smile. McAllister is a chemist who, during the COVID-19 pandemic, decided to embrace her creativity by making vegan candles. Through her work, McAllister champions diversity alongside the representation of women in STEM and the creative spheres.  

Another popular booth tucked into the back corner of the market was Living Golden, a Franklin, Tennessee-based business founded by Annie Weir. She gave some insight into her inspiration to start her business.

“I grew up working at J. Crew and Anthropologie, and I always had a love for fashion,” Weir said. “The [business] name was inspired by my two golden retrievers.” 

Her best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to get started! 

“Just start it,” Weir said.” The younger, the better. I started my first company when I was 20, and by the time I finished school, I was able to do that full-time. Just start now—you’re never going to have all the answers and a lot of time; fear or not knowing how to do everything holds you back.”