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'I think it makes them really happy': Students start their own sticker businesses

Prasiddhi Jain, Computer Science and Biostatistics senior and founder of The Printaholic, shows off the custom stickers she makes from her Chapel Hill apartment. Students around Chapel Hill are showing off their creativity by starting small businesses selling prints and stickers.

Stickers can be found decorating the laptops and water bottles of college students everywhere. In quarantine, many of these students are finding themselves starting their own sticker businesses.

Senior Prasiddhi Jain has put her design abilities to good use with a new print and sticker business, The Printaholic.

Many students use these stickers as creative expression. 

“I use stickers as a way to show things I like in a fun and colorful way,” first-year Winter Earnhardt said. "I use my laptop everywhere I go, so they’re great to have on it.” 

Knowing your target audience is important when starting a small business, and Jain used her artistic abilities to create something they would both use themselves.  

“I personally love stickers,” Jain said. “I love decorating my water bottle and my laptop, and I thought it would be something really cool to start off with.” 

Quarantine boredom was the mother of invention for Jain. She said she began creating custom prints for people through Facebook after making a successful birthday gift for her mom.  

“It kind of started with me drawing a picture for my mom’s birthday, just like of our family, and then over quarantine, I was pretty bored,” Jain said. “It kind of started as a custom prints shop, which is still kind of what I do. People can send me pictures and I can turn it into a custom print, a digital copy, and then send it back.” 

Jain said she ended up on "small business TikTok" during quarantine, which gave her the idea to extend The Printaholic’s product base with stickers. She creates designs on her iPad, then uses a Cricut to print and cut the stickers out. She said it takes her about two hours to make a custom portrait print, and up to an hour and a half to make a sticker. Her general designs include popular phrases, flowers and Tar Heel icons, among many custom commissions.   

Senior Carmen Silva recently bought a UNC car decal from The Printaholic. 

“I’m proud to go to UNC, so I kind of wanted that on my car, since my car is kind of a part of me,” Silva said. “She dropped it off at my door and she had given me a couple of free, smaller stickers because it was a big order and a personalized note, and she’s just really sweet.”

First-year Nina Scott recently started creating culturally inclusive stickers through the Redbubble platform. A freelance illustrator, she said she got her motivation to start making stickers from her diverse group of friends. 

“I was in a group chat with some friends, and a lot of them said they wanted to buy my work,” Scott said. “I figured the best way for me to do that would be through Redbubble, because they print and ship everything for you.”

Scott’s stickers feature Black girls with various skin tones and hair styles in UNC gear. She said her friends and her own cultural background are the inspiration for her art.

“My friends are all different shades and ranges, so I wanted to make sure I had a sticker that looked like them,” she said. “I grew up not seeing myself in any stickers, so I didn’t want to do that to my friends. If I have the ability to create, I want to create and I don’t want to exclude anyone.”

Because of issues with copyright and profit margins, Scott said she intends to leave her Redbubble site and start a small sticker shop of her own. 

“In the future, I want to invest and get a printer and just buy sticker paper and print them, and maybe hand-cut them myself, or maybe even a sticker machine, but those are very expensive,” Scott said. “I really want to sell prints and stickers from my home and then ship them myself because it’s really simple.”

Jain’s sticker pricing ranges from $8 to $20 depending on design, the number of stickers in the order and the number of people in the photo. Scott said she aims to charge $1 or $2 per sticker when she launches a shop of her own. 

Both Jain and Scott have a goal of making money through their shops, but they also find their businesses emotionally rewarding. 

“I want it to be a whole experience, from placing the order to opening the package when they get it,” Jain said. “I love making them for people, I think it makes them really happy.”


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