Bloom Brightly Paper Company began in 2016 as part of Dr. Jeff Cornwall's Venture Planning class. They sell seed-filled greeting cards that grow into wildflowers or basil, bringing life back into paper.
Annabelle Bright is a senior social entrepreneurship and Spanish student from Memphis, Tennessee. Jacob Kissamis is a senior music business and entrepreneurship student from Chicago, Illinois. Together with classmate Meg Schmalandt they started Bloom Brightly Co.
What does your business do?
Our business creates greeting cards that can be planted in the ground and grow into plants.
How long have you been working on this business?
We started working on this business as part of Dr. Cornwall's Venture Planning class in August 2016 as Annabelle's project. Now, we are working on launching, and our cards can currently be found in House Of and Green Door Gourmet.
Did you always know you wanted to start a business? If not, when did you realize it?
Annabelle: I have known for a long time that I would like to create positive change, and that desire has fit well with studying Social Entrepreneurship. However, I have felt intimidated to actually start my own venture. I think what tipped the scales and gave me confidence that I could actually start a business was the Venture Planning class I mentioned earlier. Also, I couldn't do it without my team members, Jacob Kissamis and Meg Schmalandt, or our designer, Suzanna Stapler.
Jacob: I have been coming up with random ideas as long as I could remember but it was when I was in 5th grade that I started thinking about turning them into business ideas.
How has Belmont helped you to make this business become a reality?
Annabelle: What made our business a reality was Dr. Cornwall pushing us to pursue proof of concept. We followed his advice and sold prototypes during the semester, and that propelled us forward. Advice and support from Shawn Glinter, the Entrepreneur in Residence at Belmont, also helped make my vision a reality.
Jacob: Honestly if it was not for the entrepreneurship department here I don't think I would have ever started a business. Specifically the venture planning and financial management classes helped me the most.
Favorite class ever?
Annabelle: It's so hard to choose! I loved my Junior Cornerstone in Religion with Dr. Cruz. We read about and discussed love, beauty, and truth in reference to God, and the class material always pushed me to think outside my comfort zone.
Jacob: My favorite class ever would have to be principles of marketing with Dr. Crook. She just had an amazing hands-on teaching style and I learned so many valuable life lessons from the class.
Did you have any crazy business ideas as a kid?
Annabelle: My sister and I started a dog newspaper in our neighborhood during late elementary school. We also always had lemonade stands, diversifying our selling options and locations around the neighborhood.
Jacob: One Idea that stuck out to me was in 5th grade I thought it would be cool to make my own comic books. So a few friends and I hand drew these terrible looking comics and sold them for 25 cents each and we actually sold lie 50 of them until our teach found out and told us that we can't charge money for them
Who is your biggest inspiration in business?
Annabelle: My biggest inspiration in business is my grandfather, John Salmon. He started a company called TVESCO that brought electricity to many rural areas of the southeast. His servant's heart shows through in everything he does, and his advice to pursue what I love has given me the freedom to do just that at Belmont.
Jacob: It might seem strange but at an early age I was really motivated to get into business by skateboarder and entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek. He really inspired me to work hard and strive to achieve what I want in life.
What business or product do you wish had been your idea?
Annabelle: Seeing the resurgence of instant film cameras, such as Polaroids, recently has been so fun. I love old things made new, like the recycled paper in our cards growing into plants.
Jacob: I wish I would have invented Star Wars!
Advice for other student entrepreneurs?
Annabelle: Don't be afraid to pursue your ideas, and don't be afraid to talk to people, whether that be professors, professionals in the field, or potential customers. They are all valuable resources, and it gets easier the more you do it.
Jacob: Don't limit yourself to only ideas that you are interested in. Try to have an open mind and look for any opportunity and idea that may present itself to you.