When Lela Aragon-Rico wrote a narrative story, Syzygy, about Mar and Runa, two girls afflicted by a supernatural phenomenon, she never imagined that she would turn it into a business. However, while in Dr. Edge’s social entrepreneurship class, Lela brought her story to life through her business, Fish on Saturn, by designing and selling apparel based on Syzygy.”
Where did you get this idea?
Fish on Saturn started in Dr. Edge’s Social Entrepreneurship Class because, at the beginning of the semester, he asked the class to create a business. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to do something that was arts-oriented. Using my characters, Mar and Runa, from Syzygy, I decided to design apparel that reflected my story. I also had previous experience with heat transfer, so I knew how to create shirts with designs on them, furthering the creation of my business. Seeing people wear my art around campus is just really exciting, so I am so happy that I was encouraged to start my own business!
What is the most challenging thing about running your own business?
I have found sizing to be tricky. I need to ensure that Fish on Saturn is size inclusive and keep track of the sizes I have in stock and what sizes I need to restock. I have had to learn how to communicate with suppliers to guarantee that I have a wide variety of sizes to represent size diversity. Additionally, tracking orders can be challenging, and I have definitely made a lot of mistakes that led to delays for customers. Everyone has been super encouraging and patient with me, and I found that the support has led me to make progress and learn from my shortcomings.
How do you see Fish on Saturn evolving in the future?
For now, I want to focus on developing my characters in my writing. Once I am finished, I hope to transition from heat transfer to screen printing. Screen printing would allow me to have more economical options when designing my apparel. I also have been thinking about more apparel options other than just shirts and sweatshirts and maybe incorporating pattern work by sewing custom fabrics.
What is your business’s effect on PD and the Charlotte community?
A big part of social entrepreneurship is understanding how entrepreneurs give back to their communities. Fish on Saturn donates fifteen percent of its profits to the Bobby Jones CFS Organization, which focuses on raising awareness about Chiari Malformation, Syringomyelia, and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. A very close friend of mine suffers from Chiari, and the condition affects her daily. She’s always been a huge supporter of all of my artistic endeavors, and I wanted to use my work to give back to an organization that means something to her.
Do you have advice for PD students who want to start a business?
Being a student and having a business can be overwhelming. However, having the motivation and access to the resources that the school provides helps get your business off the ground! It is so important to take advantage of the resources that PD offers. You walk into the IDEAS Xchange, and a heat press is waiting there to be used, along with so many other tools. Utilizing these tools offers cost-effective methods to create inventory without buying them. Keep utilizing the support and knowledge that PD provides, and your business will be stellar!