ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM STORIES
Founder of 31:25
From a junior in high school with a passion for sewing to the founder of her own business, Bethany Husni is a dedicated entrepreneur who strives for inclusivity in every aspect of her life. We were first introduced to Bethany when she submitted 31:25 Dresses into the 2017 Veale Venture Challenge, now the thinkBIG! Challenge, where she pitched her custom, handmade dress company to a group of over 600 students, educators, and entrepreneurs. Since then, her business has evolved into a custom sorority letter shirt company. Today she is a full-time student at Belmont University, running the entire business out of her dorm room!
In our interview, Bethany told us more about what it is like being a young entrepreneur and the experiences she has learned from it in the past five years.
Tell us a little about your journey to entrepreneurship.
I’ve always enjoyed using my hands and was a crafty child- my first venture was selling friendship bracelets on the playground as a kindergartener! Entrepreneurship has always been a part of my life, but in the past five years, it has become a passion.
Who helped you get started as an entrepreneur?
The faculty at Laurel School, my high school alma mater, played a key role as I started my entrepreneurial venture with 31:25. The constant support and encouragement that I received from my teachers was incredible. The person who made the biggest impact on me with my venture is my mom- she has supported my business from its first day and has fully believed in me and encouraged me at every step of the way.
What is 31:25 and how has it developed over the years? Where do you hope to see your business in the future?
31:25 is a custom sorority letter shirt company that I started in 2016 as a junior in high school. When I started my business, I had just taught myself how to sew and sold scrunchies in the hallways of my high school. Within three months, I transitioned to selling custom dresses, including prom dresses. Sewing just made sense in my head, and it is my passion. When I joined a sorority and an honors society, I saw a gap in the market for fully inclusive custom sorority letters, and 31:25 has grown considerably since this pivot in July of 2020.
What impact do you hope to have with 31:25?
As a woman involved in a philanthropic sorority and the National Entrepreneurship Honors Society, I was so excited to get my hands on merchandise to help me represent my organizations, as any member would be. As I started looking around, I noticed that the smaller sizes were less expensive than sizes XL and above. Greek letter shirts already cost $30 on average, and larger women were being asked to spend an additional $2-$10 when purchasing the exact same products. Additionally, these letter shirt designs only fit a certain aesthetic- there isn’t a lot of variety available for representing the tastes of individuals. Finally, most religious and honors societies are not represented within most merchandise companies. My mission with 31:25 is to make sorority letter shirts size, aesthetic, and organization inclusive.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an entrepreneur and how do you overcome them?
I tend to be a perfectionist, and sometimes I can focus too much on getting one small thing perfect instead of stepping back and looking into things with a wide-angle lens. Part of the beauty of running a venture is that it’s a breathing entity, and it’s ever-changing. I’ve learned to embrace my venture for what it is at each moment of each day and look at the bigger picture of what it’s becoming rather than getting caught up on details that only I will notice. I have also faced delays with production. My demand increased so significantly this past winter that I invested in several technological upgrades to speed up my production process and fill orders more efficiently.
What takeaways did you have from participating in the thinkBIG! Challenge (formerly the Veale Venture Challenge)?
Pitching is a vital skill to have as an entrepreneur, and it might be difficult for you at first. The more that you practice, the more comfortable you’ll become! I was so nervous to pitch for my first crowd as a junior in high school with a fledgling business, but I’ve learned so much from practicing over the years. The lessons that I learned in the executive coaching workshops are things that I still call back to when I’m restructuring pitches and even when I’m presenting material for my college courses. That experience with the thinkBIG! Challenge certainly helped me to prepare for the 2021 Belmont University pitch competition, and I placed second with 31:25!
Do you find value in using an entrepreneurial mindset in other settings besides your business?
Absolutely! The hyper-organized and outgoing traits that I have built up over the years as 31:25 has grown have helped me to make friends from fellow students, stay on track and ahead in my classes, and deepen my relationships with my loved ones. 31:25 has also helped to sharpen my communication skills in a variety of contexts.
What advice do you have for other students who are interested in starting a business or developing an idea?
Just start! Don’t let fear of failure hold you back. If you don’t win from it, you’ll learn from it, and oftentimes the learning experiences are far more important than the wins. Make sure you have a target market. Do your research. Make sure that you have a broad collection of people who are interested in your good or service and are interested in investing in your product. Finally, have passion. Please don’t start a venture with only the goal of materialism. I’ve seen many peers with businesses that fall away because they were looking at their ventures as a cash opportunity rather than something that they can nurture and use to help others. Having a value proposition is vital!