Unlike most businesses, Cocoa Cupcakes (formerly Krave It) sprang up overnight.
During her freshman year at Ohio University, Karris Barclay, a junior studying industrial and organizational psychology, founded the cupcake business.
One night, she built a website for Cocoa Cupcakes, printed business cards, found oven access, and the business built itself.
“I just made it real,” she said. “Nobody knew about it; it wasn’t a plan. It just happened.”
As a resident of Sargent Hall, Barclay gained access to a dorm on campus that contained a community kitchen. A feature story on Barclay’s business, however, also alerted campus administrators that she was selling food that was cooked on university property for profit, which is prohibited.
After notification from the university and a stack of paperwork, Barclay eventually moved off-campus to continue her business.
Despite the rigor of being a student and an entrepreneur, Cocoa Cupcakes remains a successful campus business.
Barclay has invested an estimated total of $500 in her business, which includes buying a website, licensing, products and packaging.
In her first year of business, her average monthly profit reached $150. That profit was yielded from selling individual cupcakes and cupcakes in quantities of four, six and a dozen.
Cupcakes are now only available to be ordered by the dozen or half-dozen on special occasions. This shift has decreased Barclay’s monthly profit to an estimated $75.
She has recently joined 740-On-The Go, a delivery service in Athens, and expects a substantial increase in her monthly profit.
All of Barclay’s cupcakes are homemade and hand-delivered.
Barclay noted that making affordable, homemade cupcakes isn’t an easy task and often doesn’t yield a high profit.
“It’s cheaper to just go out and buy a cake mix from the store, but I don’t do that. I make everything from scratch,” said Barclay with pride. “I make my own frosting; I make my own cake. I use all fresh ingredients, and I get really creative.”
Her bestselling cupcake is her classic strawberry shortcake, and her most unique is her lemon-raspberry cupcake.
The celebration of Barclay’s 21st birthday ushered in a new era of creativity with her novelty drunken cupcakes.
She eagerly announced that customers should look forward to Bailey’s Irish cream cupcakes, Makers Mark brown sugar and buttercream cupcakes.
Barclay hopes to see her business continue to improve as she remains at Ohio University. After graduation, she also hopes to have a storefront someday.
“The cupcake business is still going to be around, I just don’t know in what shape or form…but it will still be here,” Barclay said.
A junior studying journalism and Cocoa Cupcakes customer, Thanaé Austin has known Barclay since she was 16.
“She takes everything that she does very seriously and she has just blossomed,” said Austin. “She’s one of those people that actually goes after what she wants. She’s only 21 and she has her own business.”
Austin is confident that Cocoa Cupcakes will remain successful and noted how much Barclay has grown with her business.
“I can see her inspiring a lot of young girls to do this,” Austin said.
Elijah Justice, a junior studying graphic design and also a longtime friend of Barclay’s, can testify to her success and growth; Justice started his own business in high school.
The two were students together at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron.
During Justice’s junior year of high school, he founded Elijah Justice (formerly Lost Legends), a modern clothing company, that has continued throughout his college career.
Justice found himself in need of a sewing kit for his business, which he borrowed from none other than Barclay.
The business began when Justice wanted to put his high school logo on a shirt. With the help of his grandma, he created what would become the first product available from Elijah Justice.
Passionate about his business, Justice said, “It influenced everything when it came to college.”
Justice chose to be a marketing minor to improve his business. He then recognized the struggle of balancing classes, a job and a business.
“The sewing was definitely interesting; I had no idea what I was doing,” Justice said.
Now with his very own sewing machine, he personally sews every tag and label on all of his merchandise.
At one time, all of his clothing designs came to life from his personal pencil sketches. Even today, he begins with a very basic sketch and then transfers everything to digital design and sends it to the printer.
His most popular design is the “distorted midnight camouflage tee.” The design is newly available from Elijah Justice on a customized Adidas tennis shoe.
All merchandise available from Elijah Justice is unisex and designed personally by Elijah. The only exception is the very popular “Sunshine and Dimes tee,” which was designed in collaboration with Ohio University student, Aaron Brown.
Justice has sold merchandise to over 200 people. He mails every product himself or hand delivers the product if the customer is on campus.
Despite his large customer base, Justice says he doesn’t determine his success monetarily, but rather through personal growth.
“I’ve never actually sat down to figure out how much I’ve made since I started…simply for the fact that every dollar that I make I put back in the company,” Justice said.
He has been in contact with Adidas and Ten Deep about his designs and hopes to have his own storefront someday.
Barclay and Justice still remain in contact as friends and fellow business owners. They both continue to improve their business and show Ohio University students that true success can be met with mere passion.