I used my college experience to break out of my comfort zone. I tried to embrace all the things I could as a student.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, events planner Ashley Twigg, ’12, longed for human interaction. While Twigg still had a job managing the sudden shift to virtual events, she found a passion for making candles.
“It brought me joy in a time when I needed some,” said Twigg, who initially made candles for herself, family members and friends.
Relying on the confidence built as a Bridgewater State University student, Twigg turned her pandemic hobby into a thriving small business called Campfire Candle Co. In her home workshop, she has used cleaner-burning soy wax to make almost 2,000 candles. She sells the products online and at community events.
“For every small business owner, you eventually exhaust your family and friends, and that’s when the real challenge started,” she said. “You have to believe in yourself and your product and keep trying.”
Twigg, who majored in communication studies and minored in English, recently spoke to aspiring entrepreneurs as part of a panel organized by BSU’s new Center for Entrepreneurship and Small Business. The center helps members of the BSU community and others in Southeastern Massachusetts turn ideas into successful small businesses and grow existing businesses. It offers webinars, a library of books, one-on-one consultations, mentorship, and a competition in the style of the popular TV show Shark Tank.
Dr. Karen Hamilton, the center’s faculty director, appreciates Twigg’s willingness to motivate students.
“I think students seeing alumni creating a successful business is important because they understand they too can become a business owner,” said Hamilton, an associate professor of accounting and finance.
Twigg encourages students to follow their passions and take a chance on themselves just as she did as a BSU student. While Bridgewater was a comfortable option close to her Pembroke home, she was unafraid to seek out leadership roles.
“I used my college experience to break out of my comfort zone,” said Twigg, who was an orientation leader and president of the sorority Phi Sigma Sigma. “I tried to embrace all the things I could as a student.”
She especially enjoyed creative writing classes, where she grew as a person and writer by letting others critique her work.
Her sorority experience taught her to multitask and troubleshoot problems, two skills that are invaluable when starting a business. And a sorority sister connected her with an internship at Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit that builds houses for injured veterans. That internship sparked a career working for military support organizations that she continues today alongside her candle-making business.
“Sometimes people don’t value communications degrees as much as they should,” she said. “The ability to speak and write effectively will always be marketable skills.”
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