The Student Entrepreneurial Program (StEP) is a unique opportunity for students to own a business on campus that serves the WashU community. Any WashU undergraduate student can buy into an existing busines or start a new one. This month we are highlighting some of the student-run businesses on campus – today is all about Gallery 314!
Gallery 314 is a new and exciting retail experience showcasing items made by WashU and St. Louis community members. Gallery 314 is co-owned by two WashU students:
- Drake Shafer (BSBA ’23) – Studying: marketing, accounting, and the Business of Entertainment
- Justin Reiling (BSBA ’23) – Studying: OSCM and Earth and Planetary Sciences
The owners of Gallery 314 answered the following questions about the impact of owning a StEP business.
How did you develop the idea for Gallery 314?
Within the first few weeks of our first year at WashU, we noticed that we were a part of such a vibrant and creative community, but there really wasn’t a way for WashU members to express their creativity in a retail-based location; we wanted to change that. At Gallery 314, we display a wide range of items, including but not limited to clothing, accessories, plants, dorm/apartment décor, soaps and lotions, and many more. While providing unique items to the WashU community, we also hope to build and grow the entrepreneurial ventures of our partners.
Why did you decide to buy a StEP business?
Owning a business during college is a very tasking endeavor, but we knew we would be up for the challenge. During our first years living in St. Louis, we noticed there was a significant lack of street-level retail, especially around WashU’s campus; we found an opportunity and took a chance. Not only did we want to give WashU members another place to shop, but we also wanted to change the lives of designers and creators in our community.
What are the benefits of working with multiple owners?
When working with multiple owners, you cover more ground. For example, with Justin’s experience in working and managing a small shop at his high school, he knows a lot about stocking, ordering inventory, and working with POS systems. Drake, on the other hand, has more experience in social media marketing, advertising, and promoting. Especially when opening a business, it is always great to have a partner you can lean on.
How do you balance being a student and owning your own business?
This will be our first semester running Gallery 314 while being a student, so we don’t have a lot of experience in that realm. In the summer, both Justin and I took a class online, and while doing that, we were creating Gallery 314. It took a lot of time management, but it was manageable. We hope to keep our same level of organization and coordination in running Gallery 314 this fall
What has been your favorite part about being a StEP business owner?
Even though we have only been StEP business owners for about a month, we have already received a great amount of support from the StEP board. While owning a StEP business, you also become part of a wonderful, supportive community. We are looking forward to working with the other StEP businesses by promoting each other’s stores and learning more about other entrepreneurial ventures.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
College is the perfect time to explore different entrepreneurial paths, especially at WashU. If you want to start something, you are more than able to. Both Justin and I are lower-income students at WashU and didn’t have money of our own to start a business. Through the StEP program, we were able to acquire very generous loans to make our entrepreneurial dreams come true.
What other groups and activities are you involved in at WashU?
Justin: PDP, WUFUSED, Olin Peer Ambassadors, Olin Scholars in Business, Aperture Photo Club, and Consult Your Community.
Drake: Bear Studios, Olin Peer Ambassadors, Deneb STARS, WUFUSED, Olin Scholars in Business, and Aperture Photo Club.