The one thing a college student looks forward to, aside from the beach and hanging with friends, is getting a summer job. Senior Eboneé McKinney had no luck when it came to finding a summer job.
“During the summer I was looking for jobs,” McKinney said. “They said they were hiring but they never really followed up.” McKinney said she would call to check on the status of her application but hiring managers kept telling her they would call her back.
The job market was tough for McKinney, but by browsing the Internet she came up with the idea of making phone cases. “I saw someone’s phone case and said I can do that,” McKinney said.
“I make phone cases for all types of phones,” McKinney said. She noticed that many companies like Amazon and Ebay were only making flashy phone cases only for iPhone. McKinney herself, a Galaxy SIII phone user, decided she wanted to cater to all phone styles and types. “I have designed for Cricket phones and Metro,” McKinney said.
Not only does McKinney make phone cases, she has branched out to make iPad and Mac cases. She said making the Mac case was her hardest project yet. “The Mac case took so long,” McKinney said. “It came out so decent.”
McKinney pitched her idea to her mother who didn’t know how her daughter would do this. “I was organized and went to my mom already with a plan,” McKinney said.
That plan amazed McKinney’s mother who helped her buy her first set of supplies.
Getting off of her feet wasn’t quite as easy as McKinney thought it would be. People would not give answers that McKinney needed. They thought she was trying to steal their designs. “I would ask people what different materials they used,” McKinney said. “They just gave me the cold shoulder and didn’t want to help.”
McKinney went to the only source she knew would give her some answers—Google. “I know I needed pearls that would stick to a phone case but I didn’t know what they were called,” McKinney said.
McKinney bought her flat-back pearls, studs and industrial strength glue and from there her business took off. “I get some of my crafts from Etsy” McKinney said. “Some of them are just sets that people want to mix-and-match.”
McKinney began making different case designs and advertising them on Instagram. “I put different designs on the website that I created as well,” McKinney said. “Most of my customers came from Instagram.”
McKinney said that some clients have been so satisfied with her product that they’ve purchsed multiple in a month. “I have sold about 77 from my site. “But I’ve sold many more from my Instagram though,” McKinney said. Some designs on her Instagram are not always available on her website because it may be a unique or rare design. “I usually have a large quantity of cases on my website,” McKinney said.
There are clients that buy three or four cases a month from her. “My mom runs the bookstore at my church and she even sells some there,” McKinney said.
At 20 years old McKinney never saw herself as a small business owner. She has customers from all over the world. “I have customers from Canada, Britain and Germany,” McKinney said. “I also have customers here in the United States.” Many of McKinney’s customers in the U.S. come from California, Maryland, Georgia and North Carolina.
Having over 100 sales, McKinney is very grateful that she started her business. “My cases are at reasonable prices and they are definitely worth getting,” McKinney said. Her prices range anywhere between $27-$60+. “It all depends on what style you want and what you are getting,” McKinney said. “The more flashy Swarovski crystal cases are more expensive.”
With school starting, McKinney had no true worries about continuing her business. “Over the summer it would take one-to-two business days,” McKinney said. “Now it can take anywhere between three to five days.”
McKinney has most of her materials shipped from China, sometimes that causes a delay in her making cases. “I don’t know how the mail room works sometimes. It’s really weird,” McKinney said. Cabrini would sometimes slow down her progress in making phone cases because the schedule they are on to pick up packages is off.
McKinney has been making a great profit from selling phone cases. Last month McKinney made a profit of $607.50. She made good use of the money to help her buy supplies needed for school. “It helps so that I don’t have to ask my mom and dad,” McKinney said. “I also take care of other personal business.”
The main thing that McKinney has learned about being a business owner is that you have to be very patient with people. “I would say you have to learn how to handle people and realize how rude people can get,” McKinney said. She has found that you develop patience by working with all types of people.
McKinney says that her business is still booming even though school has started. “It only takes me about 30-45 minutes to make a case,” McKinney said. Instead of taking a nap in the middle of the day she prefers to make phone cases. “Why sleep when I can make money,” McKinney said.