School Ends and Business Ownership Begins: Graduate Entrepreneurs

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Graduation season is a time to celebrate, but it also gets a lot of young people worried about their futures. Now that I have a degree, what's the next step? What will the "real world" be like? What kind of job will I get?

Whether it's a desire to be their own bosses or a great business idea that drives them, many young people are starting their own businesses after graduation, and sometimes even while they're still in school. Here are four inspiring stories of young entrepreneurs who are making names for themselves as business owners.


Jasmine Lawrence

After using products on her hair that caused it to fall out when she was eleven, Jasmine Lawrence researched natural ingredients to help grow her hair back. Two years later, she came up with several natural hair and body care products and started Eden Body Works with $2,000 from her parents. When she was just 17 and a senior in high school, Eden Body Works had revenues in excess of one million dollars.

Richard Ludlow

Richard Ludlow, a social entrepreneur, founded the Yale Economic Review while he was still in college and then after graduation, deferred admission to Harvard Business School to focus on his next venture, a website called Academic Earth. The mission of Academic Earth is "giving everyone on earth access to a world class education." The website was launched in January 2009, and by May 2009 had built a library of over 1,500 video lectures by professors from prestigious universities like Harvard and Yale. All videos are available free for anyone to watch. Subject matter includes Astronomy, History, Law, Religion, and more.

Ximena Valero

Fashion Designer Ximena Valero was raised in Tijuana, Mexico. At nine years old, her mother enrolled her in a summer course where she learned to sew. She continued studying fashion at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in California. In 1997, Valero began designing in San Diego for a private label collection that was sold in Macy's and Bloomingdales. In 2004, she moved to New York City and worked as an Assistant Designer for Victoria Secret. A year later, she presented her 2006 spring collection during New York Fashion Week. Valero received the award for Excellence in Evening Wear in Miami Fashion Week 2007. Ximena Valero LLC is based out of Los Angeles and her designs have been worn by top models and celebrities including Jessica Alba, Alicia Keys, and Eva Longoria.

Annie LaVerdure-O'Brien

Annie LaVerdure-O'Brien completed her undergraduate education at the University of Portland and Portland State University in Washington. She founded LVD Media while she was in graduate school. LVD Media focuses on marketing, public relations, business development, and professional entertainment management. In April 2009, LaVerdure-O'Brien, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, was spotlighted as Indianpreneur of the Month by ONABEN, a Native American Business Network. LaVerdure-O'Brien hopes to expand LVD Media and create jobs for talented individuals in her Pacific Northwest community.