When University of Mississippi integrated marketing communication majors Lindy Goodson and Elizabeth Lanford were trying to come up with an outfit last year for (sorority) bid day, they never expected their creativity would lead to a business and office space at Insight Park on the UM Campus.
The two co-founded Fraze Shades, an online company that sells custom made sunglasses.
“Last year on bid day, I had letter beads and some old glasses, and I just kind of thought of this idea of sticking letter beads on glasses,” said Lanford. “Me and Liz both made a pair. People liked them and were offering me money to make them a pair.
“It was never really like, ‘we’re going to start a business,'” Goodson said. “It was always a joke, and then it just escalated from there.”
A trend was born, and the two students decided to create an Instagram account to sell the glasses. They recently entered their small company into a business pitch competition sponsored by the Ole Miss Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Lanford got the idea after seeing a sign for the competition at the campus bus stop and joked to Goodson about entering Fraze into the competition.
The pair had only sold around 30 pairs of glasses and weren’t sure if the business was ready to take this step.
“I just went out on a whim and submitted an application 10 minutes before the deadline,” she said. “We made it to the next round, and the next thing you had to do was meet with the entrepreneur-in-residence. He went over what you should be doing for your business pitch. We didn’t really know much about what was going on in the business department, but the CIE kind of forced us to learn.”
They said the CIE has helped them better understand business.
“They helped us with all of the business aspects we knew nothing about,” Goodson said. “We’re not even in the business school. The experience that I’m getting here, and the connections we’re making is the best thing for our business, honestly.”
Owens Alexander, entrepreneur-in-residence at the CIE, has mentored the two throughout their business endeavors. Recently with the help of the CIE and the University of Mississippi Law Center, the two applied to become an L.L.C..
The company had to change its original name from Solar Flair because it was taken by a pop-up shop in Boston.
“We brainstormed new ideas for weeks,” Goodson said. “We were just saying random words trying to get inspiration. We were sitting on the couch one day, and someone said, ‘What’s another word for a short quote?’ so we thought of a phrase and decided to spell it differently.”
Most glasses have a short phrase within the beaded design, so the new company name, Fraze Shades, was fitting.
After winning the business pitch competition, the CIE gave the two a year’s lease for an office space at Insight Park on campus. The company hopes to hire employees to help fill orders they’ve received from sororities.
“Most of our customers are college-aged girls who are usually in sororities, even if they don’t order sorority glasses,” Goodson said. “Most of our customers are Instagram users. That’s how they find out about us.”
Their business started as an Instagram page, and they now have a fully-functioning website used for ordering custom-made glasses. The girls mainly use Instagram as a marketing tool. Most customers post pictures on Instagram and tag Fraze Shades.
Running their own business as college students comes with challenges, but the two are handling it like professionals.
“Time management is a big challenge,” Lanford said. “I honestly work in class. Being an IMC major, my professors will be saying things about marketing campaigns, and I realize that I need to do marketing for my own company.”
Last year, the two had no idea their accessories would turn into an actual company, but they plan to continue making the glasses as long as people buy them.
“Our business has completely exceeded our expectations,” Goodson said. ” . . . It’s been less than a year, and we’re in an office and officially an L.L.C.”