Miss Mississippi Collegiate America 2021 is a college entrepreneur

Jillian Rhae Maxwell

Cameron Hass
Oxford Stories

STUDENT PROFILE – A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student who has been crowned Miss Mississippi Collegiate America is also an entrepreneur.

Jillian Rhae Maxwell was born and raised in Benton, Louisiana. The lifelong Louisiana State University fan decided to tour Ole Miss the summer before her senior year and fell in love with the campus and community.

One of the things that specifically caught her attention was the university’s low student-to-teacher ratio that allows you to feel loved and cared for.

“I knew instantly this was my new home,” said Maxwell, who is majoring in journalism with an emphasis in broadcast and studying business marketing in the School of Business.

“After I graduate, I want to be my own business owner,” she said, “and be the host of my own talk show.”  

During her junior year of high school, Maxwell created her own spray tan business, Tans by Jillian Rhae. In high school, she was named Miss Louisiana High School America 2018, and she is currently Miss Mississippi Collegiate America.

“I have done pageants for my whole life, and I was looking for a side business that I could run on my own time that allowed me to utilize my skills I already had and meet new people,” she said.

She got started by posting a graphic on Instagram offering spray tans. Within a month, she had regular customers.

Since starting college, Maxwell has continued her business in Mississippi. She posts a weekly graphic about open appointments that allows people to message her and book them.

“I love that I have regulars come in every two weeks,” she said. “It is very rewarding.”

She said the best part of having your own business is that you can make your own hours, rates, and mold it into what you want to be. She also enjoys meeting new people. Her business has grown by word of mouth. 

“The biggest downfall is if I happen to be out of town when a big event in Oxford is happening,” she said.

Maxwell has the support of many friends and family, including Anna Pruitt. Pruitt and Maxwell met during the first week of freshman year, and despite being in different sororities, they have maintained a close bond.

“Jillian is one of the most hardworking and dedicated people I know,” she said. “Not only is she the owner of her own business, but she is also a member in almost every club on campus.”

Maxwell is an MPower Extended Orientation Leader, a member of the marketing team for MPower Extended Orientation, the VP of Marketing for the sorority of Alpha Phi, and a writer for the Ole Miss Alpha Phi newsletter. She is on the Hometown Honeys Team for Ole Miss Alpha Phi. She also reads and speaks to elementary school classrooms about anti-bullying.

She has learned important life lessons, like people may not always keep their word.

“While it can be annoying if people cancel, or say they will book an appointment and never do, it is okay,” she said. “Life happens. That is a huge takeaway for sure.”

When people have to cancel because something comes up, she has learned to accept that they have priorities too. She thinks this is helpful in making you a better person. This allows you to be more understanding of people. When giving advice to future or current business owners, she has some tips. 

“Make sure you are truly happy with what you are doing, and try not to be so worried about making money,” she said. “If you enjoy your business and you are good at it, it will grow over time.”

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