For College of Charleston junior Alison Rourk, what started off as a doodle of her sorority house in the spring of 2017 has matured into a prosperous sticker business.
Rourk often experimented with drawing apps to express her passion for graphic design. Meanwhile, her involvement with Zeta Tau Alpha gave her the perfect muse for her first sticker design. From that point on, her business, SurfSide Stickers, took off.
“I thought it would be cool to get [the drawings] as stickers for my computer,” says Rourk. “I had friends in other sororities who wanted their own, so I started working with a manufacturer to produce the stickers.”
You can see Rourk’s success when walking through Addlestone Library where stickers of sorority houses representing many chapters at CofC embellish students’ laptops. She has also branched out to drawing famous Charleston landmarks, like the pineapple fountain at the city’s famed Waterfront Park, which decorates many computers as well.
Her success has stretched much further than Charleston, however. So far, she has created stickers for sorority houses at over 40 universities. Not only is she selling to many places, but she is also selling in large quantities. This past winter she celebrated her first order of 500 stickers.
Rourk sells her product on a Facebook page for SurfSide Stickers where clients message her about custom designs. She mainly promotes her product over social media, but also receives endorsements by word of mouth. Since most of her clients are sorority chapters, business spreads through that network quickly.
Although business is booming for Rourk now, starting this business wasn’t something she was always certain about.
“I was really unsure if I wanted to make stickers for other people and put myself out there, but my mom gave me the courage that my work was good enough and that people would be interested,” says Rourk.
Rourk, who is a marketing major, keeps her sticker business running with help from her mom, who handles shipping orders and communication with potential clients.
Even as a busy college student, Rourk doesn’t see her business as a chore.
“Since it’s something that I enjoy doing, it really doesn’t feel like work,” she says. “I actually use the drawing process as a way to destress from school sometimes.”
In the next year, Rourk hopes to expand her client base beyond sororities. She is also working on an ambassador program in which customers can refer someone and earn a percentage from the sale.
“I love that girls across the country have my artwork on their computers, and it has really given me the confidence to venture into other things,” she says.
Maggie Vickrey is a rising junior from Chicago studying communication and sociology at the College of Charleston.