Local makers shine in SFU’s annual product entrepreneur competition
By Vivien Lee
This year’s #MadeBySFU competition was a celebration of product entrepreneurs and an important reminder to support local businesses. The eighth annual competition attracted SFU students, staff, and alumni competitors from seven faculties. A record number of SFU makers entered the competition selling sustainable apparel, jewelry, beauty products, artwork, personalized gifts, and more.
The top prizes included purchase orders from the SFU Spirit Shop and shelf space in its brick-and-mortar locations.
Slow fashion brand, Charlie & Paisley won a purchase order for its sustainable hair products handmade in Vancouver from natural and biodegradable fabrics such as silk noil and organic cotton. The brand’s co-founder, Taylor Wilson, is an undergraduate student in the School of Criminology passionate about sustainability.
“The exposure from winning the purchase order would help us broaden our audience, which is so vital for our small business during these difficult times,” says Wilson. “It’s an important milestone for us – one that would give us hope for the future.”
Pop culture and pun-infused greeting card company, Papermain also won a purchase order. The card designs are all illustrated by School of Communication alumnus, Nan Maung in her home studio. Her collection includes handmade, foiled kraft cards and colourful printed options.
“Having Papermain products as a retail presence in the SFU Spirit Shop would bring me full circle back to my alma mater. In the next five years I would like to increase our presence in retail and this purchase order is a starting point,” says Maung.
Soap company Kitten Komforts (which is owned by women in STEM) received a purchase order as well. Company co-founder Justine Munich is a physics PhD student in antimatter at SFU. Combining her love for science and skincare, she began making artisan soaps.
“We wanted to create a sustainable and ethical company centered on honesty and transparency. When COVID-19 hit, it felt like all our hard work was undone,” says Munich. “We are so honoured and proud to be able to sell our soaps in our home university’s bookstore.”
SFU Spirit Shop supervisor Peter Lisiecki says, “The SFU Spirit Shop is proud to be a part of the annual #MadebySFU event that helps promote SFU student entrepreneurs and their great ideas.”
The #MadeBySFU marketplace day, which is usually held in person, is the much-anticipated competition finale where the public can shop the competitors’ products. The competition organizer, Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection, re-imagined the day into an engaging online shopping experience to adhere to COVID-19 safety regulations.
“We are proud of how well all these product entrepreneurs have progressed through the competition and look forward to helping them with continued growth,” says Janice OBriain, director, Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection. “SFU is currently ranked No. 7 globally for entrepreneurial spirit, in part by how the university supports and celebrates its diverse innovation community through programs like #MadeBySFU.”
Winners of the 2020 #MadeBySFU competition are:
SFU Spirit Shop Purchase Order: Charlie & Paisley, Papermain, Kitten Komforts
SFU Innovates Prize: Recreative Apparel
SFU Alumni Association Prize: Aquila Soaps, Pajeon Pals
Top Fan Favourite Award: Charlie & Paisley
Fan Favourite First Runner-up: For the Seconds Jewelry
Fan Favourite Second Runner-up: Papermain
As a collaborative initiative between Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection and SFU Spirit Shop, #MadeBySFU was created in 2013 to celebrate product entrepreneurs. The 2020 final competition event was held in an online marketplace on Nov. 18, 2020.