It’s safe to say that we have all doodled in our notebooks before, whether it was during a particularly boring class or just filling time at home. By now, a lot of us have mastered drawing our name in bubble letters and perfecting a smiley face, but have you ever seen your doodles come to life?
Corey Paige has.
It all started with some poster boards and Sharpies. Paige would create collages for her friends to hang in their dorm rooms at school, bringing a piece of home with them. After transferring to Tulane University for her sophomore year of college, she made a piece centered around the school and posted it on her Instagram. With great feedback came the idea to take commissions and sell them on Redbubble, ultimately getting many requests for sleepaway camp collages in addition to the college collages. Eventually, the company expanded to include new products and clothing became a popular addition.
While going to school full time and adjusting to life in a new state on a new campus, Paige’s business started to grow just as she was going away to study abroad in Florence. With stores interested in selling her pillow and legging designs, her mom making deliveries at home and herself taking art classes, Paige suddenly had to learn how to juggle a business along with school, while being literally across the world.
Junior year, while oftentimes spent going abroad, is also spent stressing out about the future. But Paige wasn’t stressed – she knew all along what she really wanted to do.
“I remember the end of senior year, I called my house and I was like ‘so…am I finding a job?’ and my dad was like ‘well, do you want to work for yourself? Do you want to do this?’ And I was like ‘Yeah, I do.’”
Since then, Paige, her family and a few interns have created the company Corey Paige Designs. With 12.6 thousand followers on Instagram and 23.9 thousand followers on Tik Tok, they have grown quite the following. She’s even had two of her designs painted on murals in Miami.
Although she started by selling collage posters, her business turned into much more than that. With her designs on pillows, leggings, sports bras, shirts, bandanas and more, her company is well rounded and no longer relies on the collages that started it. And when quarantine began, a now familiar accessory joined the list of products that featured her designs.
Paige was forced to deal with the closure of one of the main factories that produced her clothing. But rather than dwell on the bad, she took the opportunity to make something else that at the time, not a lot of people were making: face masks.
“I thought it was the craziest suggestion because we didn’t know we would have to be wearing them!” And now, six months later, over 7,000 face masks have been sold.
You might be thinking, how does she do it all by herself? On top of designing, she teaches Procreate classes over Zoom and is in collaboration with different companies, such as Dormify, to create new products. Although it’s hard, she makes sure that everyone has something to do and to prioritize.
“Delegating is really important, and it’s hard because when I run the business and I feel like I can do everything the right way or better than someone else, I really need to focus on what’s the most important things that I need to get done and give my other interns other things to work on.”
And let’s just say they’ve been working a lot. Recently, Corey Paige Designs launched their University of Michigan collection, the latest university that she has paired up with to create approved merchandise. Tulane, Alabama and Syracuse are among some of the other collaborations Paige has worked on.
In terms of what’s next, Paige wants to focus on art and painting, and potentially painting a mural of her own in the future. As for everyone who has dreams of starting their own company, this is what she has to say:
“You have to be fully passionate about it. You can see now in quarantine so many people are starting their own businesses, but who knows if they will stick with them once they go back to school or college…when you start something and you are the owner and founder it is your job and you are running all aspects of it… Be unique. Find something that makes you stand out.”
There are now plenty of people who are creating their own college apparel lines or selling designs online, yet when Paige started doing it, little to nobody else on the market was. She filled a niche that was previously nonexistent, and that launched her business to success. So, think about what isn’t prevalent in today’s shopping world: what company would you start?
Shop Corey Paige Designs to find a piece you love!