Young Entrepreneur Spotlight: Corey Paige of Corey Paige Designs
Every now and again a young, successful woman climbs the ranks of entrepreneurship and creates a dynasty even before graduating college. One of these students is Corey Paige of Corey Paige Designs, a young, hungry entrepreneur who created her company in her dorm room at Tulane University.
Corey’s story is a tale of breakthrough inspiration and drive that represents many of the young women and men today who want to get ahead of the game and create a life built on their passions. For an inspiring Saturday read, take a moment as we dive in and interview Corey, a woman to watch!
1. Tell us about your business and how you got started
I started my company, Corey Paige Designs, in my dorm room at Tulane University. Sophomore year of college, I would always sit at my desk and doodle in my sketchbook. I would draw collage pictures for my friends to hang in their dorms.
One day I posted one of my drawings on Instagram and received a tremendous amount of positive feedback and began taking personalized design requests. I started to put my artwork on Redbubble.com where I could upload my designs to be printed on a variety of products from home decor, apparel to stationary. As my popularity on social media grew, I started to receive calls from retail stores across the country to carry my merchandise.
It was at this point when I decided to turn my hobby into a business and Corey Paige Designs was born.
2. How would you define your “style” of art?
I would say I have developed an expressive style of pop art, by combining bright and colorful imagery, icons, patterns, and words. I love using bright colors and black outlines in my art.
3. What are perks and downfalls to starting a business while in college?
There were definitely pros and cons but I would say the perks outweigh the negatives. For one, I was able to apply what I was learning in my classes to my business. For example, while most students sit in a class like financial accounting wondering if they’ll ever need to use the material being taught again, I was already completing financial statements for my company.
Second, I was starting to make a small income which is always nice for a college student. Third, for tailgate season and Mardi Gras, people would always come to me to buy their outfits. When I would walk around at these events, I would see tons of students wearing Corey Paige Designs, which was always super gratifying.
One downfall was the pressure I put on myself at times to skip social activities and work on my business. Yet throughout high school and in college, I was always able to balance my school work, social life and then eventually my business. It was difficult, but all three were very important to me so I made it work.
4. What are some of your favorite projects/collaborations?
I would have to say that seeing my design on a mural in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami was a great feeling and accomplishment. The Peace of Miami design will always be one of my favorite pieces of work. Last November, I was able to get a second mural up in Wynwood, my Love You More Mural. I still can’t believe that at the age of 23 I have two murals in Miami. It’s always so amazing when I get tagged in photos from people around the world visiting my murals. It’s all very rewarding.
Another project that I recently completed was a design for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A parent of 2 students that survived the Parkland shooting reached out to me asking if I would make a design that symbolized #ParklandStrong. I was honored and touched that they came to me and felt my design would bring smiles to peoples’ faces during such a difficult time.
After seeing the photos and videos they shared with me, I was glad to know that this piece had such a positive impact on the community. Creating art is my passion, and it makes it even better when there’s a special meaning behind it. I hope to continue to spread joy through my art and design.
5. What was it like studying abroad in Florence? How did it help your art and business?
While in Florence, I studied at SACI Florence, a college of art and design. I was amazed at how much more serious I became about my art while I was studying there. I even called my advisor while I was in Florence to change my art minor to an art major because I realized that was what I wanted to focus on for the remainder of my college career. The professors offered me such great advice and I learned many different styles and techniques. I was able to come back to Tulane and integrate what I learned into my work.
This was also an integral time in my business. I had made my business Instagram the summer before I traveled abroad, so word of mouth was spreading quickly. I started to receive a tremendous amount of custom design requests, which I would work on at my desk in my Florence apartment.
I started to build up my portfolio of designs during my downtime when I wasn’t in class or traveling. Because of the time difference, I would wake up and check my Instagram account to see that a ton of people were wearing Corey Paige Designs leggings to their college tailgates. It kept me motivated and determined to keep designing and growing my business.
6. If you could choose two classes in college that directly benefited your business and art, what would they be?
I would say the art classes I took in Florence definitely helped me, specifically the intermediate graphic design course I took.
I also really loved the leadership class I took my senior year of college at Tulane. The professor was one of those rare teachers that go above and beyond to teach you about life and success after college. He met with me individually and offered advice and guidance about my business and put me in touch with others that could help me. We are still in contact today.
7. Who are some artists/influencers/celebrities/you follow that inspire you?
I am most inspired by hard-working artists, entrepreneurs, and CEOs:
Elizabeth Sutton of Elizabeth Sutton Collection
Zara Terez of Terez.com
Amanda Zuckerman of Dormify.com
Kendall and Libby Glazer of Stoney Clover
Dana Pollack of Dana’s Bakery
8. If you could give college-age young women and young men advice about pursuing their dreams, what would it be?
Start small, take baby steps, and be patient because you’ll learn a lot along the way. Nothing happens overnight, and you need to stay committed and expect bumps in the road. Take advantage of family members, friends, and others willing to help and support you, because you can’t do it all yourself.
9. Did you feel like running a business hindered your social life in college?
I spoke about this in a question above, but the answer is I really don’t. Growing up I always had a good sense of balance and was able to continue this in college as well. My social life has always been important to me and it is always good to take a break from working to clear your mind. In college, and still now, I don’t love to miss out on a good time with friends (FOMO😉).
10. What is a dream collaboration you have in mind? If you could pick anyone…
I would actually love to collaborate with some of the artists/companies I mentioned above (some of which are in the works😉). But if I were to dream really really big, I think an Adidas collaboration would be awesome.
11. What can we expect to see/hear from you in the future?
There is so much I still want to do. I feel like I am still at the beginning of my career and I’m always adding to my bucket list along the way. My favorite part of my business is designing and creating art. That is my passion and ultimately what I want to do more of down the road. I think it is really important and beneficial to team up and collaborate with other brands and companies. I want to focus more on partnerships in the future. I have some exciting collaborations coming up.
12. How can people who are interested in what you do contact you?
Do you have a student or young eentrepreneur you’d like to nominate for a student spotlight? Let us know! Leave us a comment or head over to Instagram or Facebook and nominate your bestie for a feature in our blog.