modista highlights student entrepreneurs at small business expo


modista fashion group hosted a small business expo featuring more than 20 student-owned businesses. // photo by kelly koegler

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, Modista Fashion Group hosted its first small business expo which exposed both club and community members to their peers’ small businesses. Modista was founded in 2008 and focused on creating a community for minority fashion students. 

There was a range of products and services offered with a variety of styles to choose from at the event. The event also highlighted a number of Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. If you are interested in the background behind some of the Black-owned businesses featured at the event, here is some information about four you can shop at Kent State. 


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It’s Wasted Baby

It’s Wasted Baby, founded by Kiara Howard, offers a range of trendy, yet sustainable, products. Howard’s mission is to “show people that having sustainable fashion is something that is realistic and can be done.” She values keeping the brand affordable because many people see slow fashion as being very expensive and this could help “get people on the bandwagon” for shopping more sustainably. 


Howard is “grandma taught” with everything she knows, from sewing to using sustainable and second-hand materials. Because of this, Howard has been in business her whole life, sewing and creating for people, but finally founded the brand It’s Wasted Baby in early 2020 at the start of the pandemic. 


The biggest issue Howard has faced as an entrepreneur is finding sustainable manufacturers. Howard elaborated, “I love sewing but I can’t make everything,” as the products she makes and sells are at such a high demand. 


Second hand doesn’t have to be out of date, as Howard said, “it’s wasted but it’s worth it.” If you want to shop It’s Wasted Baby, you can find the brand on Depop. Check out its Instagram where you can find new releases and any pop-up sale information. 


Safe Defense

Jariya Polk, founder of Safe Defense, where she sells “non-lethal weapon kits that are stylish, affordable and customizable.” Polk said her products are called kits instead of keychains because she allows the customer to choose where they use her product, making them entirely customizable. 


Polk’s entrance to the world of entrepreneurship was a mix of coursework and personal experience. 


“I was getting chased by a dog one time, and I didn’t have nothing to alert anyone or defend myself,” Polk said.


Being able to provide what she needed in that moment for others while also teaching them how to safely and properly use each of the items in the kit is of the utmost importance to Safe Defense. 


Safe Defense features three main styles, child, standard and deluxe, which come with a different array of non-lethal safety items. If you are interested in shopping from Safe Defense, you can visit, as well as its Instagram. Instructions for how to use each product are also available on the website. 


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Tyler Dixon is the founder behind HNYDRP, a multi-faceted business that sells clothing, posters and magazines and is looking forward to a future range of products. Dixon’s biggest inspiration is Virgil Abloh, for “his way of designing outside of the box” in everything from clothing to furniture to cars. 


The idea behind the brand is, as Dixon says, is to “leave your mark, a positive mark, on someone or something.” Having his own idea, sense of self and creativity is how Dixon found the ability to create the brand and inspire others to think outside of the box. 


You can find HNYDRP’s current selection of products on its website and on Instagram


Ciety Boutique

Ciety Boutique is a small jewelry brand founded by Joanna Georges. The name Ciety Boutique comes from the word “society” because the brand is “focusing on disregarding society’s expectations and helping customers redefine their life.”


Georges has always known she wanted to be an entrepreneur, doing everything from taking business classes in high school to dual majoring in fashion merchandising and entrepreneurship. Ciety Boutique has been in business for two years now, but went under a rebrand about a year ago to sell exclusively jewelry. 


Georges didn’t always know what business she wanted to start specifically, at least not until the pandemic hit, where she landed on jewelry. 


“I decided to sell jewelry because I like accessorizing and I know I would continue to love it,” Georges said.


Being passionate about your product is an important part of running a business, as it keeps you invested and excited for the future to come. 


If you are interested in shopping from Ciety Boutique and its “affordable luxury” you can find the brand online at and on both Instagram and TikTok.


There were more than 20 businesses that participated in the event. You can find businesses not mentioned here on Instagram using this post


Editor’s Note: The author, Finora Reilly, is affiliated with Modista Fashion Group as its Director of Communications. 

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