Arts & Leisure

Bates Entrepreneurs: Beans Neckies

When I was a sophomore in high school I started my very own small business. Going to high school in the sierras of California made for cold mornings, snowy days, and thus a need for warm things around my neck and necks of others. This is where the idea started. A “neckie!” A fleece circular scarf is essentially what that is. These “neckies” are generally made out of pieces of fleece, so they are super cozy.

My name is Kathleen, but all of my friends call me Bean and thus I decided to brand my neckies: “Bean’s Neckies.” When it comes to sewing, you sew everything inside out, so it makes it super difficult to conceptualize the finished product of a neckie. With the help of my mom, a very crafty woman, we finally made a product: a perfect, warm, cozy, Bean’s neckie.

Growing up as a ski racer and being a part of the ski racing community created many opportunities for me to launch my own small business. I was always traveling to ski races where hundreds of ski racers with cold necks would buy my neckies! During high school, this was a great hobby for me. I made money, got to be creative, and learn about the ins and outs of being a young entrepreneur.

What did I learn all those years? I learned a ton about sewing and how to use a sewing machine. I spent many nights frustrated at my kitchen table messing with tangled string and unfinished neckies. However, I began to learn that this was all part of the process.

I slowly got more efficient with the sewing machine, wasted less fabric, and made more neckies. As I began to sell more neckies, I also decided I needed to market my product to a bigger audience.

As a young person on social media I decided that Instagram would be a perfect platform to post fun pictures of my products and people in beautiful places wearing my colorful bean’s neckies. This opened up my product to a whole new realm of people. The order process was simple. All people had to do was direct message my bean’s neckies Instagram account (@beans_neckies) with their order, their address, and say how they would pay (usually venmo, or a check in the mail).

People would then send me pictures of either themselves, their friends or family wearing my neckies and they would be featured on the account. This was a cycle that continued into my senior year of high school and I really loved creating products and piecing together fabrics that I had picked out. Bean’s Neckies fostered a love for creativity that has stayed with me throughout my college years.

At Bates, I have taken countless studio classes and jump at every opportunity to create things with my hands. This year as a senior living off campus, I have gone off the meal plan and enjoy creating meals and definitely consider it an art form.

You may wonder why I keep using the past tense while talking about my neckie company. Ever since I came to college and no longer have a sewing machine in my dorm room it has been hard to keep up and produce as many neckies as I did in high school. However, I still do make neckies for my friends and family upon special request!

Kathleen Smith
Contributing Writer

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