Introducing The Monarch Way

Maggie Giordano | Assistant News Editor

Originally posted August 2017

Student and Alumni entrepreneurs are making merchandise available to shoppers in the Norfolk area. The Monarch Way store had a soft opening on Aug. 21 and features products from companies that range from fashion to food and everything in between. The store is conveniently located in the University Village at 4306 Monarch Way; which is a short walk from the campus.

They are open various hours throughout the week, which are Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The idea for the store came from staff members of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center who wanted to broaden the entrepreneurial culture at the university. They wanted it to be possible for students that have companies and products to begin selling in a retail environment with little risk.

Students or alumni must submit an application for a six-month membership to a board of directors who then review the applications to decide which companies would work best for the store during that time. After they are accepted, they can apply for an additional six months. This biannual system is to ensure that different companies have the same opportunities as each other to sell products in the store. It also allows for the store to have diversity in merchandise every so often.

The retail store is an “ENACTUS” project. ENACTUS (Entrepreneurial Action for Others Creates a Better World for Us All), is a non-profit social entrepreneurship student organization that reaches colleges and universities all across the U.S. and in 36 countries. In order to meet the criteria of an ENACTUS program, a project has to have a transfer of knowledge and have sustainable positive change.

The young entrepreneurs are meeting both of these criteria in multiple ways from transforming waste plastic into fashionable bags and clothing to using hip hop culture to teach people about plant based foods and healthy living. These diverse products appeal to everyone, not only students.

The official grand opening of the store will take place on Nov. 2 at 12 p.m. Food and beverages will be provided and possible promotions, as well as an appearance by the university president, John Broderick.


Photo by Maggie Giordano

Maurice Brooks

Founder and CEO, Shwim

Shwim, Showing How We Integrate Minds, began in 2016. It was founded by Brooks who graduated in 2017 with a degree in Public Health. He took his passion for clothing and began a company that caters to everyone no matter different cultures or beliefs. The Shwim mission statement states that it was created, “to promote and develop cultural integration and diversity within the community through fashion.” The products are available for both men and women and include shirts, dresses, pants, the unique “3m jacket” and more.

Purchases can be made in The Monarch Way store and online at

Facebook: Shwim Clothing, LLC

Twitter: @ShwimClothing

Pinterest: ShwimClothing

Instagram: ShwimClothing

Photo by Maggie Giordano

Glenn Bazemore

Founder, Deep Space Divine Finds

Deep Space Divine Finds was created in March 2017 by Bazemore, a junior studying Mechanical Engineering. He saw the uproar of fidget spinners and decided that he could make a better one himself. He then created the Vectorz Sprocket Spinner. The ADHD-focus tools are made from recycled bike chains and can be used to focus during studying, test taking and boredom. Bazemore even does 3-D printing in which he prints and sells figurines of characters from games and movies. Each product is of high quality and are built with the customers in mind seeing as there is an option of customization with each order. Bazemore is a Star Wars fan and has aspirations to become an astronaut himself; therefore, he wanted the name, Deep Space Divine Finds, to reflect his passions.

For more information, visit the store or contact

Instagram: deep_space_divine_finds

Etsy: Deep Space Divine Finds

eBay: marcusbaze

Photo by Maggie Giordano

Mike Beyrodt

Founder, Pull Start Fire

Pull Start Fire has been in business for about a year. The pull-string fire-starter requires no matches or lighters. It is windproof up to 22 mph, rain proof and lights wet wood with no kindling needed. Beyrodt came across the idea when he was on a negative-18-degree snowboarding trip in West Virginia when a friend asked why they couldn’t just push a button to start a fire. He went home and combined his love for fire and mechanical engineering, and created the one-of-a-kind product. The alumnus graduated in 2015 and is now making the fire starters with his wife, Alyssa Beyrodt, who graduated ODU in 2017.

Fire starters can be purchased as singles or in pack of 3 at the store and online at

Instagram: pullstartfire

Youtube: Pull Start Fire

Christina Zhu

Founder, GradWYSE

The academic regalia business began in 2015 when Zhu went home to China for a visit. Her husband had recently graduated from a Ph.D. program and found the cap and gown to be very expensive. They searched online but were unable to find cheaper options. Zhu found a manufacturer in China who produced academic regalia at a low cost and she decided to begin GradWYSE. Gowns can be purchased or rented to give students cheaper options for their special day. The gowns can be picked up in the store after purchase. Zhu also offers souvenirs and gifts in the store.

For more information, visit

Facebook: Gradwyse

Twitter: @GradWYSE

Instagram: gradwyse

Photo by Maggie Giordano

Genenieve Conwell

Founder, Designs by Genenieve

The Norfolk native began her clothing business in August 2017 after struggling with the idea for 10 years. The company designs fashionable tutus for age groups ranging from infants to adults. These colorful items are the perfect staple for birthday parties, sorority events and more. Conwell strives to encourage young girls to follow their dreams and accomplish their goals, much like she did when she decided to finally start her company.

You can contact Conwell directly for custom orders and designs by phone or email.


Phone: (757) 553-1757

Photo by Maggie Giordano

Aydin Oksoy

Founder, Starfish Textiles

Starfish Textiles officially launched on Jan. 1, 2016. The New York native offers traditional Turkish towels called Peshtemal, which was the original towel before the terry cloth towel. The cotton based product dries faster and can absorb more water than a terry cloth towel. They are also more compact. The towels come in different combinations. They vary in size, thickness, color and patterns and can be used as a shawl or a couch throw as well. The senior Ph.D. student in the College of Business offers different options in the store. They can also be purchased online at

Facebook: Starfish Textiles

Twitter: @StarfishTextile

Instagram: @starfishtextiles

Zahyria Temple

Founder, Monkey Cakez Cupcakery

This tasty business has been active for about a year. In the store, they offer flavors such as French toast, peanut butter and jelly, oreo and more. The ODU senior, majoring in business management, is open to suggestions from customers and will offer free tastings as well. She offers large orders of cupcake, cakes and puppy cakes for your furry friends. The mission statement reads that they, “deliver mouth watering cupcakes, with an underlying purpose of promoting equality and inclusivity to people living with learning disabilities.” The Norfolk native hopes to start a non-profit organization in the future to help those with disabilities work in any part of her business.

For more information and other flavor options, you can visit

Facebook: MonkeyCakez Cupcakery

Twitter: @MC_Cupcakery

Instagram: @monkeycakescupcakery

Photo by Maggie Giordano

Kaylenne Brown

Founder, Sweat N Swag Fitness

Sweat N Swag Fitness has is on a mission to teach the world about health and plant-based foods through hip-hop culture. Brown, a former active-duty Marine, began her business three years ago as a fitness company that offered personal training and nutrition coaching. She then evolved as a chef and began to focus on the food aspect. The company offers kale chips, sandwiches, soups, meal preparation, juices and more without animal products. The 2013 dance and theatre graduate says that people do not normally realize that health and wellness is the tenth element of hip-hop culture. You can stop by the shop for more information on her mission and products.


Twitter: @SweatNSwagFit

Instagram: @sweat_n_swag

Photo by Maggie Giordano

Anika Williams

Founder, NOISIA

NOISIA was founded in August 2016 by Williams, now a senior studying communications. She always had visions of becoming an entrepreneur, and decided to stop listening to doubts and started her company. The company offers “dad hats” that rock the logo of an eye with beams representing how far a vision can go. Using the word “VISION” backwards and upside down as NOISIA, she encourages people to make their visions become a reality. There are many different colors available.

For more information, visit

Twitter: @NOISIA757

Instagram: @noisia757

Photo by Maggie Giordano

Sophia O’Neal

Founder, 2 Pink Peas & Allita Fashion

O’Neal, a junior studying international business, began sewing at a young age. She started the company with her sister in elementary school, but did not take it far until she restarted it by herself in May 2016. The designer discovered that purses were one of the main products in the fashion industry that caused pollution. She then decided her purpose was to create a recycled, fashionable product. With each purse sold, they are saving fabric from going into a landfill. She offers various colors and patterns which can be seen in store and more online at

Allita Fashion will also be available soon from O’Neal. This separate enterprise will offer tote bags made of vegan faux leather material from Taiwan and thread made from recycled water bottles from Haiti. These bags are being made at a fair-trade factory in Rwanda.

Pre-ordering will launch on October 15. Visit

Facebook: 2 Pink Peas

Twitter: @2pinkpeasva

Instagram: @2pinkpeas

Facebook: Alitta Fashion

Instagram: @alittafashion

Pinterest: Alitta Fashion

Photo by Maggie Giordano

Hamilton Perkins

Founder, Hamilton Perkins Collection

Each designer travel bag from Hamilton Perkins Collection is made up of 17.5 recycled plastic bottles. The E-commerce retailer graduated from ODU with a degree in business administration in 2008 and then earned his M.B.A. from William and Mary. The company, which began in 2016, offers the “Earth Bag,” the “Earth V-Neck T-shirt” and the “Earth Crew T-Shirt” for both men and women. The shirts are 50 percent plastic and 50 percent cotton. The collection has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, The Washington Post and Money Magazine.

You can view the collection either in store or at

Facebook: Hamilton Perkins Collection

Twitter: @HamiltonPerkins

Instagram: @hamiltonperkins

Snapchat: hamiltonperkins

Photo by Maggie Giordano

Janay Brown

Founder, Full Belly Delights

Brown’s delicious company started as a high school project in 2015. Full Belly Delights is an online gourmet retailer that specializes in handcrafted bacon products. Brown offers three products which include truffles, bacon pops and gourmet flavored bacon strips that come in seven flavors. Brown is a junior studying marketing and is originally from Northern Virginia. She offers both pork and turkey bacon for her customers and ships to all East Coast states.

You can check out Brown’s quick selling product in the store or online at

Facebook: Full Belly Delights, LLC

Twitter: @FB_Delights