Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Bridging gap between community and students through SEMO Market

Friday, April 30, 2021
Heidi Martinez-LaFentres, community vendor, shows off her tarot card readings, homemade oils, candles and bath herbs at the Enchanted Sisters Tarot table.
Photo by Allison Lauter

Southeast student Olivia Wheeler is the Vice President of Operations for the SEMO Market. The SEMO market allows student and community vendors to show off their brand and sell their products or artwork. Wheeler said the market was her Principles of Entrepreneurship class semester project.

The market is created and run by entrepreneurship students on select Saturdays of the school year. Commercial businesses, student artists or entrepreneurs can sign up for a spot at the fair.

Wheeler said working as the operations manager for the market gave her the opportunity to run a real business while utilizing her instructors as a support system.

“It really felt like by our teacher stepping back and not hounding us that he trusted us,” Wheeler said. “We have a textbook, but I learned more this one semester putting on the market than ever reading the textbook.”

Marketing, operations and finance teams composed of entrepreneurship students work together to run the market.

Old Town Cape and Southeast Facilities Management played large roles in making sure the markets ran smoothly, according to Wheeler. She said the best part of hosting the market was bridging the gap between the community and Southeast students.

Nikki Peters, Carol Peters and Allison Pfau represent The Grace Place by selling baby items, key rings, home decor and party decorations.
Photo by Allison Lauter

The market is filled with vendors, food trucks and entertainment. The entrepreneurship class hosted the first successful market on March 20, then April 10, and finally, April 25.

Sophomores Megan Clifford and Molly Viega create handmade jewelry. They saw handmade earrings and rings on TikTok and began crafting their own jewelry approximately a year ago.

“Each earring is a little bit different and unique; some are premade charms, and some are handmade charms,” Clifford said. “I get a needle and lighter, then heat it up so I can screw in an eyelet and make the earrings from there.”

A view from the entrance of Southern Lace Boutique’s pop-up shop.
Photo by Allison Lauter

Viega and Clifford said they use a ring mandrel and wrap the wire around it to get the desired size. At this point, the rings are customizable with beads or charms.

Most vendors said they’ve seen the market ad either around the Southeast campus or on social media. The entrepreneur students post ads on the Facebook group Living at Southeast weeks and days before the market to give small businesses time to prepare.

Freshman Ashley Koelker and Ryan Riddle create origami figures such as flowers and dragons then put them in jars for decoration.

“I had to organize all of my flowers for custom orders and get a variety of jars,” Koelker said. “The smaller the paper you use, the better they look. It takes me roughly a minute to create each origami piece.”

Riddle and Koelker said it takes approximately an hour and a half to create each jar.

While the last market of the school year has taken place, Wheeler said the entrepreneur executive students are hopeful for its return in the Fall ‘21 semester.