In 2020, everyone had spring and summer plans that changed, in just a matter of weeks. For Hoosier native Ally Bacon, that meant leaving Milan, Italy—near the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak—and cutting short her Indiana University spring study abroad program.
Sent home and quarantined for two weeks, Bacon soon learned that her summer apparel merchandising internship in New York City had also been cancelled, leaving her without a key professional experience entering her senior year. “I thought, ‘I need to think of something I can do in my house and somehow set myself apart when I start interviewing for a job next year,” Bacon said.
She began printing photo images on sweatshirts and sweatpants and selling them to family and friends. Demand took off, and Bacon opened up a virtual shop, Bacon the Brand, on Instagram.
At first, Bacon used images off the Internet but after consulting with an IU professor about intellectual property law, she invited customers to send in their own images and she began creating some with the help of a friend. In her first two months, Bacon sold 100 pieces and hired an assistant.
“I might have to rethink what I am going to do after college. I would love to start my own business, but I also think that I’d like to get a corporate job that is well paying and get my feet wet,” she said. “I think that if I were to have a ‘real job,’ I would be exposed to more ideas that I could eventually incorporate into my own business.”
But changes in the retail industry may have a permanent impact on her job prospects in apparel merchandising. “I have my doubts about what it will be like in the future when I graduate,” Bacon said. “It’s definitely something I worry about, but I have learned so much from having my own little business, and that will definitely set me apart, I hope. “The pandemic has made me much smarter,” she said.