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Clarkson freshmen cut to the chase on campus

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POTSDAM - T. Graham Fisher recently transferred to Clarkson and was in need of a haircut. The Bethesda, Md., native formerly had his hair cut near home, but traveling 500 miles for a trim was impractical.

Fisher, a freshman mechanical engineering major, was in luck when he found fliers around Clarkson advertising “Campus Cuts,” a new on-campus hair salon founded by a group of freshman business students.

Each year, students in Marc Compeau’s Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation class spend the fall semester developing a business concept. This year’s class presented their ideas to a panel of alumni and faculty in November. Some groups were awarded Clarkson Business School loans to further develop their proposal.

Campus Cuts was one such project. On Feb. 1, a group of students opened the salon in “The Quad” between Cubley and Reynolds residence halls. The students worked between November and February to order supplies, install flooring, prepare the room and hire four local, trained hairstylists to staff Campus Cuts throughout the week.

Campus Cuts has also fostered a new partnership between Clarkson and the local business community, according to Compeau. It allows students to learn business lessons from seasoned entrepreneurs, and provides several local hairstylists with an extra source of revenue, he said.

“As a former Main Street entrepreneur myself it has been great to watch our students engage with local entrepreneurs in a partnership that benefits both groups,” Compeau said.

“While the business model is complex and included multiple licensing considerations and stakeholder groups, this group of students never got discouraged. I think the support of the local entrepreneurs they worked with had quite a bit to do with their confidence.”

Opening Campus Cuts was a whirlwind adventure for Potsdam native and general manager Mallory Fisher ’16. The experience has been invaluable as Fisher begins her business career.

“It’s something you’ve built. It’s an idea you had. You watched it grow into this,” Fisher said. “To see the final outcome is pretty cool.”

Fisher found the local hairstylists by contacting salons she frequented while growing up in Potsdam.

“The chance for the suppliers to work with students is a cool and different business proposition that excites us all,” Fisher said. “It’s a win-win because it provides the opportunity for the suppliers to not only make some extra cash, but also helps give us knowledge and experience about running a business.”

See a video with the Campus Cuts students at http://youtu.be/dGKK3MxqUfI .

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