Stephanie Dresher started her entrepreneurial journey at ten years old when her parents decided to enroll her in fashion classes where she learned how to sew. Over the years, Dresher’s sewing machine became dusty as she grew busy with being a teenage girl. But as a Rutgers University freshman, her sewing machine came out of retirement and Dresher became a CEO. The night before Dresher’s first football game day, she was picking out her outfit for the following day’s festivities and realized her Rutgers attire looked like everyone else’s. With a pair of scissors and her dusted-off sewing machine, she repurposed her plain tee-shirts and created something every girl on campus wanted.
Since then, Snipped by Steph has grown rapidly, now having over 11,000 followers on Instagram and pop-up shops at colleges around the United States. In addition to being a business owner, Dresher also works full time at a PR agency in New York City.
SC&I talks with Dresher about how she manages her career, being her own boss, and the MCM experiences that made her into a successful business owner and PR practitioner.
SC&I: Why did you choose SC&I for undergraduate and graduate studies?
SD: I always knew Public Relations would be my passion and what I would end up doing in the real world. I remember telling people this since freshman year of high school. I was aware that Rutgers had a great Communications and Public Relations program, so it was an easy choice. Fast forward to now I work in the PR industry during the day and I continue my other passion project, Snipped by Steph, at night.
Time management is one of the key factors and biggest challenges in owning a business. Being a student and owning a business meant I had no free time to myself and I had to be okay with that fact to succeed.
SC&I: How and why did you start your business Snipped by Steph?
SD: I have loved fashion since a very young age; growing up I would tell people that I wanted to be a fashion designer. My parents saw this passion and decided to enroll me in fashion classes when I was around 10 years old where I learned how to sew. Fast forward to my freshman year of college the night before the first football game day of the season. I was looking at my Rutgers t-shirts and knew I couldn’t just wear a plain, boring tee shirt that everyone else had. I got my scissors and took my sewing machine out of retirement. I snapped a pic of the final t-shirt to a group chat of the girls in my dorm. Their immediate responses were that they all “needed one.” This was overwhelmingly surprising to me. That week they badgered me to make an Instagram account, which I never expected to grow the way it has. That’s where Snipped by Steph was born on October 28th, 2016. As soon as I made that account I had over 30 orders for the following Saturday game day. I was running around snipping away and delivering the shirts around campus. From that start to now, where I am shipping nationwide, has been a crazy ride.
SC&I: What does a typical workday look like?
SD: As a student my typical workday would always differ but usually, I would get up for class around nine in the morning, and then back home around five or six at night. I have always been a night owl, so I would usually stay up working until three in the morning making clothes. Now that I have a full-time career I follow a similar schedule, but no longer stay up until three.
SC&I: What is the biggest challenge about owning a business?
SD: Time management is one of the key factors and biggest challenges in owning a business. Being a student and owning a business meant I had no free time to myself and I had to be okay with that fact to succeed. Sewing was and still is, a hobby that I do for fun, so it came easy to me. I really enjoy filling my days with making clothes, but it is a challenge sometimes. My business is really fulfilling to me though. The coolest part is that I travel around to different colleges and boutiques to have a pop-up shop, where all different people come together and shop my designs.
SC&I: How did being part of COM and MCM prepare you for your role as an entrepreneur?
SD: My creativity was the driving force that lead me where I am now, but SC&I helped cultivate that force into reality. SC&I gave me different perspectives on how to navigate the professional landscape that I faced as a young adult in the business world.I will always remember my classes with Associate Professor of Professional Practice and Communication Mark Beal and Teaching Professor and Director of the MCM and MHCI Masters Programs Richard Dool. The hands-on experiences Beal and Dool teach their classes is impossible to get anywhere else before entering the workforce. I find myself constantly quoting Beal in my daily work life as I remember instances that he would reference from the PR world. I truly don’t know what I would do without those courses in my life and career today.
At SC&I I learned the true importance of marketing. It’s funny when people ask me how others find out about my business and how surprised they become when I tell them I put no paid expenses towards it. There is no better marketing than word of mouth and I think that will always stand true. I was taught to genuinely understand my audience. It is important to not only know what your audience wants, but to immerse yourself into that specific audience. I engage with the media they engage with, listen to the music they listen to, read from the outlets they read from. I speak in the language my audience understands. Having a lingo that they understand will get businesses with the “in crowd” of your audience.
The hands-on experiences Beal and Dool teach their classes is impossible to get anywhere else before entering the workforce.
SC&I: Do you have any advice for current and prospective students?
SD: I would highly recommend joining the MCM program as I use a lot of that knowledge taught within that year in my career today. I also suggest taking a class by Beal and Dool, if you are able to. Aside from academics, I want students to remember not to take this time for granted! Go to the football games and tailgates, complete the Rucket List, you might regret it if you don’t.
More information on the Communication major and the Master of Communication and Media is on the Rutgers School of Communication and Information website.