UC Davis student entrepreneurs are driven by art and community, not profit 

They share how selling their art at the Davis Art Market gives them a creative outlet

By MARIA MARTINEZ CASTRO — [email protected]

The Davis Art Market is a hub for art creators, small business owners and vendors to share and sell their wares to the Davis community. On 3rd Street, you can find many products lining the sidewalks – including crochet hats, unique fashion, handmade jewelry and customized acrylic nails.

While many UC Davis students use this space to promote their businesses and art, other artists from the surrounding area have also set up shop inside the art market. The market has even grown to attract and accommodate vendors outside of Davis.

Although the art fair does not stand alone for UC Davis student entrepreneurs, it has served as a platform for many students to start and grow their small businesses.

Pinny Kantacheerawat, a fourth-year mechanical and aerospace engineering major, and Lauren Tsujioka, a fourth-year political science major, are working partners. Cowtown Nails. Their company focuses on creating beautiful and customized acrylic nails.

“For me, I feel that nails are the same as my artistic side,” says Kantacheerawat. “I’m doing a super academic major, so I feel like every time I paint my nails, it’s like another way of relaxing, just taking time out. Then the products come out, and I’m really happy because they’re really good. ”

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The passion for art has pushed some students into the world of business and entrepreneurship, even presenting them with a future career path that they did not initially imagine.

“I never really thought about business,” Tsujioka said. “I’m a political science major, so actually, it made me think about getting a master’s in business marketing. I really like the small business side and trying new things. I always wanted to be something else, like a career in public policy or something, and it really changed my path.

Ahndiya Kiburi, a third-year design and double major in international relations, is in the same position. Kiburi ran Ahndia Studiossmall business that sells crochet baskets, book sleeves, plant hangers and clothing such as tops and hats.

He said he went to college wanting to be a lawyer, and while that’s “off the table,” it’s no longer his top choice.

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“My major was design,” Kiburi said. “But then, I started studying political science, and I was like, ‘It’s not 100% for me.’ So, I was like, ‘let me make my hobby a big part of my job.’ Why is that wrong, really?”

Although entrepreneurship can be an alternative to the typical nine-to-five job, some student entrepreneurs are not focused on money. Kiburi sees his small business and art market as a means to share his art and passion with others.

“I’m ready to make more decisions if I do what I want to do,” Kiburi said. “The motivation is more to be creative as an entrepreneur than to make the most money in the least amount of time.”

Tsujioka says that interacting with customers is one of the most rewarding parts of running a business.

“The positive side is, actually, seeing the customers’ faces light up when they get their nails done,” Tsujioka said. “Or, when they come and show us the nails they have, it makes us very happy.”

Heron Rana, who is behind the “@davis_street_market” on Instagram, says the market started as a platform for artists to share their art and promote each other.

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“For me, the [Davis] The art market is a much more open space for [community] but not like the economy,” said Rana. “I never thought people would bank on the art market. But they do, which is amazing but it’s also another form of validation.”

While the Davis Art Market has evolved into a platform for UC Davis small business owners to expand their stores, it remains a place of art, inclusion, diversity and community.

“It really makes it easy for people who are just coming in or young people to explore their art,” Rana said. “That’s the best part of me. Create a safe space for people to do this without the pressure of, ‘Am I going to get the money I put into this?’ I believe that many people, even if they do not sell anything, they do not lose because you take the love of the community.

Author: Maria Martinez Castro — [email protected]


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