UMW Alumni Talk Entrepreneurship at Small Business Panel Event

A new business venture requires hard work, determination, creativity and above all, a lot of heart and soul.

“The sense of pride and accomplishment of owning a business is the highest feeling,” said Alicia Austin Morgan, who attended the University of Mary Washington and is co-owner of Fredericksburg vintage and consignment boutique Forage. “Definitely listen to your heart and rely on your instincts. There’s no right or wrong way to operate a business. If you work hard you will be rewarded with success.”

(from left): Carl Lawson ’08, Alicia Austin Morgan, Megan Parry ’05, Linda Fairall ’06, Erik Bruner-Yang ’07 and Jay Parrish ’03

Morgan and Forage co-owner Megan Parry ’05 were among seven UMW alumni who participated in a recent small business panel event. Fellow panelists Erik Bruner-Yang ’07, chef and owner of Toki Underground in Washington, D.C., Linda Fairall ‘06, owner of Fabulous Frocks in Alexandria, Va., Jay Parrish ’03, co-owner of Parrish Learning Zone, LLC, and Carl Lawson ’08, chief operating officer of CBAI & Associates in Fredericksburg, gave advice on starting a business and discussed the challenges and opportunities they have faced along the way. Leslie Tilghman ’74, Alumni Association Board of Directors vice president, moderated the discussion, sponsored by the offices of alumni relations and career services.

“The goal was to create an opportunity for students to hear from recent graduates who own and operate small businesses,” said Mark Thaden, director of alumni relations. “That way, students interested in starting their own enterprise could gain some insight about what it takes to be an entrepreneur.”

Fairall, who opened her bridal consignment boutique in 2011, said her background in studio art helps her give and take constructive criticism about her business.

Jay Parrish ’03 answers a question from a student at a recent alumni panel event.

“When you take art [classes] a huge part is critiquing art,” she said. “You watch people being able to grow because people verbalize their critiques.”

Bruner-Yang, who majored in business administration at UMW, said the combination of classes he took in business and the social sciences and humanities gave him a foundation for his life as an acclaimed chef and business owner.

“The liberal arts help you grow as an individual,” he said.

For Carmielia Dalmedia, a sophomore business administration and political science major, the panel discussion made her think about post-graduation possibilities.

“I was thinking about starting a business in the future and after the panel it makes me want to do it,” she said.

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News release prepared by: Sarah Tagg