Stitches to Startup

Andrea Muliawan recieved a grant that helped her turn a hobby into a budding business.

September 27, 2023

Tyler Applegate

Andrea Muliawan headshot.
Photo credit: courtesy of Andrea Muliawan

In the midst of a pandemic, while many were seeking solace in newfound hobbies, Andrea Muliawan ’26 was weaving her passion into a burgeoning online business: Andrea's Fiber Arts. The initiative began with a crochet needle, thread, and a profound sense of creativity.

As Muliawan’s designs took shape, so did her entrepreneurial spirit. With the support of a Burton D. Morgan Microgrant, Muliawan realized how this small business could turn into a lifelong side gig. On September 27, the second-year biology and history student will share insights from her entrepreneurial voyage in a talk in Moffett Auditorium (lower level of Mudd Center) hosted by the Office of Entrepreneurship. Intrigued by her journey and keen to know more about how she manages her business aspirations alongside her dream of attending medical school, we caught up with Muliawan for a quick Q&A.

What sparked your journey into crocheting, and how did that transition into the inception of Andrea’s Fiber Arts on Etsy?

I began crocheting during the early days of the pandemic, with my mom’s knitting tools. Initially, I followed online patterns, but soon I felt the urge to freehand my designs, allowing for more creative expression. A few months after I initiated my Instagram account, I was propelled to start my Etsy shop. The platform seemed an apt space to showcase and sell my creations.

Managing a growing online store while balancing college studies must have been quite the challenge. How did you adapt your business model to fit your academic commitments?

My primary challenge was advertising my products while keeping up with my studies. I also participated in on-campus markets, which meant some of my Etsy-listed items were sold in person. This made fulfilling online orders on the fly quite challenging. I pivoted to making items to order for Etsy and later transitioned to selling digital downloads of my Hera Top pattern. This shift allowed me to focus more on school without compromising the business.

The Burton D. Morgan Microgrant was a game-changer for you. What made you apply, and how has it reshaped your outlook towards Andrea’s Fiber Arts and your future goals?

I initially applied for the microgrant after seeing it advertised in the Campus Digest. I had already made some pieces that I was excited about selling, so that spurred me on. Receiving the grant was an eye-opener. Before it, my professional goals were centered on attending medical school and embarking on a physician’s journey. That’s still a dream I’m ardently pursuing. However, the microgrant made me realize I could juggle a side gig that did not have to be a primary source of income but could serve as a creative outlet. It’s all about having fun, experimenting, and picking up interpersonal skills that can be applied anywhere—including in a medical profession!

For those inspired by Andrea’s journey and wish to witness her creativity firsthand, you can explore her unique crochet designs on her Etsy shop, Andrea's Fiber Arts. To stay updated with her latest creations and entrepreneurial ventures, give her a follow on Instagram at @andreasfiberarts.

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