In 2012, Janie Cooke ’89 and her business partner Caroline Nix started O-Venture, a leather accessories company aiming to design convenient accessories for women. You can find their products, including their Big O Rings and Ossential and Big Ossential Card Cases, which made Oprah’s List of Favorite Things in 2014, in over 700 stores or online at o-venture.com.
What inspired you to start O-Venture?
We were sitting at breakfast one morning and we said [we] lost our keys all the time and maybe if we could find a way to never lose our keys again and give [a] woman an extra hand that we would be onto something.
What has been the most rewarding part of starting your own business?
Most of the stores we sell in are female-owned businesses, they are all businesses that they have all started and they are working every day to give back to their community and make a difference. So I think the most rewarding part is being in contact with all of these women who are so inspiring.
What has been the coolest experience you have had because of your business?
We really modeled a lot of our basic business ideals off of Sarah Blakely, who started Spanx. In all of her Spanx catalogs she highlights female entrepreneurs twice a year, and she calls it her Leg Up Award. When we started our business, we applied for that and we won it in 2013.
What advice do you have for students who aspire to start their own businesses?
I think the only reason I am here is by remaining flexible. If you remain creative in the way you are, problem-solving and flexible in the way that you do things, there is kind of no limit to where you could end up.