My Wartburg education helped me grow my business

By Katie Hirv ’22

Inspiration often comes from the least expected places and circumstances. For Skylar Cunningham ’22, her business SkylarGraceCo came from COVID-19 putting a pause on the world.

“It started with me drawing illustrations of people on my iPad in March when quarantine started. I was kind of just drawing things, and people wanted me to replicate photos they had of them. I also started making stickers out of the drawings I liked and sold them to friends and family on Facebook. I then started an Etsy shop, and from there, I decided this was what I liked to do,” Cunningham said.

Before launching SkylarGraceCo, Cunningham kept busy with her wedding videography business, Skylar Cunningham Videography. However, COVID-19 made it difficult for events to continue happening safely.

“I couldn’t film weddings because of COVID-19. I had a gap of creativity and needed something to do,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham officially launched the SkylarGraceCo website in June 2020 with T-shirts, stickers, crewneck sweatshirts, and several other products she designed herself.

“It was something I wanted personally. I really like layering and wearing big graphic tees, and it’s fun to wear a statement on you,” Cunningham said. “I can create whatever I want and make it into something people wear or use. The options are endless, which is so cool.”

Skylar Cunningham sits in a green chair while holding packages of her stickers.

As a journalism and communication major with concentrations in public relations and digital cinema, Cunningham has learned about digital content creation, which has helped her social media presence grow.

“As I’m getting older and taking more classes at Wartburg, I’m dipping more into the realm of public relations. I took COM 346 (Organizational & Public Relations Writing Techniques) with Dr. Pier, which helped me expand my social media planning and content creation. My first passion was film and digital cinema, but it’s really cool to get into the bigger PR classes and learn about marketing and business,” Cunningham said. “(I have help with) behind-the-scenes business stuff, but all the social media and photography stuff were things I created. Everything you see is organic content.”

Being a business owner, full-time student, and musician and student-athlete at Wartburg keeps Cunningham busy, but she has found a way to balance her commitments.

“I stopped giving myself unrealistic deadlines and expectations. Obviously, I have to prioritize classes and my extracurricular commitments, but it’ll be okay. The pace is different during the summer. Keep acknowledging that, tell yourself it’s fine and go with the flow,” Cunningham said.

Looking ahead to the future of business, Cunningham hopes to continue creating for SkylarGraceCo.

“I don’t think I’ll ever do just one thing full time. I can see myself doing this business close to full time and maybe doing weddings here and there. I can also see myself doing more content creation for businesses. I think I’ll be doing other things like film and marketing, or maybe starting other businesses, but I do know I want SkylarGraceCo to stick around,” Cunningham said.