As Safiyyah Witherspoon '25 spends the summer preparing to be a freshman at Chestnut Hill College, she is also celebrating her first year as a small business owner.
Witherspoon launched Feegenics, a vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic line, in June 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and right as she completed her junior year of high school at Archbishop Wood Catholic High School in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
“I was a little unsure of opening a business during the pandemic, but with everyone indoors and on their phones or online, it was the perfect time to start an online business,” said Witherspoon. “I had always planned to start my own business by the age of 25, but I took a step back, consulted with family and friends, and I saw that this was something I could do right now.”
Entrepreneurship has always been a part of Witherspoon’s life; her grandparents own a catering company and event space and her father started several businesses of his own. In second grade, she announced that she wanted to be CEO someday, and days before the pandemic shut down the state, she hosted a pop-up fair for small businesses in the area.
“It was really cool to see how the community came out to support small business owners and purchase their items, even in a snowstorm,” said Witherspoon of the March event. “Seeing the business owners stand behind their tables and sell out of their products was exciting for me, especially because I was a part of making it happen.”
Encouraged by her uncanny entrepreneurial spirit and the extra time provided by the pandemic, she decided to pursue her newfound passion of beauty and makeup full time. With money that she had saved from part-time jobs, Witherspoon created a plan for her own cosmetics line – Feegenics – which would feature lipsticks, lip glosses, and customized beauty accessories. She quickly learned how to build her own e-commerce website, create an online presence for the brand, and take professional product photos to support the June 15th launch date.
Within four days of opening her online shop, she sold out.
“I knew that I had done a lot of work promoting the store and I had also asked family and friends to help and spread the word, but I did not expect for it to go viral and to sell out of products so soon,” said Witherspoon.
While the experience was exciting, she knew that owning a business wouldn’t be as easy. As her business continued to gain popularity, Witherspoon would spend her nights managing inventory, packaging products, creating content for social media, and fixing bugs on the website, all while beginning her senior year of high school.
“It was hard being a small business owner and a student,” said Witherspoon. “I was lucky in that I had family who was willing to help me with packaging and shipping, but who also provided me with a tremendous amount of support to keep going.”
Witherspoon hopes to continue Feegenics as a Griffin but is also looking forward to learning more as an incoming business major. Before arriving on campus, Witherspoon has already had the opportunity to connect with professors within the College’s business department and has plans to join the student business club and to create another pop-up fair on campus.
“I’ve always known that college would be the next step in my growth as a business owner, so I wanted to be somewhere that would welcome and support me as an entrepreneur,” said Witherspoon. “In choosing to attend Chestnut Hill College, I know that I’ll be able to continue my dreams with help from the campus community.”
You can support Feegenics by following @shopfeegenics on Instagram.
- Samantha Byles