Mihaylo Management Alumna Breanna Sewell ’14 has founded TOP Shop – The Only Print Shop in Desert Hot Springs, Calif. Active in a number of community organizations, Sewell was honored as the Desert Hot Springs Business Person of the Year in 2015 and her business was named 2015 Small Business of the Year. Sewell discusses her business, academic journey and community involvement.
Breanna Sewell ’14 was a CSUF psychology major as a freshman in 2009. “I quickly realized that was not a good fit for me,” she recalls. “My very first business class in spring 2010 was a 7 a.m. business law class-this was not a great way to begin. When I started taking classes in management, entrepreneurship and marketing, I knew I would be happy for the rest of my life.”
Sewell developed the model for her business, TOP Shop – The Only Print Shop, in BUAD 410 – Starting and Managing a Professional Practice/Small Business with Mihaylo Management Lecturer Jeffrey Longshaw. “I was part of the very first BUAD 410 class he and John Bradley Jackson taught together,” she says. “Collaborating with three peers, we developed the final business plan that I still use today.”
After graduation in May 2014, Sewell moved with her husband, Ivan Sewell ’10, to his hometown, Desert Hot Springs, a city of over 25,000 in the northwest corner of Southern California’s Coachella Valley nearly 100 miles east of Orange County.
“We brought our business plan with us,” she says. “Since becoming full-time residents in January 2015, we have moved in to a large office space, tripled in size and have goals to hire our first employee within the next year.”
Sewell’s print shop has managed to not only survive, but thrive, despite a difficult economic environment for the industry. “The competition is out there, and it is quickly increasing,” she says. “Reasons range from home printers producing higher quality prints and becoming more affordable, to template options on online stores.”
Yet she is optimistic about the continued success of her enterprise. “We stand on an idea- an idea that we are TOP Shop- The Only Print Shop you will ever need,” she says. “We offer graphic design services, printed marketing materials, custom packaging and complete corporate identity packages. Our customer service is always above and beyond. We truly care about our customers’ well-being and business success. The opportunity is building the relationships with companies both large and small, through one-stop marketing.”
The shop assists clients from throughout the United States and even one from Australia with logos, branding, marketing campaigns, business cards, brochures, banners, letterhead, envelopes, labels, boxes and pouches. “If your project is printed, TOP Shop can help you,” she says.
A Commitment to the Community
Sewell has prioritized community involvement in her business model. “Upon moving to a new area, I knew networking would be important,” she says. “My husband and I joined the local Desert Hot Springs Rotary club, TOP Shop joined the Desert Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, I joined the Desert Hot Springs Women’s Club and we volunteer with a few other local non-profit organizations. We are also members of the La Quinta and Palm Springs chambers of commerce.”
Sewell’s 2015 recognition by the Desert Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce as Best Business Person of the Year was based on demonstrating effective business leadership, significant community contribution and insight, attempts at new and innovative solutions and activity in the chamber and other local civic organizations. Her 2015 Small Business of the Year Award was based on innovation and involvement in the chamber and other civic organizations. She has also received the Best “New” Rotarian and Service with Passion awards from Rotary District 5330, Past District Governor and a Service with Passion award. “This has been a great year,” she says.
Sewell recommends the Coachella Valley for others interested in entrepreneurship. “Homes are still affordable and rising in value. Businesses are easy to start. Commercial space is affordable, although there is competition-it is more limited than Orange County or LA,” she says. “The opportunities are endless out here and the communities are starving for innovative business models.”
The Mihaylo College Experience
Looking back at her college days, Sewell credits her courses and club involvement with much of her success. “Many of the classes I took in Mihaylo focused on how to solve problems, which is helpful every day,” she says. “Some of the best things I learned were time management, team work and patience.”
“During my junior and senior year of college, I was also involved with the Entrepreneur Society on campus, it was a great way to discuss ideas with like-minded individuals. We had great guest speakers that were honest with their life events in business and personal lives. We organized fundraisers and a business showcase.”
For more on opportunities for entrepreneurial students, including courses, networking opportunities and startup advice, visit the Center for Entrepreneurship online or at SGMH 3280.