Students support small businesses at Northeastern’s Valentine’s Day Market


Northeastern students visited the tents at Robinson Quad Feb. 11 for the annual Valentine’s Day Market. Many local businesses, many of which are run by Northeastern students and alumni, were set up for students to buy from. Photo courtesy of Alexa Grayson.

Alexa Grayson, news correspondent

Northeastern students packed the tents at Robinson Quad Feb. 11 to fill their hearts and dorms with an array of items sold by small businesses, many of them founded by students and alumni, at Northeastern’s Valentine’s Day Market. 

The market, which lasted from 1-5 p.m., hosted a variety of vendors selling everything from hand-crafted jewelry to self-care kits to one-of-a-kind baked goods. 

Love in the form of hand-crafted jewelry and accessories drew a large crowd at the market, including Studio Saya — a Filipino-American-owned business founded and run by Mia Narciso, a 2021 Northeastern graduate. Studio Saya takes online orders from a link on Instagram

“Saya means happy in Tagalog … So I just wanted to make fun, bright pieces that bring people happiness,” Narciso said. “I’ve always liked making things. My mom growing up taught me how to make jewelry. It’s always been a dream of mine to have an Etsy, or a small craft business, and I was able to do that this past year.” 

For tasty treats, attendees headed over to the table with Sweet Piglet Bakery + Cafe — an Asian and women-owned bakery located in Randolph, Massachusetts. Founded and operated by Meghan Phan, a fourth-year philosophy student, and her mother Armanda, the bakery sells a variety of Asian-inspired treats, including lychee crepe cakes, ube cheesecakes, pandan creme brulee and bubble tea, as well as savory foods like smoked salmon sandwiches.

BGM Apparel features Northeastern alum Jae’da Turner’s original designs on a variety of products, including journals and bookmarks. Photo courtesy of Alexa Grayson.

For empowering apparel, stationary, notebooks, bookmarks, stickers, headwear and more, attendees visited BGM Apparel, which was founded by Jae’da Turner, who graduated from D’Amore McKim School of Business in 2016. Turner’s hobby of using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator turned into a lifestyle brand with the empowering message of “presence and purpose.”

“I started while I was in grad school here — really kind of just a space for self-expression,” Turner said. “Then also kind of like [flexing] new, creative skills and tools and different things in design, and has since expanded … I would say the crewnecks are definitely my favorite.”

Mallory Gothelf, a Northeastern alum, offered carefully curated “Find Your/self Boxes,” designed to promote wellness. Photo courtesy of Alexa Grayson.

Students also found themselves purchasing “Find Your/self Boxes” — curated and customized research-backed boxes filled with wellness products that promote healing and foster relationships between people facing mental health challenges and their loved ones. 

A 2019 College of Science alum, Mallory Gothelf founded the company to give people a tangible way to express support for one another. Their boxes include products ranging from lotions, a “badass button,” kosher honey lollipops, pain relief salves for joint and muscle relief and lavender chamomile from Asheville Tea Company, amongst many more relaxing products. 

“I wanted to create a physical way for people to say, I’m thinking about you, you matter, and I’m here to support you,” Gothelf said. “And couple that with products that would help people and empower them in their self-care journey and their healing journey.” 

Many people also practice self-care by caring for plants, which attendees of the Market could find at the Emerald City Plant Shop vendor. The first Black-owned plant shop in Boston — founded by Quontay Turner, an alum of Worcester Polytechnic Institute — has an array of “green babies” to satisfy both avid plant parents and newcomers. 

The plant shop goes beyond just selling plants but also sells pins labeled “Plant Parenthood,” a shirt that says, “Support Your Local Plant Dealer” and a crewneck sweater labeled “Mother of Plants.”

“I opened up Emerald City Plant Shop, which is New England’s first Black-owned plant shop, last May,” Turner said. “Now I’m kind of running it and growing it. So we have our flagship store in Norwood, and hopefully have more locations soon.” 

There were also many vendors specifically focused on sustainability, including Kaolin Beauty, which is a “mission-driven, ethical, non-toxic, zero-waste makeup company that strives for both spiritual and environmental excellence.” Founded and operated by Michelle Beaudette, a fourth-year business administration major, this skincare company sells an array of products from their gold cup highlighter to the Rose aloe Purifying Clay mask. 

“I essentially started it because I saw a major problem with plastic pollution in the cosmetics industry. I wanted to create a sustainable solution that aligns with all my values,” Beaudette said. “Each product is made with non-toxic ingredients and are sourced ethically… and packaged with completely zero waste.” 

At third-year Northeastern student Rachel Domb’s table, students could shop a selection of plant-based snacks offered by her company, Rooted Living. Photo courtesy of Alexa Grayson.

Rooted Living is also a student-owned company with a huge focus on sustainability. Founded by Rachel Domb, a third-year psychology major, Rooted Living is an eco-friendly plant-based snack company that uses compostable packaging instead of single-use plastic and sells nutritious snacks that have no refined ingredients. Some of their products include peanut butter crunch granola and maple almond granola. 

“They are both good for you and good for the planet,” Domb said. “I was an athlete in high school, so I snacked a lot, but was frustrated by the lack of something that was both healthy and sustainable. I noticed this huge gap in the market that nobody was solving … and then came Rooted Living.” 

In the arena of sustainability, the Market also featured Loch Tree, an eco-friendly store, founded by 2020 alum Henry Turner. This company focuses on a “fresh approach to sustainability,” creating accessibility for consumers to purchase great eco-friendly products. Their products range from zero-waste deodorants, coffee filters, shampoo and conditioner bars, sunscreen and more. 

“We go out and source and identify the best eco-friendly products for your home and life and bring them together in one convenient place,” Turner said. 

Another company that emphasizes convenience is Suite Bella, a team of three makeup artists co-founded by 2021 Northeastern alum Yari DeJesus, along with her childhood friends Gina Montes De Oca and Jackie Merino. The three provide on-demand makeup services and workshops to women living in Massachusetts. Their expertise ranges from makeup for “photoshoots, formal events, bridal, fashion shows, special effects, makeup classes or just a girl’s night out.”

“We started in 2013, basically just had a passion for doing makeup and for the arts,” DeJesus said. “We wanted to express our love for art by delivering makeup to people.” 

Students filled up the two tents at Robinson Quad to look for gifts for their loved ones and support small businesses. 

“I just wanted to walk around the shop and see what great businesses Northeastern students are making and maybe buy some stuff for friends or family,” said Jason Kobrin, a second-year mechanical engineering major who attended the market. “It’s all just really cool to know that like students who graduate from here or are still here are going on and doing cool things.”