North Central College - Naperville, IL

Millennial Entrepreneurs: Catherine Borzym ’11

A flair for design and business preparation as an undergraduate continue to inspire growth of the Kiwi Avenue jewelry business that Catherine Borzym ’11 started as a North Central student.

“I first began designing customized jewelry in high school for my friends going to prom,” says Borzym, who majored in marketing and entrepreneurship and small business management. “In 2008, my sophomore year at North Central, I incorporated my business.”

Borzym has built her business through home parties, boutiques, art fairs, festivals, online sales through the website and her website (which includes a lifestyle blog co-authored by six North Central alumni). In July, a sales representative presented several of her collections at a wholesale show at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Her newest collections are Forever Yours Birthstone, Love Letters Monogram and a bridal line, Key to My Heart. Her Kiwi Avenue brand logo reflects her love of the color kiwi green, and you’ll never see her without a green fashion accessory, nail polish or clothing. “I like the combination of black, white and kiwi green and my brother drew my logo of the kiwi bird.”

Borzym never doubted that her career would involve designing and marketing unique jewelry pieces. During her undergraduate years, she took art and interactive media studies classes and gained input from her professors. Students of Mary Galvan, associate professor of marketing, conducted research with boutique owners and gift shops about preferred price points and trade shows. Borzym also participated in the annual Self-Employment in the Arts Conference and gained help from Gary Ernst, professor of international business and marketing emeritus, who connected her with a Naperville retailer that marketed her pieces.

In fall, Borzym will be collaborating with the students of Brian Hanlon, Coleman Foundation Professor of Entrepreneurship, on a campaign with the goal of attracting investment dollars in exchange for product. Using so-called “crowdfunding” platforms is a relatively new method for entrepreneurs to gain support for their ideas, rather than using traditional financing.

“I’m always learning new ways of doing things—figuring out new social media opportunities, learning from webinars and attending conferences,” Borzym says. “And I love being able to create something that doesn’t have to be ‘approved’ and being flexible and responsive to my customers.”