Home Feature Montclair State Alumni Establishing Entrepreneurial Careers

Montclair State Alumni Establishing Entrepreneurial Careers

by Amaya Graham

Some Montclair State University alumni have taken what they learned in college and applied it to their careers, creating brands they plan to expand upon.

Junior A. Morel, an alumnus who graduated in 2020 with a degree in television production, created his brand, Morel Publishing, in 2021. Morel Publishing is a multifaceted brand that allows people from different creative backgrounds to express themselves.

“I look at it [as] a house for creators where it’s not unsafe to say how you feel or express it differently, whether it’s art, writing, acting or producing,” Morel said.

Junior A. Morel modeling in his Morel Publishing merchandise.

Junior A. Morel modeling in his Morel Publishing merchandise.
Photo courtesy of Junior A. Morel

Morel’s passion for writing is one reason why he began Morel Publishing.

“During the [coronavirus (COVID-19)] pandemic, it was tough to express my emotions because nobody was really going out or talking to people, so I started writing,” Morel said. “I do it all the time now.”

Although Morel realized the influence that his writing has during the pandemic, he also enjoyed writing while attending Montclair State. He credits a creative writing class he took during his junior year for helping him to improve his writing skills and enhance his brand.

“[My creative writing professor] would give us topics here and there but he would allow us to come up with the actual story,” Morel said. “I feel like I use that every day when I [want to] write something.”

Although Morel Publishing is currently a side hustle for Morel, he plans to expand upon it through film production.

“One of the big ideas I have for this summer is to have a big film, a short film,” Morel said. “That’s definitely the next big step for the brand. It’s not something that’s been done before in the brand.”

Another student who began her journey in entrepreneurship after graduating from Montclair State is 2020 alumna, Sharese “Shay” Sumter. While at Montclair State, she majored in sociology and minored in journalism.

Sumter created her podcast, titled “Young, Boujie and Black”, in August 2020 with her “long-distance best friend” and cohost, Nomblé J. Tanner. The podcast focuses on topics such as relationships, spirituality and sexuality.

Sumter explains how she and Tanner met while attending Montclair State.

“I was an orientation peer leader the summer [after] my freshman year and she was actually in one of my orientation groups,”Sumter said.

Sharese “Shay” Sumter visiting Montclair State.

Sharese “Shay” Sumter visiting Montclair State.
Amaya Graham | The Montclarion

Although they were friends while attending Montclair State, they grew closer after Tanner transferred following her freshman year in 2018. Sumter speaks about how distance strengthened their friendship.

“Once [Tanner] moved back to Connecticut, we got closer,” Sumter said. “I just don’t understand how but I literally talk to her every day.”

Tanner spoke about how she and Sumter’s bond influenced them to start a podcast.

“[Shay and I], being long-distance best friends, talked often over FaceTime,” Tanner said. “And we were having so many interesting conversations [and we thought] that maybe other people would find [what we were saying] interesting.”

Sumter uses the marketing skills she gained being on the social media team for The Montclarion to help expand her podcast’s audience. Some skills include using search engine optimization and hashtags.

Sumter spoke about how these skills helped her and Tanner gain traction when starting their podcast.

“I thought we were going to get like five listens,” Sumter said. “I wasn’t expecting a lot when we first started the podcast, but when I saw it was forty, I was like ‘You guys like us?’”

Sumter and Tanner have massive visions for where they see the podcast going. They aspire to grow their audience, begin creating revenue and have a podcast deal.

As people who are working to expand their brands, Morel, Sumter and Tanner have meaningful advice for college students who have similar goals.

Morel stresses the importance of following your dreams.

“Don’t let anything like likes, comments or social media pages influence you to not do what you [want to] do,” Morel said.

Tanner spoke about the importance of strong marketing skills.

“Market to your friends and family but also open your mind to all the possibilities that could occur,” Tanner said.

Sumter advised those who want to enter entrepreneurship to just go for it.

“Whenever you feel like you wanna venture into making a YouTube channel or making your own business, just do it,” Sumter said. “More than likely, everything will work its way out.”

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