by MATEO GUTIERREZ
The Night Market: A hub for student entrepreneurship and creativity
On Dec. 1, UMW’s Night Market returned to campus to give the community a vibrant and dynamic event that let students stray beyond the boundaries of their traditional education to display and sell their creative works.
The market, initiated in 2022, is an evening spectacle that transforms Chandler Ballroom into a bustling marketplace, illuminated by twinkling lights and creative pieces. There, students took center stage as budding entrepreneurs, transforming their dorm room experiments, artistic endeavors, culinary passions and technological innovations into marketable commodities.
Planned by the Office of Student Activities and Engagement and Andrea McGrath, the night and weekend program assistant in SAE, the event featured 36 vendors.
For a second year in a row, the Night Market offered students a platform to showcase and sell their unique and diverse works. Vendors sold an array of items, such as handmade crafts, artisanal goods, original artwork, homemade treats and sustainable fashion creations.
When asked about the event, Director of SAE Sandrine Sutphin said, “I think it’s a great and really fun opportunity for students to showcase their skills. You know, something like this doesn’t exist elsewhere on campus.”
Learning Beyond the Classroom Walls
The Night Market embodies a combination of innovation, commerce and community, fostering an environment where students have the opportunity to gain entrepreneurial skills within their community, as their sales are primarily to peers and local attendees.
The event also offers a unique learning experience that complements students’ academic pursuits. Participants can acquire essential skills like budgeting, marketing, salesmanship and customer service in a real-world setting, and they learn to navigate challenges, such as customer feedback and adapting to market trends.
Kolby Simpson, a junior business administration major and Night Market attendee, shared his positive remarks about the event, and he also expressed hope for the potential future expansion of the event.
“It was interesting to see the small businesses that other students here at UMW created,” he said. “This is the first student market I’ve been to, and I can’t wait for the next one. Hopefully, they get a bigger venue next time so more students can participate.”
Fostering a Collaborative Community
The Night Market makes space for collaborative efforts to emerge, which could lead to partnerships and the birth of innovative projects that harness the collective talents of diverse individuals. In essence, the event allows vendors to share their innovations and thoughts with the community, especially their academic community. It amplifies the students’ creative skills, providing them with a platform to turn their passions into profitable ventures.
The Night Market also allows students to support each other by buying their fellow Eagles’ works. Situated right before the holidays, this was an opportunity for students to buy gifts while also investing in their classmates’ success.
Fiona Archer, a senior communication and digital studies major said, “Last year I spent an incredible amount of money because there’s something about just wanting to support student artists.”
Whether the vendors are motivated by profit or merely sharing their work, the Night Market offers an opportunity for classmates to support their friends and peers and enjoy their creations.
“It’s a fun environment with lots of different things to look at and there was also really good food. All of the work from the boutiques were really good quality and there was a wide selection of items,” said senior art major Chloe Delone.
Charlie Li contributed to reporting for this article.