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Student's gift basket business gets boost

By REBECCA BERDAR Daily News Staff Writer

A Juniata College sophomore who has established a successful gift basket business is the first young entrepreneur to receive funds through the college’s seed capital program.

Amy Albrecht is the first in a new generation of students whose business ideas may be boosted by a $5,000 grant from the college. A check presentation and formal announcement of Albrecht’s honor was made Feb. 16 in the offices of the Sill Business Incubator, where the New Jersey native currently assembles her wares.

John Hille, executive vice president of the Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (JCEL), said the seed capital grant “represents belief and trust in Amy” and in her business, Amy’s Creative Touch LLC. The grant also represents a unique opportunity for Juniata students and few institutions have such programs to help fledgling, student-run businesses survive the early years of operation.

“Somebody has to be number one,” said Hille on the college first seed capital recipient, adding that Albrecht provided the incubator’s staff with valuable experience. “We now know what it’s like to help support a business.”

In addition to staff and mentors through the incubator, Albrecht has been assisted in her endeavor by friend and her parents, Nevin and Pauline Albrecht.

Nevin Albrecht said his daughter has always been a high achiever and that while he was a little surprised at her decision to start a business from the ground up while still in college, he isn’t surprised at her success.

“She’s just terrific all around,, “ said Mr. Albrecht of his daughter-Girl Scout, high school valedictorian and, now,  businesswoman. “The word ‘proud’ does not quite say what I feel about Amy.”

Miss Albrecht’s achievements have not only been a source of pride for her dad and mom, but a source of inspiration for fellow students who have dreams and ideas of their own.

“My hat goes off to Amy, “said 20-year-old Demetri Patitsis, Huntingdon native and Juniata sophomore like Albrecht. “I’m hoping to follow in her steps.” And, it appears he has. It was announced Friday that Patitsis’ business idea has been approved for seed capital funding. The young man’s idea: an ice cream truck.

“It’s tradition, old-fashioned service for Huntingdon,” Patitsis said. The borough used to have an ice cream truck that cruised about looking for folks in need of a cool treat fix; but Patitsis’ generation missed out on the small town icon. He now wants to fill the gap and hoped Juniata can help.
Albrecht’s idea was inspired by a gift basket received from her parents when she arrived at Juniata College. Her selection includes welcome baskets for students arriving on campus, as well as baskets with holiday themes. Albrecht has also created baskets for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and new babies. Additionally, she offers a garnet basket which includes jams, truffles, biscotti and other fine delectables.

Albrecht’s business experience has given her knowledge worth sharing with her follow young business minds at Juniata College.

“Don’t be disappointed if your first idea doesn’t work,” Albrecht advises. She also suggests looking into different funding programs and “ask for help-everyone is very, very supportive, especially at JCEL.”
She continued that operating one’s own business is an educational experience in itself and that she had been able to strengthen her money and organizational skills, along with learning how to price and ship her products.

She also learned how to be a shrewd buyer when on the hunt for quality products with which to fill her gift baskets.

“I always have to plan ahead,” she said on balancing her time between classroom, study lounge and business incubator. “I do it all in gradual steps.” Albrecht’s program of emphasis at Juniata is psychology and business. She is also a campus scout leader.