(Posted February 8, 2005)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A Juniata College sophomore who has created a gift basket enterprise is the first student entrepreneur to receive a $5,000 in seed capital from the Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (JCEL).

Amy Albrecht, a sophomore from Belvedere, N.J. studying psychology and business, will receive the grant at a ceremony with JCEL executive vice president John Hille and JCEL director Dr. Michael Lehman at 2 p.m., Wednesday Feb. 16 at the JCEL office on 419 14th St. in Huntingdon.

"When I first met Amy, I was impressed by her creative energy and drive to make things happen, " says Dr. Lehman. "She is using these skills to not only launch her own business, but is helping other students do the same. It is exciting to see more and more creative and innovative students becoming part of our campus community."

Albrecht is the owner of Amy's Creative Touch LLC, a gift basket business that provides customized baskets for college students and corporate clientele. Albrecht, who has been working on her business idea since arriving at Juniata a year ago, has sold 134 baskets since opening for business in October.

"When I was a freshman I received a gift basket from my parents and it had fruit and candy in it, but it seemed like many of the things included in the basket were not quite what college students would use," Albrecht says. "When I came to Juniata, I was very interested in starting a business to help pay for college and this basket idea seemed to be my best one."

Albrecht says her business offers a $25 college basket that uses containers that can be reused in a dorm room and offers utensils and equipment that might appeal to students (as well as snacks suited for midnight studying such as microwave popcorn, granola bars and other edibles).

She also offers gourmet baskets for corporate clients that start at $22 and go up to $125. The corporate baskets also are customized for each client and feature reusable merchandise such as cutting boards, cheese spreaders and mugs that complement the edible snacks and food.

"I've always liked doing things on my own and being my own boss," she says.

The business is currently being operated out of the Sill Business Incubator in the JCEL building. Albrecht will use the $5,000 to buy inventory, pay for services and perhaps hire some help later this year. "I think we stand out from some of the competition because we offer personal service and customized service that can meet the needs of any client," she says.

So far, Albrecht has experienced decisions that are not faced by most college students, For instance, Albrecht has hired an accountant, a lawyer and an insurance agent for her business. She also has used Juniata's varied business courses to expand her business knowledge. Students from her accounting class customized an accounting program for her and she also has taken the first course in the college's Entrepreneurial Laboratory sequence.

She has expanded beyond Juniata customers to several corporate clients, all of whom learned of Albrecht's company through a Juniata alumni news service.

This year, the entrepreneur would like to expand the business to other college campuses in the area and hopes to hire student help. By next year, she would like to have the business stable enough to turn over to a business manager when she studies abroad for a semester this fall. She hasn't decided on a strategy when she graduates in 2007.

"I don't know if I will be running it, but the business will have a home in Huntingdon."

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.