Creating a Dorm-Room Business
Alinda Saintval ’19 is a zoology and visual arts studies major, who has parlayed her passion and talent for art into an enterprise painting personalized backpacks.
How did the backpack business begin?
Completely by accident. I was new to campus, didn’t know anybody, and wanted a way to express myself. I will paint anything. I painted an empty iced-tea can for fun and looked at my backpack and thought, why not? My cousin’s girlfriend saw my backpack and asked if I would make her one too. Another friend convinced me to post my work on social media. I never thought it would go anywhere, then suddenly I had 10,000 likes, 1,000 shares, and requests from other people for bags of their own.
Do you stick to one theme, or will you paint a customer’s request?
Most of my art has an African American theme to it because that’s what I’m interested in, but I will paint whatever inspires me at the moment. I do commissions of all kinds, as long as I know exactly what the customer has in mind.
Why do your backpacks resonate with your customers?
People are drawn to backpacks because they’re a portable means of expression. You’re not going to carry a framed painting around, but you can take your backpack anywhere and make a statement. I’ve been told that my work is inspiring, or helpful. It makes people feel better and gives them a push to do something of their own. Thanks to this feedback, I named my line “duende,” which means, “the ability to deeply move a person through art.”
Will you grow this business when you graduate?
I’m reluctant to call this a business. It’s more of a paid hobby. My intention after graduation is to enter the zoology program at Santa Fe college, which has a teaching zoo. I will get hands-on work with animals.
What will you take forward?
If there’s one piece of advice I would give another student, or could go back in time and tell myself, it’s to take the chance. Yes, something you try might not work out. But then again, it might. I’ve learned that that’s the beauty of it all.