Lizzie-O Blackburn ‘22 began selling peaches in the summer about a decade ago. What started as a way to productively pass the time has flourished into a two-location business selling nearly 2,000 pounds of peaches each week.
“We go to South Carolina every Thursday to our wholesaler,” Blackburn explained of the enterprise she shares with her sister. “We rent lots in two different towns, so each Friday we set up a tent in each of the locations and sell until all of our peaches are purchased.”
Entrepreneurism runs in Blackburn’s family. Her parents own their own business and saw produce sales as a way for their daughters to learn more about hard work, customer service, and sales.
“They wanted to instill certain qualities and thought processes in me and my sister, to teach us valuable lessons and grow our interpersonal and sales skills,” said Blackburn. “Years ago, they decided we were going to start selling produce. My mom’s dad used to visit family in South Carolina and come home with peaches to give away, so we kind of based our business around that idea of the neighborhood, friendly business.”
The sisters have a bank account for their business, navigate the lease of their sales lots, take care of required permits, and look for new ways to reach more customers.
“I’m always trying to think of fun ways to improve the business. There’s only so much you can do in the way of evolving the whole operation, but we have evolved with how many peaches we sell,” noted Blackburn. “And there are always ways to connect more to your customers, so I’m always thinking about that.”
Blackburn and her sister split each week’s profits and, in the past, have used the money to buy their own clothes and pay for their own entertainment, to purchase iPads and phones, and even to cover the cost of school trips to South Africa and Greece.
While peaches are solely a summer business, the sisters have also grown and sold their own collards in the winter. Blackburn, who works with COE on campus and is on the volleyball, swimming, and lacrosse teams, hopes her seasonal businesses will continue in the future and she will be able to pass them along to other young entrepreneurs.
“Know your product,” she advises others interested in launching their own businesses. “Know how to sell it. Be prepared to not have as much success as you might initially have thought you would have and learn from what you did wrong. Grow from there. Don’t get discouraged about little things. And definitely be passionate about what you are selling or what you are doing.”