By Harrison Wall, PRTM Communications Intern
Ellerslie McCue is a senior Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management major with an emphasis in travel and tourism at Clemson University. She also runs her own leather business, Highway Sailor, where she makes hair-on cowhide, leather and tooled bags, totes, coozies and other products.
Ellerslie has a true passion for her business that can be seen through her entrepreneurial skills and current role as a student. Ellerslie answered a few questions for us about her inspiration to start the business and how her time management skills help her juggle being both a student and a small business owner.
What made you begin your business?
I created this business by the best kind of accident. I kept falling in love with beautiful tooled and cowhide bags I saw on Instagram, only to realize I couldn’t afford them. I finally decided if they could make them so could I. I set out to teach myself how to tool leather, construct patterns and sew with absolutely no background. I talked my dad into taking a little class to learn the basics of tooling, bought my tools, started hammering and have been making products ever since. My business Highway Sailor has continued to grow and expand as I dream up new things to make.
How are you able to balance running a business and your learning?
Running a business while being a full time student is a huge juggling act that I am still perfecting. I thrive on being busy and I love to work, so this lifestyle works for me, but it is not without its struggles. Time management plays a huge role in being able to do both.
I try to set aside days where I focus on just school and get all my assignments done for the upcoming weeks allowing me to focus on my business. This approach works well for weeks where the business needs to be a priority. Other weeks where I am swamped with school I let the business be on the back burner. A lot of it comes down to prioritizing what is important in the specific moment when it comes to school, the business, a social life, friends and sleep.
Are you applying any of your travel and tourism training to your business?
YES! For starters there is a lot of planning, understanding target markets, and consumer behavior that plays a large role in the success of a business, regardless of if the consumer is deciding where to travel or what to buy. We learn a lot about this in the tourism classes and it has given me a lot to think about and act upon when it comes to my business.
In addition, I attend a fair amount of shows to sell my products, which directly relates to the topics covered in the event management classes I have taken. As a travel and tourism major we are also required to take a business law class, which I think is helpful regardless if you have a business or not, but we are constantly learning about topics that I encounter daily in my business.