Jessica Finch, ’00, says attending Baker University gave her the courage to brainstorm and be open to new ideas when it came to opening her own business, In Bloom.
Located in Louisburg, Kansas, In Bloom is a full-service floral shop specializing in bouquets, weddings, memorials, and special events. “Like everything, the floral world is constantly changing,” Finch said. “Coming up with new promotions and designs and reaching new customers is consistently evolving. I feel Baker gave me the confidence to put myself and my business out there.”
And one of the ways Baker is helping alumni with their own businesses is the development of a new online Alumni Business Directory.
“I think the goal of any business owner is to attract new customers, and the directory is a great way to do that,” Finch said. “I’ve received tons of support from Baker friends. Over the years, I’ve done several weddings and events for BU friends and acquaintances as well as some university special events.”
Director of Alumni Relations Doug Barth, ’91, said the Alumni Office wanted to highlight businesses owned by Baker alumni through the directory with the hopes of driving alumni to want to give back to other Baker alumni.
“We love providing our alumni with a list of companies that are not only Baker-alumni owned, but are also tremendous resources for them within their community,” he said.
Recommend Other Alumni
Even though he majored in music education, Paul Eltschinger, ’13, said his degree still applies to his Lawrence-based business, PaulHaul. The business manufactures and sells the Little Helper Cart and the Big Helper “Henry”—two machines primarily used by arborists and landscapers across the United States and Canada.
“Being a music ed major might not directly sound business related, but understanding different teaching methods and learning styles has helped me with employees and customers alike,” he said. “Everyone learns differently. Ensuring directions are understood and safely executed are imperative to our production.”
Eltschinger said he’s using the new Alumni Business Directory a couple of ways.
“I like being able to recommend other alumni when asked about a service we don’t provide,” he said. “I’m also using the directory to find other local alumni business owners to network with.”
For Susan (Fanning) Davis, ’92, her experiences at Baker laid the groundwork for her to open Davis Financial Planners, a wealth management company in Overland Park, with her husband, Brian Davis, ’91.
“When I went to Baker, I wanted to be either a social worker or a buyer for a company and eventually open my own boutique,” she said. “I studied business and fashion merchandising, which allowed me to learn some great basics and kept my interest in learning. I have always loved to help people, which is why I wanted to be a social worker, and I feel like I do that now, but with clients’ money.”
Davis said Baker’s small size allowed her to get involved on campus and with Greek life, which helped her after graduation.
“One thing that I have noticed about the people at Baker is that they are all top-notch individuals, and most are extremely successful in their careers,” she said. “I love helping people, and hope I have the opportunity to reconnect with Baker grads through the new business directory and help them plan, organize and pass on their wealth. I feel very fortunate to have the option to work with great people.”
No Baker Strangers
Michelle Meyer, ’85, said Baker offered many leadership opportunities and avenues to succeed that helped her open her business, Holy-Field Vineyard and Winery in Basehor, Kansas.
“These experiences directly translate to the confidence one needs to start a business and also the discipline it takes to be self-employed,” she said. “Specifically, my background in communications and business have been instrumental in successfully marketing and managing my business.”
Meyer said she’s naturally drawn to the outdoors and prefers it over being at a desk. “Making wine from our estate-grown grapes is a soil-to-bottle accomplishment. There is something special about the ground-up experience, and guests appreciate the work it takes to make a bottle of wine.”
Baker alumni frequent Holy-Field Vineyard and Winery, and Meyer hopes that continues to grow with the Alumni Business Directory.
“I think the business directory is a great way for the Baker community to connect,” she said. “Baker alums are a diverse group with so much to offer, and we all want to see each other succeed. I often meet guests who are Baker alumni, and it is always fun to share Baker stories. This is the sort of community that makes Baker so special! Once you are a Baker alum, there are no Baker strangers.”
Supporting Our Own
The goal for the directory is to continue to grow the service and at no cost, Barth said. “On a personal level, if I know that I’m helping another Baker alum through purchasing a product or service that they provide, then I’m helping them, but I also feel incredibly good about supporting one of our own.”
View the directory or submit a business at alumni.bakerU.edu/business-directory. If you are a Baker graduate and own your business, you qualify to be in the Alumni Business Directory.
“I would love to see this grow to 50-plus Baker alumni-owned businesses,” Barth said.
Written by Jenalea Myers, ’08