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University senior starts own fashion business

By Svenja van den Woldenberg, Special to The Chronicle

Courtney Hickey, a 21-year-old senior earning a B.B.A. in Marketing and a Minor in Psychology at Hofstra University, has started her own business, Chickey Designs.

"I've always been really fascinated by fashion. When I was younger I would draw different designs for dresses based on some of my favorite designers," said Hickey. She said that her favorite designer at the time was Roberto Cavalli. Hickey explained that her interests gradually moved from fashion design to graphic design by the time she entered high school. "It wasn't until my freshman and sophomore year at Hofstra that I really considered merging these two passions," Hickey said.

First she hand drew all her artwork onto t-shirts—a process that would take her about 10 hours to complete. But when her friends and family began asking if they could have her t-shirts, she realized something had to change. "That's when I began getting my designs screen-printed and the business started," said Hickey.

By the end of 2009 and into early 2010, Hickey said she realized that in order to start her business, she had to legally establish it and get it trademarked.

"Chickey Designs is great for students because it offers a fun, whimsical line of clothing at an affordable price," said Hickey. Hickey added that her products are great gifts for friends and family. The bracelets, for example, are great for both men and women because they come in a variety of colors and sayings.

Chickey Designs reaches roughly a thousand people, mostly through social media. In order to be successful, Hickey explained how brands must push themselves into media like Facebook. "I am very grateful for the exposure social media can offer a young brand," said Hickey.

"I get really inspired by people… For me its about their talents and passion; it doesn't matter the industry. When someone is doing what they love, they are more likely to push the boundaries and create something new and innovative," Hickey said. The list of people that inspire her include Howard Hughes, Alfred Hitchcock, Tim Burton, Charlie Chaplin and Andy Warhol. She also draws her inspiration from the 40s and 50s when Hollywood glamour was at its peak.

She likes that everyday objects can become ultra stylish, like her Telephone Line design as an example. "It wasn't about what the technology could do, rather how the technology's form could fit with the style of the household."

Hickey's first design for her company was the Imagine design. She described it as the silhouette of a little girl holding balloons, one of which is in the shape of a heart. She based the design on her childhood when she would wear fancy dresses with matching straw hats and ribbons. She also had a memory of being given a red heart-shaped balloon at a fair, but it flew away. "Many of my designs are created from a combination of memories, images that grab my attention, and my imagination," Hickey stated.

However, Hickey said that running a company is not easy. Her family and friends are supportive but they do not realize how much time and dedication it takes to have a company. Hickey said that they don't see her doing taxes, taking days or weeks to create new designs or spending hours marketing Chickey Designs on social media and the Internet. "It's a lot of work to be doing outside of college and I don't think people understand that unless they've done it for themselves."

Chickey Designs can be found online at

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