Student Small Business Spotlight: Cayleigh’s Creations

Sophomore Cayleigh Nelson takes off with her small business, specializing in custom trucker hats and bracelets. Grace Fortier | Photographer

By Lauren Holcomb | Reporter

What do you do when you want to add the perfect accessory to your outfit, but you can’t find it anywhere outside your own imagination? For Raleigh, N.C., sophomore Cayleigh Nelson, the answer is making it herself, then cultivating a small business out of it.

Cayleigh’s Creations, run solely by Nelson, began in September 2021. Wanting a solution to her hair troubles and an innovative way to proclaim her faith, Nelson created her first item — the bible verse trucker hat — because she couldn’t find one anywhere else.

“There was a hole in the market, I was like, well, I could do this because my minor is entrepreneurship,” Nelson said. “I always started businesses when I was younger, like selling lemonade or duct tape wallets or literally anything under the sun. So, I just ordered the supplies and a few patches and I posted about it on my Instagram, and some friends said they wanted them.”

As an apparel merchandising major with a minor in entrepreneurship, creating her own small business was the perfect next step toward Nelson’s goals. Growing up, Nelson ran her own fashion blog, allowing her to communicate and work with clothing companies at a young age. Her goal has always been to jumpstart her own clothing company, so Cayleigh’s Creations has been a gateway into the fashion business, Nelson said.

“I feel like the trucker hat has allowed me to just get more experience with customer service and how to mail things out in a timely manner, how to create your thing and how to have a social media presence,” Nelson said.

Social media quickly rose as a key tool in the marketing of Cayleigh’s Creations. Sites like TikTok can give its users a large audience rapidly, making advertising her hats quick and easy for Nelson. Not only can she reach Baylor students with these platforms, but she has already shipped to customers in 20 different states, thanks to her already keen social media abilities.

“I’ve always loved social media. If you follow my Instagram, I just spam it all the time. I’m always taking pictures of the people I’m with, and I just love that. And so, it was kind of the same thing with the Cayleigh’s Creations Instagram,” Nelson said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my friend just bought a hat. Let me take a cute little picture of you, and I’ll post it.’ So, it never felt like, ‘Oh, I need to get a photo up today.’ It was like, ‘Oh, let me just post it.’ And so that’s been really nice that it’s been more natural.”

Along with the joys of starting a small business, Nelson said she did understandably struggle a bit with time management. Juggling sorority life, living in her own home for the first time, serving on the Student Senate and being a full-time student all while kickstarting her business was a lot harder than she anticipated.

“It was a really natural start, it was just harder than I anticipated,” Nelson said. “I wouldn’t change it. I grew a lot through last semester, and it was really cool to experience hard things and to now see what I’ve learned and how it’s going this semester.”

A longtime friend, student at the University of Mississippi and now customer of Nelson’s, Virginia Perret, said she immediately wanted to show her support when the business began. She said Nelson’s “joy radiates through her products,” and her new favorite hat is a way to share the good news to college students.

“I wanted the hat to be a conversation starter and a way to disciple to people,” Perret said. “I actually had someone ask about my hat just the other day and they said they had been following Cayleigh for years, and I thought that was so cool that her influence has reached all the way to Ole Miss.”

Nelson said clothing is an easy way to start discussions, and her pieces do just the trick. She has added custom colorful bracelets to her lineup, and the original trucker hats now offer sorority letter patches, with the classic bible verse patches still available.

Center sophomore Caroline Scull purchased a Kappa Alpha Theta hat to show off her love for her sorority and support Nelson.

“Each item Cayleigh sells is made with the intention of making someone’s day, which is Cayleigh’s main goal every time I see her,” Scull said. “If I were to recommend any small business, it would be this one, as I have personally seen, experienced and loved the work, products and intentions behind Cayleigh’s Creations.”

With bright plans to expand into more pop-up shops with other local small businesses and hopefully make appearances at some coffee shops, Nelson is optimistic for the future of the business.

“I think the world of fashion needs so much help and just needs so much change with the way girls view their bodies,” Nelson said. “Sharing the Lord’s love through clothing has always been a dream of mine, and so getting to do that in a small way of trucker hats has been probably the coolest part.”