Laura Vargo, freshman management major, came to the College this year with more than just a high school diploma; she came with firsthand business experience.
Vargo started her own business, Classic Holiday Traditions, her junior year of high school.
For her business venture, described as Mrs. Fields meets Hallmark, Vargo decorated and sold baked goods and candies such as sugar cookies and chocolate-covered marshmallows.
Before enrolling at the College, Vargo’s reputation for baking earned her the nickname “Martha Stwart” among some students.
“The girls in my sister’s sorority, Theta Phi Alpha, called me Martha because when I went to visit her (at the College) I would always bring treats for her and her friends,” Vargo said.
Although she was generous enough to give her sister baked goods, she sold them for profit in her hometown of Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., although mainly to friends and family.
However, she did expand her clientele to include participants of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer after her aunt, who was diagnosed with cancer, began to participate in the event.
Vargo donated more than 200 pink ribbon cookies, some of which her aunt sold to raise money, giving the rest to the walkers. She said she plans to continue baking for the fundraiser, and this upcoming walk will be her third year donating.
Vargo admits it is difficult to maintain her business while she is away at school, but she continues to bake and donate when she returns home on weekends.
Most recently, she made pink ribbon cookies and chocolate-covered marshmallows to raise money for Gilda’s Club, a cancer support group, at a Woman’s Health Expo Fair.
Vargo’s business began after much encouragement and help from her mother.
“I knew it would be a wonderful experience to do something not a lot of people could say they have ever done,” she said. “I wanted to see how successful it could be and I thought it would be an awesome thing if I can say I started my own business when I was only 16.”
During high school, Vargo encountered difficulties balancing schoolwork, extracurricular activities and Classic Holiday Traditions.
On the other hand, classes also helped Vargo with her business.
“Last year, as a senior in high school, I took an entrepreneurship class,” Vargo said. “The business helped me tie together concepts and ideas from the course and made the class even more interesting … I learned different strategies and ideas to help me with the business.”
Classic Holiday Traditions has also led to opportunities at the College. Vargo was featured in the “Class of 2012 profile” on the College’s Web site which, consequently, has given her the chance to meet new people.
“Many people have recognized me from the video on the homepage,” Vargo said. “All of my professors were excited to have a ‘celebrity’ in the class, and all of my floormates were pleasantly surprised.”