When the onset of COVID-19 forced students who had been studying abroad to return home to the United States, Samford marketing major Haley Batson, who had been studying in London, took advantage of the time back home to launch a business she had long had a vision for.
In March, Batson, also studying art as a minor, launched her business, Sunshine and Color, through which she sells custom artwork created with watercolor, graphite, acrylic and colored pencils. Most of her work is commissioned by individuals looking for a special piece to remember a loved one or an important life event.
The name Sunshine and Color is a nod to the foundation upon which she built her business. In high school, Batson struggled with an eating disorder which she said impacted her whole life. Through group therapy, she realized she was not alone in her struggle dealing with mental health and body image issues. During her recovery she discovered her passion to show others that they are loved and not alone in this world.
Although Sunshine and Color has long been an idea for Batson, her Samford experience has played an integral role in helping her get her business off the ground.
“I will forever be thankful for World of Business (BUSA 100) during my freshman year,” she said.
Through this entry level class in Brock School of Business, Batson was able to participate in the freshman level of the Regions New Venture Challenge business plan competition. In her group, she held the role of chief marketing officer, which she was able to put to good use.
She added, “Working in a group to create a business taught me how to divide and delegate work, put in effort, listen to one another, and communicate efficiently. In my role, I was able to make use of my artistic skills, creating important marketing factors like the logo and floorplan of our venture. This project fueled my entrepreneurial spirit and taught me the basics of making a business plan and implementing goals and strategies to create a successful business. This experience helped me get Sunshine and Color up and running, and I still use this knowledge as it applies to my life and work every day.”
Sunshine and Color creates each piece with intention to light up someone's world and capture a memory.
“I wanted to form a business built on the foundation that everyone is important and loved and provide a way to bring light into the world. Art creates inspiration, sharing stories provides connection, and colorful and fashionable products elicit positivity, bringing out the best in others, making people feel important,” Batson said.
Batson said a few Samford faculty members have played integral roles in helping her launch Sunshine and Color.
In Brock School of Business, assistant professor of business Larron Harper served as Batson’s first business class professor. She said, “Professor Harper has always been a great supporter of me and my career in the business world. His positivity and feedback gave me strength and assurance to move forward with my studies and business decisions. He introduced me to the world of business and guided our team throughout the business venture project. His comments and coaching helped me see that if you want to succeed, you not only need to provide what is expected, but go above and beyond, diving into what you are passionate about and give it your all. Truly give it your best, whatever cause, project, venture, or dream you have; and just maybe, you may start the path to achieving those goals.”
In the School of the Arts, Batson credited associate professor Stephen Watson and his artistical inspiration. “He enhanced my belief that art has meaning, and it can evoke emotions and thoughts in others. His personal creations exhibit intricate details with much purpose poured into each component of his work. This carried its way into my art and inspired me to create work that makes people think and feel something good, real and important.”
When the fall 2020 semester begins, Batson will be operating her business from campus as well as in her hometown of Franklin, Tennessee. Most of her work is able to be delivered through mail, so she said she is able to fulfill orders wherever her customers are.
While she is still in school, Batson will still dedicate 100% of herself to her studies, while also operating her business. “Sunshine and Color runs on passion, hard work, and the hope to bring a smile to someone’s face which is what keeps me going even when times get tight.”
After Samford, she plans to continue doing this work. “I would love to continue doing work like this after graduating from Samford. I enjoy creating art that inspires and brings joy to others, and it is just plain fun!”
She says that the current layout of Sunshine and Color is not completely what she envisions for the future, but it is a start. In the future, she hopes to be able to provide more options for customers to choose from, ranging anywhere from artwork and prints to books and fashion pieces.
“I have been dreaming of this for a long time, and continue to brainstorm, plan and create every day to achieve these goals,” she closed. “There is so much in store and I am very excited to see where it goes from here!”
See more of Batson's work through her Sunshine and Color page on Instagram: @sunshine_and_color.