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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • Olivia Stepp stands on a green lawn in front of a red and yellow mural which says "Believe in Greenville" North Carolina

Retailing student builds success and her own businesses

Some people do only what’s required of them at work or school. Some might do a little extra. Then there are those like Olivia Stepp who take hustle to a whole different level.

Stepp is majoring in retailing with an emphasis in retail management at the University of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. While the sophomore is a full-time student, she has also made time to build upon her success as a business owner, entrepreneur and experienced professional — which began when she was only seven years old.

“The first thing I did was make bookmarks. I was seven and I would sell them to my mom’s friends for $2. When you’re seven, $2 is a lot of money,” Stepp says. And so an entrepreneur was born. 

Stepp, like many little girls, loved headbands. Unlike most girls, it occurred to her to launch her own fashion blog while in middle school. Soon, the seventh grader had 14,000 followers online and found herself becoming an influencer, though that term had not yet become popular. 

“That really sparked it. I got a lot of free stuff in the mail. Well-known, nice companies would send me stuff. I was still in seventh grade,” she recalls. “My parents were like, ‘What are we supposed to do about that?’” 

What they did was encourage her (while also making sure she was safe), and Stepp’s talent for business and fashion continued to grow. She moved from her North Carolina home to attend college at the University of South Carolina, and when the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily interrupted classes, no one was surprised to see her fill the time with another new business. 

Stepp launched an online store in March 2020, selling custom-decorated clothing and handmade jewelry. She marketed the business via social media, including sending samples to influencers. It succeeded beyond all expectations, producing more than $10,000 in sales in a single month by the end of that year. Stepp eventually closed the store early in 2021 because it had become more than she could handle in addition to school. 

“It was such a crazy time in my life. The money that I made from that really helped for college.” she says. 

Even with that business shuttered, Stepp has hardly slowed down. She is currently interning with Columbia boutique A Little Happy, serving as T-shirt committee chair for her sorority (Phi Mu) and working as UofSC campus impact manager for dating / friendship app Bumble. 

Those roles will be put on hold soon, though, because Stepp was chosen as a merchandising product intern for the PGA Championship and will spend a month in Tulsa for that job. She will complete her sophomore year by taking exams virtually while in Oklahoma, because doing only one thing at a time would just be out of character. 

What does the future hold? Stepp says living and working in New York City has been a dream since childhood, so the road may lead her there after finishing her studies at South Carolina’s Department of Retailing. 

Learn more about the Department of Retailing.

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