Ollie Bandong (Crochet Business)
What started as a small side hustle to support their brother’s top surgery ended as a local student-run business that caters to all audiences in Boone. Ollie Bandong, gender studies senior, runs a crochet business that sells colorful fruit and vegetable hats, pride keychains, and more.
The Raleigh native first started crocheting senior year of high school and started selling solely to fundraise for their brother’s top surgery during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After he had his surgery, I was taking commissions and just doing it for fun,” Bandong said. They later saw applications for the King Street Market and got accepted to sell which featured their shop every other week for people to buy and view.
“It was a lot of fun… I was crocheting fruit and vegetable bucket hats,” they said.
Bandong, later on, sold their crocheted goods at pop-up shops and farmer markets showing the locals and students a fuzzy side of their business. Bandong’s main purpose is to cater to queer and college-age students, making a variety of products that fit the criteria of their business. Products include little hats for furry friends, fingerless gloves, stuffed donuts, and Valentine’s hearts.
Their memorable favorite features Lily’s Pride Market. The business had a flourishing promotion, advertising their business as possible while meeting different people that had a fun and worthwhile experience. “It felt really great especially when I knew the money was going to a cause I’m passionate about.”
Bandong is finishing up their Bachelor’s degree this spring and hopes to take their business throughout their post-graduate career. Shoppers can find Bandong’s crochet business at Femme Fatales and pop up Student-Made shows, which are at the beginning of every month at CupCrazed on Blowing Rock Rd.
Kyla Starr (Cake/Sweets Business)
Heart-shaped cakes, cookies, and more delicious sweets take over Boone, a local business run by a former App State student. Kyla Starr, a political-science senior, recently opened up a sweets business to get her products out the door. From cupcakes, and macaroons to tarts and mini cakes, Starr offers a wide range of sweets for locals and students to fulfill their sweet tooth.
“I was that kid who got a cake baking class for my birthday when I was 12,” Starr said about how her love for baking was introduced throughout her life. She grew up with her mother baking, loving the decorating side of things and creating flavor profiles. Living in a small dorm room, Starr didn’t have enough space to display her baking skills. When she later moved into her apartment, she immediately started baking for her friends and close coworkers. In December of 2022, she decided to launch her sweets to other people.
“I felt like this was the perfect community for it,” she said.
Starr had her bid debut by selling at the Halloween Show at Ransom and the Christmas Vintage Market Draba hosted the past year. It gave her a big boom of success which presented her with new opportunities to grow her business outreach. Valentine’s day also helped launch her business with 15 orders in four days.
“It was the first time I stepped back and realized I can really do this,” Starr said.
With her business fresh and new, Starr enjoys doing something to work with the person for exactly what they are looking for instead of just making things and hoping that it’s what the customer wants. Her personal favorite is baking cakes because it uses different techniques and allows her to apply them in many different ways.
Starr is currently planning to bake for the upcoming holidays and reaching out to different businesses to potentially get her product in coffee shops or something where she can sell daily. She also is working on building more outreach and making more connections to help build her business more. She’s currently on Instagram and TikTok by her name, 5starr Bake.
“The unity comes together especially when it comes to student-run businesses,” She said.
Starr is graduating this spring with her Bachelors in Political Science, minoring in Public Health.
Gaining Composure (Band)
An early 2000s-inspired local band rocks out in Boone’s local music scene with sounds influenced by Radiohead, Modest Mouse, and Ween. Gaining Composure, the four-member band, started their project about nine months ago showcasing their experimental sound to Boone’s DIY music culture.
The local band consists of Mateo Oropesa, guitarist and singer, Nick Perkins, bass guitarist, Kevin Williams, guitarist, and Brad Hood, drummer. Oropesa and Hood first started as a two-member group since they both lived together in the same apartment, playing a set of guitar and drums. As they kept evolving, the duo met their third member Shea Bruer, who is currently studying abroad, and all three attended local house shows together until Hood came up with an exciting idea.
“We should totally do a band,” Hood chuckled. The three took the idea and turned it into the start of their project, Gaining Composure.
Their musical influences range from the early 2000s emo and rock music scene, making their sound unique and representative of who Gaining Composure is.
“With more freedom, that’s where we can get a little more experimental,” Williams said. The band is working to find their unique sound that they can claim and is currently in the works of releasing a single soon, working with a professional studio that will help them get their foot in the door.
“We’re having fun with what we’re doing and putting our creative spin to it,” Oropesa said. They hope to do a single release show to advertise the band’s first single.
Gaining Composure recollected their favorite performance which was at TappRoom, a packed-out night show in early December performing along with Jamus and Yes Dude. Opresa recalls one of the attendees there asking why the venue was so packed and questioned who the band was. That comment made the entire band feel thrilled since they’ve never seen that many people and react to their opening act. The band played cover hits like Feeling Good by Nina Simone, with Bruer and Opresea singing their hearts out together while Williams took the guitar solo and Hood banging it out on the drums. Throughout the performance, the crowd captures the raw moment and hears the incredible sound of Gaining Composure.
“We’re here to play music how we want to and enjoy it,” Hood said.
Field of Clover (band)
The femme-based band enters the Boone music scene introducing sounds influenced by Alex G, Weyes Blood, and Big Thief in hopes of reaching the coffeehouse vibe around the quaint mountain town.
Field of Clover, the two-member band, features Grace Lawton, senior music industry studies, and Lynda Garcia, junior music industry studies. The local band got their start in early February, making the band a fresh sound in the local music scene. The bandmate’s history goes back from being in the same program and doing projects together including being current members of Femgineers, a group that highlights femme, nonbinary, LGBTQ+, and minorities that are dedicated to creating a safe space in the music industry.
Clovers recently released their first EP “Snowday” which is available on Apple Music, Bandcamp, and Spotify. Garica wrote the lyrics, highlighting her world during the wintertime, specifically learning how to enjoy things alone. Since she and Lawton have worked on music together, Lawton later added her own touch of sound to the single, recording it on Scarlett finishing it that winter night.
“We were on such a high that night,” They both said. “Snowday” captures a soft and ambient sound with vocals that vibrate throughout the demo, with the strums of the guitar and a percussion instrument that perfectly captures of being in the moment of a relaxing snow day in the mountains.
With tremendous support from other local Boone bands, Field of Clover are pressing the gas pedal in terms of their future. They plan to release an EP project featuring four new songs and perform at local spots showcasing their exciting sound.
“If we make someone feel anything it’s a win in our book,” Lynda said.