A Modern-Day Renaissance Woman
PROVO, Utah – Jan 14, 2020 – BYU Marriott entrepreneurship student Taimi Kennerley can bake your wedding cake, style your hair, and then look through your financial projections and teach you how to start a successful business.
“In my opinion, specialization is dying,” says Kennerley. “But the ability to adapt, learn, and figure out something new will always be incredibly valuable.” Kennerley has used this philosophy to develop herself into what she calls “a Renaissance woman”— a self-sufficient person with a diverse skillset.
Kennerley’s love of entrepreneurship began as a student at BYU–Hawaii. “I did nonprofit work to decrease child slavery in the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire by making business models to make the cacao industry there more efficient,” she says. “That experience made me realize that I wanted to study entrepreneurship.”
After this meaningful experience with social entrepreneurship, Kennerley began her search for the best entrepreneurship program. “I was looking through the top entrepreneurship programs, and BYU was always near the top, plus it was the most affordable, so I decided I had to apply,” Kennerley says.
Despite previously moving to Orem as a teen, the initial move from the warm beaches of Hawaii back to the cold winters of Utah was shocking for Kennerley, who was born in New Zealand. However, once she made it into the entrepreneurship program at BYU Marriott, she had no regrets, saying she found her place with the students and faculty in the program.
“People at BYU Marriott are so willing to help,” says Kennerley. “Every step of the way—our professors, mentors, the different centers, all the way up to Dean Madrian—connected us with people who can help us succeed.”
Kennerley and two other entrepreneurship seniors, Zoia Ali of Southlake, Texas, and Abby Warner of Holladay, Utah, recently started a company based in a group project they were assigned in an innovations class. “Out of the six girls in the entrepreneurship program, three of us were randomly assigned to do a group project,” says Kennerley. “So we said, why don’t we do something for women? Why don’t we do something with periods?”
In that class, the three students founded Girls Co., which markets a wearable, heated belt designed to help alleviate menstrual cramps. Kennerley says she and the other founders are “all-in” on Girls Co., which won first place and took home $40,000 at the International Business Model Competition in 2019. “Our goal after graduation is to not have to get a job,” she says. “Our goal is the opposite of most graduates in that way. We want to reach a point with our sales that we can create our own jobs and work for ourselves.”
Through starting Girls Co., Kennerley and the other founders have had the opportunity to mentor other BYU Marriott students looking to start their own successful businesses.
“Being asked by our mentors to help other students has been rewarding,” says Kennerley. “I’m not smarter than other students by any means, but I’ve made plenty of mistakes and can help them avoid making those mistakes.”
The key to starting a successful business is working hard and taking advantage of all the opportunities around you, says Kennerley. “Work twice, three times as hard as you think you should be, and take advantage of all the opportunities offered to you, and do not be afraid to ask for more opportunities,” she says. “A lot of people think they have to work everything out on their own. Why spend hours trying to figure out a problem when a couple floors up there’s a professor who can tell you exactly how to fix it?”
Knowing who to talk to has been an incredibly valuable tool in growing her business and succeeding in school, says Kennerley. “The connections I’ve made and the mistakes I haven’t made are why I’m here at BYU Marriott,” she says. “If I hadn’t come to the entrepreneurship program, I probably would have spent thousands of dollars on mistakes. Instead, I’m investing them in my education and avoiding that by going through the program.”
Kennerley will graduate from BYU Marriott in April 2020 and plans to continue becoming a capable Renaissance woman by making mistakes, adapting, and growing Girls Co. together with the other founders.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Anne Wallace