Stella Landers, a fourth-year communication and technology management major, began her business, Digitally Stella, during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. After her father and stepmothers’ catering business took a significant hit due to the pandemic, Landers — a lifelong artist — decided to use her time at home to turn her art into stickers that support people in financially challenging situations.
“The pandemic has shined so much light on people and groups and causes that need our help and collective action. That’s been a huge motivator for me,” Landers said.
Landers began selling in Isla Vista on the “Free & For Sale” section of the Facebook Marketplace during January 2021 and donated $1 from each sticker sold to the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation — a nonprofit that supports food service workers. After receiving an influx of sales, Landers started an Etsy page and began branding her company as “Digitally Stella.” Her designs, which center UCSB culture and events, are priced at $4 each. Purchasing all of her stickers grants buyers a 30% off discount.
Landers now donates to a different charity each month. Digitally Stella has provided funding for the Warrior Women Project, the Trevor Project, Stop AAPI Hate and Black Lives Matter. Landers says that these donations have been a huge motivator for her, as this company has given her the privilege to turn what she loves to do into an opportunity to give back to causes she cares about.
Landers hopes that her business success story will motivate other students to pursue their goals.
“Everything I do is entirely self-made. I don’t have training or anything. I woke up one day and said ‘I think I’m going to do this,’ and it worked out pretty well for me,” Landers said. “If I can do something like this and make a passion of mine into a business — and a profitable one — that I can use to give back to communities I care about … just go for it. Because odds are that there’s not a whole lot to lose.”
Landers advises other local business owners to capitalize off of their time in the UCSB community and living in Isla Vista — “No matter what business you want to do, think about how you can best incorporate this special community we have here.” She notes that Isla Vista is easily walkable, which makes business extremely convenient for locals. Additionally, the UCSB community is so universal that Landers remarks many of her orders come from long-graduated alumni living across the US. Her final piece of advice? “People, especially students, are so supportive of other students trying to make something of themselves and make it work. Take advantage of IV and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Advertise your Instagram and product, it’s not annoying!”
What a cool business and story!
Inspiring, Stella. I’ll check out your Etsy site!