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USF student turns beads into business

USF student Maxim Thuriere’s bracelet business, EnBois, can be viewed at etsy.com/shop/EnBoisByMaxim. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Hobbies are great, but the best ones are the kind that pay off. For one USF student, such a hobby is already paying off. 

For Maxim Thuriere, bracelet making did not start as a business plan. He simply wanted to make some attractive accessories for himself and his friends.

“I wanted a bracelet for myself, and I was looking online — beads in the Caribbean is kind of a culture, everyone has beads or bracelets, so I’ve always really liked those kinds of accessories,” he said. “I didn’t see anything I liked, some things were a little too expensive. So I was like, ‘You know what, let me buy some beads. I’m kind of creative, let me see what I can do.’”

He said he didn’t think of his creations as “anything special,” but friends soon encouraged him to start selling the bracelets. Soon thereafter, he started an Instagram page for EnBois by Maxim. Then, with positive feedback from the photo page, he created a Facebook page and an account on Etsy.

The name EnBois comes from the French word for “wooden,” and is a mnemonic for Every New Bead Offers Its Support.

As the bracelet sales began to pick up, Thuriere, whose mother is Haitian, decided to find an organization that he could work with and help. Since he is passionate about the Haitian education system, he decided to pick an organization he had worked with in the past.

“I used to work with this organization in Haiti called the Haitian Resource Development Foundation (HRDF),” he said. “What they do, basically, is monitor a wide variety of different projects (and) they have this one project that specifically helps education.”

According to its website, the HRDF “prioritizes programs that enable and empower various Haitian locales to further personal and collective independence.” 

The education project with which Thuriere chose to partner offers educational opportunities for Haitian youth that include distance learning, computer literacy and English as a second language (ESL). As French and Haitian Creole are the native languages of Haiti, Thuriere said ESL is very important for easing the transition out of Haiti.

As part of the partnership with HRDF, EnBois by Maxim donates 10 percent of every sale to the education program. Thuriere declined to provide financial numbers or sale numbers to The Oracle, but bracelet and necklaces prices on Etsy average between $9 and $17 with over 190 sales already made.

“I think that was one of the best things I could have ever done, was find a cause and a reason and a purpose for selling, not just for money,” she said. “That really took my business … to something more serious.”

Of course, the road to a successful business was not perfectly paved for the biomedical science major.

“When I first started, I had no idea about business. I didn’t know where to start or (about) business licenses, or taxes or anything like that,” he said. 

To get his company off the ground, Thuriere visited the USF Center for Entrepreneurship. Within the center lies the Student Innovation Incubator.

The incubator offers student entrepreneurs the tools and resources to get businesses off the ground. Thuriere said the incubator was instrumental in the birth of his business.

As for what he’s going to do after he graduates, Thuriere said he will give the business a year to see where it goes. If after that year, he feels that the business venture was worth the time invested but that he is ready to move on, he will proceed with medical school, as he planned when he first came to USF.