College is a period in which students decide what they are passionate about and take the first steps out in the real world toward their future.
Liz Sheih, owner of the Costume Closet, is a recent graduate taking those first steps into the real world, charting the path for the rest of her life.
“I am young so I have a while to choose what I want to do,” Sheih said. “My parents always told me that if you are not enjoying what you are doing, then you are not living life to the fullest.”
Sheih graduated in May 2010 from Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C. with a dual-degree in interior design and business.
While she hadn’t anticipated leaving the area so soon after graduation, she got engaged to her boyfriend who was offered a full-time engineering job in Christiansburg, Va.
“I am a certified fashion forecaster: I come up with colors that are coming in season,” Sheih said. “There was nothing for me to do here.”
While the New River Valley may not have been an ideal place for Sheih to capitalize on her interest in interior design, she found it was a great opportunity to explore her interests in entrepreneurship.
“Along with my private school education, came a very hefty student loan. Coming out (of that) I said, ‘What is something I could do that I really enjoy, that kind of has to with fashion, that I get to interact with people and would be fun for a time?’” Sheih said.
Sheih noticed that Blacksburg did not have a business that properly addressed the market for Halloween costumes, and resolved to open the Costume Closet, which is located on Draper Ave. near the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market.
While many post-graduates might want to find a steady job to ease their way out of their student loans, Sheih has embraced the risk of running a business.
“I like risk — that sense of danger. I love the adrenaline behind it and I also enjoy working for myself,” Sheih said.
The store has enjoyed a wealth of success since opening on Oct. 1, capitalizing on the high demand for costumes leading up to Halloween.
Naairah Khawaja, a freshman business information technology major, went in for some last-minute Halloween shopping and was surprised by the store’s good selection.
“I didn’t know that they had so many costumes since it is a pretty small store,” Khawaja said. “They have a lot to offer everyone.”
Khawaja was not only surprised by the wide selection but also by the quality of service, an aspect that Shieh has put a lot of effort toward.
“I believe that if you are going to do something, you should do something with quality and integrity and then you will be successful,” Sheih said.
Sheih has confidence that her products are high quality, reasonably priced goods, remembering that many of her customers might have nagging student loans of their own to deal with.
“Being a recent college student has reminded me that the prices cannot be too high,” Sheih said.
The Costume Closet is a seasonal business. After Halloween, Sheih will close her retail space until next September, when she will reopen and be available for customizable preorders.