Bachelor of Commerce (BCom)

Jenna Herbut

Jenna Herbut

2004 BCom
Event Producer & Fashion Designer
Make It Productions & Make It University

How did you end up in the Alberta BCom program and what did you specialize in?

I grew up in Edmonton and had big dreams of going to New York to study drama but my parents told me I had to stay in Edmonton and go to U of A! At the time I was less than pleased but in retrospect it was a good move. I majored in Marketing because it seemed like the most creative and fun area of business. 

I actually started my Booty Beltz business in my last year of the BCom program. For one of my classes I was required to write a marketing plan and I thought it would be cool to create a fashion accessory line that specialized in belts. After completing the project I was really excited about my hypothetical business and decided to give it a whirl. The Co-op office allowed me to do my last Co-op work term starting Booty Beltz which was awesome! 

At first I did not know what the heck I was doing and knew very little about the fashion world but through some gutsy moves and a lot of tenacity I was able to get my line of simple fabric sash belts into 120 stores in Canada, USA and Japan in less than 2 years. It was an incredible journey and I met some of the most amazing entrepreneurs from all over the world through my travels but I was rarely home and the non-stop work was taking a toll on health and social life. I was 25 and started to feel burnt out. After some time travelling in Europe and a reassessment of my career and life goals I decided to cut back on wholesaling and focus on selling Booty Beltz at festivals and craft shows across Canada. This is where I discovered a hole in marketplace for a show that was cool and fun enough that my own peer group would want to check it out. I am a little obsessed with New York and travel there a lot and noticed a strong resurgence in the DIY, handmade movement. Websites like Etsy were reconfirming my desire to help change the industry and give craft shows a well needed marketing makeover!

You’ve started your own business that has a laidback, artistic, and creative focus, which some people might view as being in conflict with what business school aims to teach students. What did you take away from the Alberta BCom that helped you succeed with Make It Productions?

To be honest I probably don't fit the mold of a typical Alberta BCom student. I never saw myself working for a big company or for anyone at all for that matter! I was wildly entrepreneurial at a very young age and started a jewelry business at 14 which earned me enough money that I could postpone working for someone else until university! It was in my blood and I was constantly thinking of ways to make money without doing a job I didn't find meaningful. I think this is what is so great about commerce and much of what I learned in school; you can have an idea and actually turn it into a reality that allows you to afford a fantastic lifestyle! Even though I hated accounting it was a great skill to learn and I am better off for have taken it. 

Do you have any advice for young people who are either thinking of starting a BCom degree or are working towards one?

I think a BCom is one of the most adaptable and applicable degrees you can earn. You can use it for so many things and none of the courses are wasteful. Also, you can be a creative, artsy person but if you don't have the business skills to back it up, good luck! I have run my business for 7 years and even though there have been some rough patches absolutely LOVE what I do and it is so exciting to have such impact on an industry. 

My advice is to figure out what makes you excited most is life and follow that path. A life without excitement sucks! 

Also if you don't find a job that fits what you do best, make your own!