Middle Georgia State Education Major Successfully Mixes Her Studies with Entrepreneurship

Sheron Smith

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Once she became a junior at Middle Georgia State University, Allie Keel made the same discovery many students make when they begin taking upper-level courses: balancing a job with a full college workload is a challenge.
But Keel had loved working at a small clothing boutique in Cochran during her freshman and sophomore years, a job that stirred her entrepreneurial spirit. She wondered if opening her own online shop would give her the flexible hours she needed to stay in that business while finishing her early childhood education degree.
"I decided to take a leap of faith," said Keel, 20, who grew up in Cochran.
The result is her recently opened online clothing boutique, which she calls Landra Layne, a combination of her and her younger sister's middle names. Landra Layne specializes in women's clothing that Keel selects and buys from among several wholesale vendors.
"Starting your own business, no matter how big or small, is scary and always a gamble," Keel said. "Working at a boutique during my first two years in college I pretty much learned how to run a store, so I already had that experience and knew what I needed to do to get mine started."
Landra Layne - landralayneboutique.com - specializes in dress shirts, t-shirts, and other youthful-style tops. Keel recently added blue jeans to her inventory and hopes to soon add other types of women's pants, as well as men's clothing. Her boyfriend, Clay Foskey, pitches in by taking photos of Keel modeling her store's clothing at various spots around downtown Cochran, near Middle Georgia State's campus.
"Whenever I get new merchandise you can find me walking around downtown Cochran with him following me around with a camera," she said.
Keel said sales have surpassed her expectations.
"A lot of people want to try clothes on before they buy so I was really surprised when stuff started selling so quickly. I've had so much support from the Cochran community. I could not have done this without the support of my family and boyfriend."
Dr. Melinda Robinson-Moffett, director of Middle Georgia State's Career Services office, said college students are often at the forefront of creative entrepreneurship.
"Starting a business at any age can be daunting, but I have found that young entrepreneurs are passionate, eager to do more than work the typical part-time or work-study job, and are far less concerned about following traditional business models," she said. "They are risk-takers."
When she graduates in 2020, Keel hopes to begin a teaching career in either Bleckley County or Laurens County. She also wants to use the experience she is gaining running her online boutique to open a brick-and-mortar clothing store she plans to operate while still teaching.
By opening Landra Layne, "I have learned that it is important to do what you think you can't," Keel said, "and to always try to do your best."