It goes without saying that students here at Penn State are making strides to success. Many are reinventing themselves, breaking boundaries and even starting their own businesses — senior Marketing major Phoebe Burks has done just that.
Successfully up and running for almost a month, Burks’s startup, Peach Fuzz, is based in State College and sells hand-knitted scarves and headbands. Valley reached out to Burks to discuss her growing business and what it was that inspired her to keep Penn Staters warm all winter.
Knitting is perhaps not the most common of hobbies, especially not for a third grader. Phoebe jokes about her interest in knitting starting at such a young age, “I saw someone knitting once and I turned to my mom and was like ‘Mom, I need to learn how to knit right now’. I should’ve wanted to play softball or something, but no, I wanted to learn how to knit.”
Burks expands, “I was really bad at it and I made ugly scarves, but then pretty recently I started doing it in styles that I like with big chunky yarn. The fashionable and fun scarves are new, but I’ve been knitting for years.”
It wasn’t until this past summer during an internship in Boston with TJX Companies that Phoebe was inspired to grow her intricate hobby into a fully-functional business. Her Boston roommate had started her own beading business, and after helping out a few times with her products, Burks was motivated to start a business of her own.
“She was really supportive of the idea and showed me all of the things she did to get started,” says Phoebe, “I was definitely inspired by her and she has been a mentor throughout all of this.”
Valley couldn’t help but ask about the unique name, Peach Fuzz, as Burks’s choice for the company. “I wanted to name it ‘Phuzz’ originally, but I was afraid that people wouldn’t know how to pronounce it. Then I decided to just make it ‘Fuzz’.” But it wasn’t until Phoebe’s friend jokingly said ‘Peach Fuzz’ that Burks decided on the business’s official title.
Peach Fuzz currently offers knitted headbands and a range of scarves, including infinity scarves. From ‘Nittany Navy’ to ‘Melted Ice Cream White’, there’s an array of colors to choose from, each with their own creative name.
Phoebe is busy in preparation for Fall orders, but hasn’t stopped dreaming big for future products. “I’ve been trying to get into the men’s market and figure out what kind of styles men would like since it’s very different from what I’m selling now,” says Burks.
Not only breaking into a new market, but Burks also mentioned her recent experimentation with various styles and types of yarn. Aside from knitwear, the product list may also expand to include key chains and room decorations, which would be adorned with pompoms or tassels.
The young entrepreneur pours hard work and passion into her handmade products and continues to successfully turn her ideas into a reality. “Each scarf is unique. While I’m making each of them, something different is happening in my life, so they all have different stories,” says Phoebe.