Class of 2019: An Entrepreneur with a Passion for Sneakers

When rapper Kanye West boldly proclaimed, “I am currently the single, highest paid person in footwear — that means I make more money on shoes than Michael Jordan,” Jasmine Allen was paying attention.

The 2019 Stetson grad, who earned a dual degree in entrepreneurship and finance, has been following West’s business ventures into sneakers since her freshman year, when she took a professional communications course taught by Management Instructor Mitzi Dykes.

“One of the main things we had to do in that class was a presentation, and it was something we could do out of our own passion,” Allen says. “My passion has always been sneakers and just everything that’s cool, new and trendy. I want to open a sneakers store eventually.

“I remember talking to her (Professor Dykes) about what my passions were, and I did my presentation on sneakers — a comparison analysis between Kanye West when he had a sneaker deal with Nike versus his sneaker deal with Adidas. That set the tone for my college experience, which was to put my passion into whatever assignment I had.”

The Marietta, Ga., native got her passion for entrepreneurship from her mother, who started her own insurance company when Jasmine was in middle school. “Being an entrepreneur has always been in my mind because I saw my mom doing it.”

“My passion has always been sneakers,” said the Marietta, Ga., native.

Still, when Allen enrolled at Stetson, it was as a business administration major because the entrepreneurship degree didn’t exist yet. That changed through the efforts of William Jackson, D.B.A., Professor of Entrepreneurship and the Director of the Joseph C. Prince Entrepreneurship Program.

“I got a chance to sit and talk with Dr. Jackson and I explained my interest in entrepreneurship and how my mom had been an entrepreneur,” Allen says. “He said, ‘Well, I’m working on making entrepreneurship a major and I’m working on this leaders program that you can join and start your own business and go to pitch competitions.’ ”

Allen not only became an entrepreneurship major when that degree program was finalized – she also changed from a finance minor to a double major in finance under Jackson’s guidance.

Allen joined the Prince Entrepreneurship Leaders Program which, according to the Stetson website, is an organization “intended to provide guidance and support for those who are serious about launching their own scalable business either while at Stetson or after graduation, as well as gather a group of students to represent the university at various competitions.”

Allen was part of a team that took first place at Kickstart Weekend Daytona Beach, an entrepreneur competition held October 2018 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Though she participated with four other students from the Prince program, they were assigned to different teams at the event, which was open not only to collegians but also the community at large.

Group photo, all side by side
Jasmine Allen, seated, left, was one of six Stetson students who flew to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to compete in the Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference in March.

“We were tasked with different problems in Volusia County, so we had to take a problem, come up with a solution and then create a business off of that solution,” Allen says. “We decided to focus on the problem of algae blooms here in Florida that’s affecting the ocean and our waterways.”

Judges awarded her team first place for their idea for “this kind of robot that skims algae from the top of lakes and waterways, and then you repurpose the algae.”

Allen’s entrepreneurial “kickstart” attitude manifested itself in other ways.

She was instrumental in reactivating Stetson’s chapter of Enactus (“Entrepreneurial Action Us,” which its Stetson website describes as a “not-for-profit organization supported by individuals, foundations and corporations whose mission is to build collegiate Enactus Teams who teach free enterprise in order to better individuals, communities and countries”).

In her junior year, Allen became the business manager of the Stetson Reporter, the university’s student-run news and opinion publication, which switched from a newspaper to a magazine format in 2016.

Jasmine Allen ’19

“It had been years since they had a business manager,” Allen says, adding her main tasks were securing advertising for the publication, and raising its profile as a potential advertising outlet for off-campus businesses in downtown DeLand.

Allen also worked on a project through the Prince program “to bring fresh foods to the Spring Hill community of DeLand, because they live in a ‘food desert’ and they don’t have access to fresh and healthy food,” she says.

That effort involved “trying to connect the business school with the Center for Community Engagement and Bonner Program students — just to get that connection going,” Allen says. “Our community is so important here at Stetson. We serve our community and our community serves us.”

Three days after graduation, Allen began work for Benalytics Consulting Group, an HR and benefits management firm, at their office in her hometown, Marietta. Obtaining such corporate experience is part of her long-term plan to eventually get into sneakers.

“I choose that route because in the sneaker industry it’s a lot of who you know instead of what you know,” Allen says. “I want to take this time to build connections and make a name for myself and get support from people in the industry and things like that, and then open my sneaker store and that become my full-time thing.”

— Rick de Yampert