Student e-commerce startup helps upcoming TCU designers grow their businesses


Olivia Satkiewicz sews on the finishing touches to one of her designs. Satkiewicz’s brand, Designed by Liv, has been featured on Turbulent & Company since August. (Katherine Lester/TCU360 Staff)

By Katherine Lester

A student-run e-commerce startup is dedicated to helping TCU students start their own fashion and design brands. 

Turbulent & Company, an online platform, connects customers to small fashion and design brands run by TCU students.

“Horned Frogs first,” said Maggie Hicks, founder and president of Turbulent & Company. “Our goal is to be able to get anyone from TCU who wants to start a fashion-related brand on our platform before we move on to other schools.”

Hicks, a junior entrepreneurship major, started Turbulent & Company her freshman year with the help of Eric Sasadeusz, a junior marketing major.

The site launched as an affiliate site then transitioned to a dropshipping business model where a seller passes on sales to be fulfilled by a third-party supplier. Its current platform houses small fashion brands and helps them grow.

Turbulent & Company’s website features three TCU student-run brands. (Turbulent & Company).

The site features three brands: Designed by Liv, Blue Morpho and Angelus Apparel. Hicks said two new student-run brands will be added soon.

The company began shifting to its new marketplace model last year after classes were canceled in March due to the pandemic. Hicks went home to Oklahoma, where she came up with the idea to help small sellers on one large platform.

“I was shopping online, and I thought, if someone could put all of the really awesome brands in one place, that would be so convenient,” said Hicks.

Customers have relied more on the convenience of online shopping during the pandemic. According to data from Statista, retail e-commerce in the third quarter of 2020 accounted for 14.3% of all U.S. retail sales, a 3% increase from the corresponding quarter of 2019.

Close to a third of all e-commerce sales in 2020 were in apparel and fashion.

“There are so many amazing brands that you have access to order from now because of e-commerce, but you’ll never find them because they either have to have large marketing campaigns or you need to hear about it from a friend,” said Hicks. “So, I was really thinking, how could we get the best merchandise all in one place?”

Sophomore fashion merchandising major Olivia Satkiewicz is one of the designers featured on the site. She said she couldn’t resist when Turbulent & Company asked to feature her work.

Olivia Satkiewicz, Sunny Lynd, and Abby McKenzie pose in Designed by Liv tops handmade by Satkiewicz. (Turbulent & Company via Instagram.)

“I kind of just immediately jumped into it. I was like, this is a great opportunity, I’m currently just selling on my Instagram and Venmoing people so it can only go up from here,” said Satkiewicz.

She was also inspired during the stay-at-home days of the pandemic. She said her apparel construction class was cut short due to COVID-19, and because students didn’t have access to sewing machines, they were not getting sewing experience.

“I was like, this is ridiculous, I’m going to pull out my grandma’s old sewing machine and try it at home,” said Satkiewicz.

From there, Satkiewicz said her grandmother gave her old fabric which she used to make her own clothes. Eventually, she sold them through Instagram and created her fashion brand Designed by Liv.

Hicks and her team offer services that include marketing packages, handling transactions, and soon an influencer network.

Satkiewicz added that Turbulent & Company provided a much more personal experience for her growing business, especially because they understood the challenges of running a business while balancing college.

“I really appreciate that Turbulent is also in the same position that I am, because they’re also busy college students,” said Satkiewicz. 

For now, Hicks said Turbulent is focused on supporting small TCU student brands with the business side so the artists and designers can focus on creating.

“I really want this to be a platform that shows upcoming musicians and upcoming brands and gives them just as good of a shot as established brands and established musicians,” said Hicks.