By Carlin Carr
Back to basics: A budding entrepreneur launches a lifestyle from her dorm room
A new generation of students walked across Walker's graduation stage in June ready to take on the world. Among them was Celeste Davis. The recent alumna is not your typical get-it-done student who saw her future only in books. While at Walker's, she used her educational prowess both in the classroom and to make change happen outside of it, too.
Celeste saw her opportunity to make a difference with the launch of her own skin care line — a business she created, developed and marketed while still a student. The all-natural products go "back to basics" with simple, clean ingredients and just a few essentials — lip balm, facial wash and lotion — to reduce consumption and waste. It's a motto that her generation is leading with, and her peers are her primary market.
"I feel my generation is tired of the clutter, and we want to make change," says the budding social entrepreneur — a term she was happy to learn more about during a summer at Babson College, where she will attend next year. "There, I learned the business can be for profit and help the world."
The Glastonbury, Connecticut, native says that she really got serious about her business during her junior year at Walker's. The idea started with making her own perfume out of mouthwash when she was just 14. She soon expanded her repertoire, researching "good skin care and bad skin care" products and decided she would develop new ones. She focused more seriously on her business for her Junior Year Project — a signature initiative each student takes on typically during the summer between sophomore and junior year.
Celeste used the opportunity to "get serious" with her idea, naming the company "Invigor," registering it as a limited liability company (LLC), designing labels, developing a social media presence and launching a marketing campaign. Her idea grew, and so did her customer base — from just friends and family to a wider following. Soon her dorm room at Walker's could no longer handle the orders and she hired a distributor.
Celeste credits Walker's with her ability to confidently pursue her dreams and take a few risks along the way. "Walker's has prepared me to go out to other places. I'm not afraid to share. It's a place that really makes sure you know your voice is important and you feel confident," she says.
Much of the starting place for gaining this self-assurance was in the classroom. Celeste thrived in the small-class environment, calling herself "a very active student." "I like to ask a lot of questions and always be participating." She says her teachers were always challenging her, even on subjects she may not have initially been interested in. Learning to open her mind to new subjects and ideas was transformative.
But, she says, that confidence wasn't always there; Walker's brought it out of her. "My voice has gotten stronger. I learned to no longer be afraid." In fact, she remembers one of those turning-point moments. Her teacher in Advanced U.S. History asked her to present a speech — always a nerve-wracking ordeal. She memorized hers and even delivered it with a Southern accent. Her teacher was so impressed, she asked her to perform it at Morning Meeting — in front of the entire school.
"I messed up the first line," she recalls, "and I didn't cry." The support around her was palpable, and she went on to give a memorable performance.
That support comes from many directions at Walker's. Celeste admits that her high-achieving classmates have been instrumental in challenging her to work her hardest. She even credits them with inspiring her to start Invigor. "They are the best dancers, the best riders, and the best squash players," she says, "always practicing and always pursuing their passion. They inspired me."
Celeste will continue to pursue her passions at Babson, where she will hone her social business skills and plans to grow Invigor. She hopes the "back-to-basics" approach can extend to other lifestyle areas, including a clothing line.
Even though she'll be on a new campus next year, Celeste will still carry Walker's memories with her, especially, she says, the many moments with friends. She's thankful the school allows time "just to be together," and from that, this new alumna says she's gained more than imagined: "I found sisters."