Story by: Brooke Lammert, MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach
Originally from West Palm Beach, FL, Rontier Whitfield is a 22-year old transfer student pursuing her bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising after obtaining her Associate’s degree in Fashion Business and Management from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her knack for fashion has stemmed from a passion that developed from a young age that has allowed her to flourish as a student and expand her knowledge not only in the history of fashion, production, and marketing, but retail business in its entirety. Once she graduates Rontier’s goal is to launch a magazine that showcases different types of beauty in all shapes, sizes, and skin tones. However, Rontier doesn’t stop at rising to the top with just one end goal in mind. It was another passion that originally drew her to transfer to Mississippi State University.
“I transferred to Mississippi State specifically for the Entrepreneurship Center. If it were not for the E-Center, my business, Esteemed Juices, would not be where it is today.”
At 16 years old, Rontier was already formulating business ideas. An idea for fresh tasting alcoholic beverages that began formulating at that early age ended up sticking with her through the years and as she, her education and her spirituality grew, so did her idea. It wasn’t until she was living in New York City and learning about health and nutrition through observing the lifestyle, eating and drinking habits that Rontier really formulated and made the move to expand on her idea. Frustrated with the limited options for healthy alternatives to all the processed drinks out on the market she decided to create a drink free of unhealthy additives. While in New York she started creating samples for her coworkers to try and really started experimenting with what she could create. It wasn’t until she got in contact with the E-Center through participating as a counselor at the iCreate camp that things really took off. Already equipped with her own drive and work ethic, it was the push of having the E-Center team cheering her on that helped her cross the finish line. Rontier’s idea has now been funded twice and is full speed ahead in its growth.
“I was able to gain confidence in my business and he introduced me to wonderful mentors, Parker Stewart and Bob Seitz (counselors at the Veterans Business Outreach Center at Mississippi State). Whenever I am excited about an idea, they listen to me and provide me with necessary steps to accomplish any business goal.”
Rontier’s hard work and passion are embodied in the product she renders, not only from her work in the E-Center, but through her entire student career. She embodies strength, health, and style as she delivers quality products that speak of the same. Her next step for Esteemed Juices is launching an e-commerce business by May 2018. She encourages those around her to take a chance on their ideas and themselves.
“If anyone is interested in getting involved with the E-Center, I would tell them to go for it! Everyone is super helpful and dedicated to making sure each business is a success!”