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Student story

Jess Langtry

26 December 2023

Studying towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting)


"Be the change you want to see in the world."

UCE Involvement:

UCE Incubator Programme (2015)
Summer Startup Programme (2016/17)
Entré $85K Challenge – Top 11 (2016, 2017)
UCE Marketing Co-ordinator (2017)


General Executive, MUSOC (2014 – 2016)
Co-founder, Mallu
Founder, Jekka

How did you come across the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship (UCE)?

After coming up with the idea for Mallu with my co-founders, Meg and Clive, we met with Michelle Panzer and Rachel Wright, who then accepted us into the Incubator Programme!

What is Mallu?

Mallu is an ethical streetwear brand which uses high quality fairtrade and organic cotton tees from India and combines them with our original designs that are up with the play. My role in Mallu as a creative director is to overlook all creative aspects of the brand, which includes things like design and photography.

How was the Summer Startup Programme?

Awesome! It also meant that I could quit my part time job to work full time on the business. It was frustrating throughout the year studying and not being able to give it a full go. The summer programme was such a great opportunity to spend every day together and really flesh out the business.

What did you learn through the Programme?

I learnt so much: the fundamental basics of running a business, what you need to consider and prioritise, learning about customers, identifying a key problem and working a business model around that. Coming from a creative background with no business knowledge, it was extremely helpful!

This year, you came up with Jekka. What’s that?

I wanted to start testing the waters with selling art as I study fine arts in painting. I really wanted to be part of the Entré $85K competition and give my own venture a shot, so I entered Jekka.

Jekka was a commission-based painting service aimed at students. However, during the competition, the focus market changed and now it’s aimed at higher income people.

Have you sold any commissions?

I’ve sold a few - enough to confirm there is a need! I’ve made a range of things like skim boards and skateboards. My favourite one so far has been a big cartoon flat portrait on a beer pong table!

What are the challenges you’ve faced with Jekka?

The first challenge was working on my own, compared to having a team with Mallu. I’m quite a team person and I like to bounce ideas off others, so it was difficult coming up with ideas on my own.

What advice would you give to a student wanting to begin their own startup?

Make sure you have a passion and make sure its something that will carry and motivate you. Also, don’t get hung up on one idea - be able to adapt and be willing to change your idea!

What do you find interesting or cool about being an entrepreneur?

I’ve always loved the idea of being my own boss and not feeling trapped or stuck with people you don’t want to necessarily work with! For me, it’s a job that doesn’t feel like a job because you are doing something you love!

Do you have any advice for students wanting to join UCE?

Definitely just do it! Give it a go, you have nothing to lose. Being at the University of Canterbury, there’s so many great opportunities and chances to network. At UCE, I’ve loved the professional connections that we are exposed to. The facilities at UCE are awesome and it’s cool to be able to work alongside like-minded indivduals. 

What are your aspirations for the future?

I’d love to be a magazine editor and own an ethical magazine company that inspires and educates people about businesses and social entrepreneurs that do good!

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