Vincent Choi, 23; Deborah Umunnabuike, 23; Jessica Umunnabuike, 21
"I'm looking to learn how to create a more socially responsible business," says Deborah Umunnabuike, a political science major at the University of Chicago and co-founder of Avant Gaudy, an online vintage clothing shop she started with her sister, Jessica, an undergraduate at Hofstra University, in the summer of 2005. The daughters of Nigerian immigrants started the three-employee business because they were passionate about clothes and saw a growing demand among their peers for vintage clothing. And they soon realized that there was a growing demand abroad as well, specifically in parts of Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australia, based on analyzing Web traffic to their site, almost 26,000 visitors from more than 30 countries. The sisters recruited Hong Kong native Vincent Choi to bring a global perspective to the business and better reach shoppers in Asia.
Deborah says running the business has made her want to become a serial entrepreneur, but until she graduates in 2009, she will continue to run it conservatively. She is also involved with the Forte Foundation, a group dedicated to creating young women business leaders, and is interested in continuing community work in the spirit of Avant Gaudy's DIY/Smashup Chicago, a daylong networking and trade-show event she organized in 2006 for craftspeople and entrepreneurs.