Missy Twohig wanted a piercing studio to act as a second home, a place where she and her customers would feel content and at ease.
The desire to create this relaxed atmosphere inspired Twohig, 29, to open her own studio, which she named Sacred Piercing.
“You have this vision in your mind of the way you would like things to be, and the only way you can see if that’s possible is by trying,” she said. “It took me a couple years to realize that, but here I am.”
And young people increasingly share these entrepreneurial ideas.
Twohig and Patrick Fisher, a Penn State-Behrend senior who helped Twohig develop the business plan for Sacred Piercing and will work in the studio, said it seems that many young people today are drawn to self-employment.
Fisher, 22, said his generation has seen parents struggle at work, with dissatisfaction and outsourced jobs.
“We’re not willing to accept that,” he said. “You see a lot of younger individuals going out and starting businesses.”
According to nationwide data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2005, there were 1.91 million self-employed people younger than age 34 in nonagricultural industries, an increase from 1.68 million in 2000.
Overall, the number of self-employed people also increased, from 9.21 million in 2000 to 9.51 million in 2005.
But this self-employment is not out of desperation _ in recent weeks, Erie and Crawford counties have posted low unemployment rates, with Erie County at 4.1 percent and Crawford at 4.2 percent.
Still, Jim Fairbank, an associate professor of management at Penn State-Behrend, said he has noticed an increased interest in entrepreneurship among young people for several years.
“It’s a reflection of people wanting to take control of their own career and their own destiny,” he said, adding that young people exposed to broader experiences are “seeing the opportunities that are out there.”
But while passion might be high, it’s not an easy road for young entrepreneurs.
Fairbank and Jim Quinn, a counselor in the Erie office of SCORE, an association of mostly retired businessmen who provide free counseling to small businesses, cited financing as a principal challenge.
A thorough business plan is crucial in getting funding, Quinn said.
And steps are being taken to improve the process.
On May 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Small Business Lending Improvement Act, which is designed to increase use of the Small Business Administration’s business-loan program and would reduce fees for borrowers.
Twohig utilized the SBA’s loan program, rather than relying on credit-card financing, on the advice of consultants from the Small Business Development Center at Gannon University. She said she had some difficulties because banks couldn’t recall prior instances in which a piercing studio received a small-business loan.
But Twohig said that issue was just a small snag in her plans to open a studio. She has been piercing for six years, and has wanted to open her own shop for four years. Now, she says, her eyes are on future plans to improve her services.
She will apply for certification from the Association of Professional Piercers, a nonprofit that publishes information on health and safety issues relating to body piercing. Twohig also intends to offer organic jewelry _ made from materials like stones, glass and bone _ as well as henna tattoos and, possibly, massages.
Enthusiasm is key for a business to succeed, said Martin Lehman, a New York-based SCORE counselor.
“The main thing is, do you really know what you want to do?” he said. “Have you really dived into the pool and is this where you can swim?”
And for Twohig, that seems to be the case.