Student Profiles

Woodbury Student Entrepreneur Uses His Fashion Sense to Help Close International Communication Gaps

Noel Lopez

Noel Lopez

There’s a unifying magic that happens when someone sees the symbol of their country on another human being. An instant camaraderie, an immediate connection and a sense of unity are born.

The neckties created by his company, The Town and Co., each have a logo representing countries throughout the world. “As missionaries, we’re strangers in a strange land,” says Lopez. “Seeing a familiar country symbol on a stranger’s tie says we have a connection even though we don’t know each other. It is the ideal relationship icebreaker for missionaries and anyone communicating internationally.”

Lopez has always had an affinity for fashion and at the end of his own mission in Uruguay, he made a keen observation of some missionaries in one particular area. “They were wearing colors of Uruguay’s flag and Uruguay’s soccer logo on neckties,” says Lopez. “When I went to my mission reunion, I noticed several of the guys wearing the same tie.”

It was then that Lopez realized he could keep his mission experience alive, and create new conversations by designing a tie that featured a country’s logo. “It immediately attracts attention, opening a conversation door that begs the question ‘what is that symbol?’

“Noel’s keen marketing sense and disciplined enterprise approach has served him well,” says Dr. Paul Dishman, Marketing Department Chair. “He is just one example of the numerous student entrepreneurs who have taken what they’ve learned in Woodbury, and started their own successful businesses.”

Now, the whole the world is taking notice. U.S. politicians, members of Congress and foreign dignitaries are expressing enormous interest in purchasing the ties. Lopez credits the Woodbury School of Business for preparing him to meet his greatest challenge to date – scaling to meet the new and increasing demand.

“I love fashion but that isn’t enough to run this business,” says Lopez. “My Woodbury accounting courses help me understand how to balance and keep the books, and my business school marketing classes have taught me how to market domestically and internationally. You can have a passion like I do for fashion, but you also have to understand the business.” Lopez continues to be inspired by fashion icon, Ralph Lauren, and one day hopes to design a line that will be featured in the Olympic games, like Lauren achieved this past summer.

His family immigrated from Sinaloa, Mexico to Spokane, Washington with his father earning just $2 per hour. “Our family is the American dream in my opinion,” says Lopez. “We could’ve left but my Dad said ‘just keep going, it’s ok. Because of my parents, I have the opportunity now, and like my Dad, I just keep going.”

Lopez is one of many successful Woodbury School of Business student entrepreneurs pursuing his passion. Currently, Lopez’ ties are sold in 11 stores nationwide (and growing), available through his website and Deseret Book. Eventually, he hopes to create ties for each state in the union, and in as many companies as possible. He’s also in the process of creating a product for women. “I’m hopefully inspiring people, one necktie at a time.”

For more information on Lopez’ handmade neckties visit www.thetownandco.com. For more information on UVU Woodbury School of Business visit www.uvu.edu/woodbury.

A Woodbury “Village” Helps Accounting Student & Single Mom of 3 Realize Her Graduation Dream

Amanda Vorkink

Amanda Vorkink

2016 UVU Woodbury School of Business accounting graduate, Amanda Vorkink, redefines what it means to be a fighter, and she’s given new meaning to the term “non-traditional” student. Divorced with three small children between the ages of 5 and 2, left to raise them alone in 2013, and handle her own personal health issues, Vorkink had more than a full plate.

Yet one, very personal goal remained crystal clear through that incredibly challenging period – she was returning to college to complete her education. Thanks to the supportive environment of the UVU Woodbury School of Business, and the university’s Wee Care Child Care Center, Vorkink kept her eye on the prize, and graduated in July with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

“When a mother’s priorities expand to include making sure she is attending classes and doing homework, time management is crucial,” says Vorkink. “My Woodbury School of Business professors were so compassionate to my needs as mother, provider and student. They built up my self-confidence and showed me getting my degree was entirely possible.”

There’s no doubt that single mothers, have to put much more thought into what kind of schedule they can take on--how many classes they can take, what’s realistic in terms of having to do the work for each of the courses that they’re enrolled in, how that’s going to impact the home and what kind of support is available – both financial and emotional.

“My advisor, Scott Childs, helped me find school and government scholarships for single moms, and the Wee Care Child Care Center took excellent care of my children while I was in class,” says Vorkink.

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“Everyone was committed to my success – from writing me letters of recommendations for jobs to being flexible and working with my schedule. They gave me the confidence to finish school and land the job I deserve.”

At first, Vorkink wasn’t certain what aspect of accounting she wanted to pursue, but after a few internal auditing classes, she was hooked, and the rest is history. Mothers who return to school don’t have a lot of time to be repeating courses or taking courses they don’t need, so establishing a good relationship with an advisor is key, and Childs made certain that not one unit was wasted.

Indeed, everything did come together for Vorkink, including finding love again, and a job in accounting at Intermountain Health Care. The sky’s the limit for her, and she is proof positive that single mom’s can take that necessary step to greater pay and career advancement by going back to school.

“Women don’t want to be underemployed or stuck in jobs below their skill set,” she affirms. “Some moms go back to school in hopes of obtaining a career that will also help them meet financial and family obligations. Others are simply looking for personal enrichment—whatever the reason, I would tell any single mom, the journey is hard, but Utah Valley University helps make it possible.”

For more information on the UVU Woodbury School of Business Accounting program, visit http://www.uvu.edu/accounting/index.html. For more information on UVU’s Wee Care Center visit http://www.uvu.edu/weecare/