As a toddler, Wofford junior Aldina Dautovic and her family escaped the horrors of war in Bosnia/Herzegovina. At that time, the possibility of her running her own business seemed about as likely as her walking on the moon.
But Dautovic and her family moved as refugees to Germany in 1992, then to America in 1999. And now? Forget the moon. She’s shooting for the stars. She started her own jewelry design business as part of Wofford’s Success Initiative program.
“I started it in August,” she says. “I was thinking of a project that I could really enjoy while learning something. I decided to make jewelry and it was so fun I thought, ‘I should continue with this.’ So I bought all the supplies necessary and decided to make more.
“It was a way for me to get away from things and do something creative. It has taught me entrepreneurial skills, as well, which are good skills to have when doing something creative.”
Her jewelry can be seen at www.webjam.com/aldinasdesigns. She says the seeds of the idea were planted last year.
“I studied abroad in Europe last semester and I began thinking about my future,” she says. “I’m an economics major, which isn’t very specific, and a friend that I met there said I could own a shop some day. I think ever since then I’ve considered running my own business in the back of my mind. I have all this opportunity here, so it wasn’t long before I thought ‘Why not?’”
This is America, after all. Even if it’s not the America she was expecting upon arrival. A fan of American movies and television shows, Dautovic landed in Greenwood, S.C.
“I was looking forward to something huge like in the movies,” she laughs. “I used to watch Beverly Hills 90210 on television and that was what I was expecting. But I’m getting used to it. I can still see myself moving to a big city some day.”
She is preparing for that at Wofford. A double major in economics and German, Dautovic is contemplating adding a minor in government. Not exactly the kind of studies one would associate with the jewelry business, but then again Dautovic isn’t your typical entrepreneur.
It wouldn’t be possible had her family not brought her to America, which is still considered the land of opportunity worldwide.
“I agree,” she says. “We moved here in 1999 and then my stepdad moved here in 2001 and started his own business. He does landscaping, and in Germany he never could have done that. Here you can start with nothing, and wake up every day and try something else.
“It inspires me. I’m already thinking that this (jewelry design business) might become huge and make me a big designer some day.”
Beats walking on the moon any day.