Liberal Arts sophomore uses creative skills to launch two businesses

Last year, Penn State student McKenna Kimmel traveled to Nanjing, China, through an embedded course offered by the College of the Liberal Arts. Credit: McKenna KimmelAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. —  McKenna Kimmel, a sophomore double-majoring in Chinese and finance with a minor in international business, may have grown up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but her small-town roots provided her with the skill set to succeed at Penn State and beyond.

As a competitive archery shooter in high school, Kimmel was a female embracing a male-dominated sport. She noticed that many of the archery apparel brands did not cater to the needs of female athletes. This sparked an idea — an idea that would allow her to bring into fruition her passion for entrepreneurship.

Quiver Archery was the first company Kimmel created.

“I was tired of the basic pink camouflage option for women," she said. "I envied something stylish and sophisticated that let competitors know that female archery shooters meant business. Right now, I have twelve products on the market associated with this company and have suppliers worldwide inspiring female archery shooters.”

McKenna Kimmel Credit: McKenna KimmelAll Rights Reserved.

That was just the beginning for this young entrepreneur. Due to Kimmel’s innate interest in the relationship between finance, business and the Chinese language, she found a home at Penn State and immediately became involved with student organizations.

“I am a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, one of the nation’s premier business fraternities; Happy Valley Ventures, a venture capital fund; the Nittany Lion Fund, an $8.5 million hedge fund that Penn State students manage; Sapphire, a leadership academic program in Smeal; and I was lucky enough to dance in THON 2019,” Kimmel said.

Getting involved was second nature to Kimmel and provided fuel to the fire for her to begin her next adventure as an entrepreneur and liberal arts student.

“Penn State has offered me so many unique opportunities that are incomparable to any other. I was enrolled in a course last spring titled, 'Study of Eastern Rhetoric: East Meets West Rhetoric' through the Chinese department,” Kimmel said. “This course had an embedded component to it, in which we traveled to Nanjing, China, for two weeks and studied the culture and language and participated in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

This experience allowed Kimmel to hike the Purple Mountain, visit the Confucius temple, travel around China, practice her language skills, and most importantly, participate in an unforgettable experience that brought a global piece to her Penn State puzzle.

Entrepreneurial minds look for solutions to problems present in our world. As a Penn State student, fashion at sporting events is always a concern; Kimmel noticed this and decided to bring a solution to the blank stare so many experience when looking for game-day outfits in their closet.

“I have always been very interested in the clothing that people wear to football games and sporting events,” Kimmel says. “The clothing that we, as students, wear is interesting as it expresses not only our own creativity but also our Penn State pride.”

With this in mind, she set out to create a jean jacket that featured Penn State, through her new venture company, Go State Designs. Due to a lifelong interest in sewing and crafting, Kimmel started to create these jackets and sell them to students, alumni, and friends to wear for Penn State pride-filled events.

Credit: McKenna KimmelAll Rights Reserved.

With ten sold already, Kimmel puts a lot of time into each jacket that she creates for a customer. Whether it is painting, hand-stitching, or even hand-beading a jacket, Kimmel completes all of these tasks herself and provides customers a quality product.

“When I see somebody wearing a jacket that they purchased from me, I cannot help but smile,” Kimmel admits. “It makes me feel so very happy to know that I am able to touch somebody else’s life and make other people happy through my creative outlet.”

Kimmel recently collaborated with the College of the Liberal Arts on an apparel order that was open to all students, faculty and staff. In addition to the typical t-shirts and quarter-zip sweatshirts, the apparel order included a number of Kimmel’s denim Penn State jackets and gave customers the opportunity to request a custom jacket from Go State Designs.

Both of Kimmel’s entrepreneurial experiences, coupled with her classroom experiences, have provided opportunities like no other to genuinely take initiative, make mistakes, learn from them, and create a product well-suited for customers at Penn State and beyond.

“Go State Designs and Quiver Archery have taught me how to apply skills that I have learned inside the classroom to the real world,” Kimmel said. “Whether it is speaking to a distributor globally in China and utilizing my Chinese language skills, or if it is pursuing an investment banking internship with an interest in making a company even more global, Penn State has paved a strong pathway for me to drive on.”

Kimmel recognizes and appreciates the success, as a sophomore in college, of having two companies with a global presence.

"As students, especially students of Penn State, we can make an impact on the world no matter what age we are, so long as we are inspired to do so,” she said. “Penn State has inspired me to do just this and I hope others can find this inspiration too.”

Last Updated March 28, 2019