For Katie Jacobs (ABJ ’05), reconnecting with UGA was as simple as saying ‘yes.’
After years of spending much of her time and energy on launching, Cheeky Peach, a highly successful women’s clothing boutique in Athens, Katie Jacobs (ABJ ’05) knew she was ready to do more for her community. Her involvement with her alma mater started with a simple ‘yes.’
“I had said ‘no’ to things for a long time,” said Katie. “I was having kids, I was renovating the store, we were constantly building, and I was working hard on the e-commerce side of our business. I finally decided to take a step back from those things and start saying ‘yes.’”
With the help of UGA’s Office of Corporate Relations, Katie began speaking to classes in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, sponsoring study abroad trips to Ghana and serving on UGA’s new Entrepreneurship Board.
“I started plugging back in with UGA in 2016, thanks in large part to the Corporate Relations team,” explained Katie. “They helped me reignite a passion for mentoring.”
STUDENTS ENERGIZE AND INSPIRE HER
Katie is now involved in numerous areas of campus. She has most enjoyed the opportunities she’s had to speak to students, most recently during the 2017 FACS Week, a celebration of the opportunities provided to students through the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
“It’s been re-energizing and inspiring,” Katie said. “You realize the students in these classes, and those who work for me, are only 18- to 22-years-old. But they are so talented and are doing things that a lot of us were not doing at their age. Their abilities are kind of mind-blowing.”
Katie is also committed to hiring UGA students and alumni to work for Cheeky Peach. “I wanted to create a place that is not just a workplace, but also a training program,” Katie explained. “You’re coming here and you’re working, but I’m committing to you.”
She’s also dedicated to helping her young employees advance their careers in the fashion and apparel industry by assisting them with their resumes, preparing them for interviews, and helping them make connections in the business.
Through her relationships in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, which is celebrating its centennial in 2018, Katie became familiar with the Ghana study aboard program. The UGA Corporate Relations team helped her establish the Cheeky Peach Scholarship Fund as a way to support a program in which she saw great value. This scholarship will support fashion merchandising students study abroad in Ghana this spring. The scholarship recipient will also have the opportunity to work with Katie to have garments made in Ghana sold in Cheeky Peach.
SUPPORTING UGA’S BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS
Katie’s latest passion is supporting the university’s focus on innovation by joining UGA’s entrepreneurship board. As Katie describes it, the board “provides student entrepreneurs with a supportive environment and a lot of resources.” Students in the program also have opportunities to enter contests to receive financial support for their ideas.
The board hopes to eventually create an incubator to provide students with the opportunity to work alongside other entrepreneurial students. “We liked the idea that a student could be working next to someone who’s not necessarily working on the same idea,” Katie explained. “One student could be working on a tech startup and another could be working on a fashion clothing line. Their energies create a sort of synergy that evolves into something big.”
THE IMPACT OF ENGAGEMENT
Katie has seen the effect her generosity has on students. “When you’re seeing your money go to work and how it’s benefiting a student, that’s really cool. Especially watching it unfold right in our own backyard.”
Katie understands how alumni can feel disconnected from UGA after graduation. Through her engagement, she has enjoyed witnessing the ways contributions and participation can help improve the life of a student.
“If I’m helping students receive a top-notch education, become successful and ultimately do well, then the hope is that kind of generosity continues and it trickles into every part of our society.”
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