Alumna visits business students, shares entrepreneurial tips

Business has been on Jennifer Brown’s brain ever since graduating Glenbrook South in 2006. 

She was named Best Student in Business at her senior awards ceremony and found herself dabbling in e-commerce during her college years at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

Having recently appeared on CNBC’s “The Profit” with her Chicago-based company, Hangout Lighting, Brown visited GBS business students on Oct. 26 to share her story of entrepreneurship.

“My favorite classes were business law, marketing, and AP physics – anything math or science related,” she said. “I was also active in Stage Crew.”

Brown recalls being assigned to building a lamp in her AP physics class, which ironically became a major component of her now-business.

Hangout Lighting is a custom lighting company that Brown started on Etsy in 2012. Prior to that, she was upcycling lamps in college.

“I liked the idea of taking old things and turning them into something even more valuable than they were before,” she said.

Being highly customizable is what sets Brown apart from her competition. Hangout Lighting is now a showroom and manufacturing facility located at 2100 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, where customers can window shop and even design their own custom piece with anything from LED Edison-style light bulbs to colorful pendant wire, reclaimed wood and industrial-style lighting accessories. 

Ava Monastero, a sophomore in the Introduction to Business Strategies and Entrepreneurship class, said she admired Brown’s desire to see her products through from start to finish.

“I found it really cool how she traveled to see where certain components were being made,” Monastero said. “I also found it interesting how she has overcome many obstacles in a male-dominated lighting industry.”

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Alumna visits business students, shares entrepreneurial tips