Student Spotlight: Meet Devin Epps

Meet Devin Epps

One year ago Devin started a culinary brand on his campus that was decent and profitable but had no online presence. This past semester, using some very simple digital marketing and social media techniques, Devin was able to get his first contract with Scripps Networks Interactive. Scripps Networks is the holding company of the Food Network, Cooking Channel, and many more!

We asked Devin some questions about his company, The Shirtless Chef. You can read his interview below:

Hey, Devin. Let’s start off with you telling us a little about yourself.

{Q} Where are you from?

I am from Murfreesboro, Tennessee a suburb of Nashville, TN

{Q} What university do you attend?

The University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama

{Q} What did you study?

I graduated this past Spring with a Bachelors in Marketing and Quantitative Methods with a Concentration in International Business

{Q} Why did you want to study marketing?

It was more so about what I didn’t want to study. I knew I wanted to go to business school, and I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was a kid. With that being said, accounting is one dimensional to me, finance didn’t truly peak my interest, and management is a developed skill rather than a study. So it boiled down to Economics and Marketing, and I simply felt that being a better marketer than economist would be a more relevant fit for my entrepreneurial dreams.

 {Q} What are some of your hobbies?

I absolutely love cooking. But outside of that, I like playing and watching sports, video production, photography, listening to music, and I am starting to appreciate fashion more than ever have

Tell us about your cool venture

{Q} When/Why did you start?

I began The Shirtless Chef out of my college apartment in September of 2016.

It started after a dispute I had with my former culinary employer. Without going into too much detail, it was a mutual decision for us to part ways. I wasn’t able to express myself at that job and felt like I was in a box. So I decided to do food service the way I thought food service should be done; with love and creativity.

{Q} What’s unique about what you do?

The Shirtless aspect alone is a bit bold, but besides that, I hardly do my gigs shirtless. My business is more than just a service or a product, but rather an all-inclusive brand. It is me, my ambitions, my artistry, my initiatives, and my vision all boiled down into one memorable and symbolic name that I am now blessed to profit from. To be able to be on the cusp of making a living off of simply being yourself is truly a blessing.

{Q} What has been the hardest part working with your business?

At such a young age, with such a quirky name, it can be difficult for some people to take you seriously; they see you as a gimmick. But only if you allow them to. I’ve learned that if you carry yourself as legitimate, those that are willing to do serious business with you, will perceive you as legitimate.

{Q} How are you marketing your business?

Primarily through social media. The large majority of my target market utilizes Instagram and Facebook multiple times a day. It makes sense to keep my brand relevant and updated on those platforms. I also use my events as marketing opportunities by documenting them and posting videos/pictures of the event’s environment to further elevate the brand image.

{Q} What advice would you give to a college student looking to start down a similar path as yours?

Know yourself, and mostly know what you want out of your business. You want to be rock solid on your vision and purpose because it will start slow, it always does. You do not want the chirping voices from others or even your own head swaying you from why you originally started.
Ultimately people are going to want to buy for your WHY — they will want to invest into your WHY. Products and services will always need tweaking, your mission should not.

{Q} Do you have a favorite book, website, online tool/service that you’d like to recommend to Stukent nation?! While they may be a few dollars pricier than other website builders. It comes complete with E-commerce, analytics, ultimate simplicity, and much more. I have gotten countless compliments on the ease of use of my website since Squarespace automatically optimizes your site for mobile use. They also offer a generous discount if you use a registered .edu account to sign up with.

{Q} What Stukent product did you use, and how did your experience using it help you with this new venture?

Mimic Social was the primary product that allowed me to experiment with different strategies that I could apply to my own social media marketing. The experience was challenging, but very organized, to the point, relevant.

Mimic pro was also utilized in a later semester that I enjoyed, but its structure was not directly related to my venture

{Q} Anything else we should know about your venture?

The Shirtless Chef is about more than the food. It is more so to exemplify the lifestyle that millennial entrepreneurs and creatives have chosen to pursue. There is plenty of room for all of us to succeed in our own special way — I want my brand and service to exemplify that every day.

All this talk of cooking is making me hungry! Thanks Devin for giving us a sneak peek into the kitchen of the Shirtless Chef. You can check out all that the Shirtless Chef is up to on its Facebook page and website.  

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