Decision Sciences class helps local business owner

Cigi England, owner of Cigi's Boutique and 2006 Tennessee Tech graduate, looks over her website with Doc Wells, Decision Sciences professor.

COOKEVILLE – The capstone project of a Tennessee Tech Decision Sciences class ended up being critical to the survival of one local business.

Students in Doc Wells’ DS4550 2018 class helped local business owner and 2006 graduate of Tech’s fashion merchandising and design program Cigi England set up a website for her business, Cigi’s Boutique.

“Doc and Susan Wells reached out to me two years ago about the capstone project,” said England. “They wanted to know if there were any projects that a group could create or work on to help grow my business. At that time, I had been considering adding a website, but it kept getting moved further and further down my ‘to-do’ list.”

Having no knowledge of how to build a website, she had gotten a few quotes and all were more than she could afford at the time, so they decided this would be the students’ project.

“I was so grateful,” England said. “The students did an amazing job. Not only was the website user friendly for my customers, it was also easy for me.”

Business management/business information technology graduates Carson Cook, Ethan Shaw, Eric Williams and Ethan Julian met with England to develop a website for her business.

“Students gather in groups of four to tackle a real-world project,” Wells said. “It spans over two semesters and gives them real world experiences in any problems they may encounter while doing a project.”

It gives students a chance to be creative in coming up with a project – and implementing it – as well.

This had been in the works well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing businesses to shut down. But thanks to this website development, she was able to keep her business going – and get new customers from all over the world.

“The website kept me afloat during the mandated shutdown,” she said. “Being able to communicate and sell to my customers was crucial for my business to thrive during this time.”

These projects are done every year in the class, with students tasked to do what they are skilled in, such as programming, networking and database development, among other things.

“After the first few days of launching her website, she got customers from all over the world,” Wells said.

England also had something else starting to roll right before COVID hit.

“Right before the COVID situation, the website played a major role in raising more than $17,000 for local residents affected by the March 3 tornado,” she said. “Through social media, I promoted my line of ‘There’s Only One Cookeville’ shirts, signs, bracelets and hats with 100% of the proceeds going to the official storm fund at Bank of Putnam County.”

She shipped those items all over Tennessee and to nine other states, including New York and California.

“So not only did this website keep my business going, it made a HUGE impact on our community,” she said. “I am forever grateful to Doc and Susan and the amazing capstone project group.”

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