Meet Erin Barfield ’12, Owner of Truly Yours

ErinBarfieldFor many college students, figuring out what they want to do after graduation is an intimidating thought. Fortunately, fashion enthusiast Erin Barfield figured it out the moment she came to East Carolina University.

“I’ve always had a passion for the apparel industry from a young age,” said Barfield, who graduated in 2012. “When I found out there was an apparel merchandising program at ECU I knew it was meant to be. I knew I wanted to have my own clothing store.”

Coming from a small town, it was hard for Barfield to get her hands on trendy and fashionable clothing. The idea behind her business, Truly Yours, was to give women who lived in small towns the opportunity to purchase fashionable clothes without the struggles of traveling hours to a shopping center. The creation of her online store gave women that opportunity.

Since opening in 2011, her senior year in college, Barfield’s business has blossomed. What was first an online experience has now turned into her own physical store, which opened this past fall in Greenville, NC. The lessons Barfield learned at ECU really changed her perspective of fashion and the business behind it.

“My time at ECU helped me see fashion as more of a business instead of just the fun side of it,” said Barfield. “I saw fashion as a way to make a career for myself.”

Barfield was recently the winner of the Uptown Retail Challenge, which was held by Uptown Greenville. As the winner, she received $15,000 to open her own store in downtown Greenville and $500 for advertising.

“I knew I wanted my store to be close to campus and I really wanted to be a part of the Uptown community,” said Barfield. “The retails challenge grant became available and really made the opportunity more realistic.”

Barfield’s growing business and hard earned success has been met with support from all of Pirate Nation, which has left her with nothing but gratitude.

“Thank you so much for all of your support,” said Barfield. “I have had Pirates near and far supporting my business and wishing me success. That means more to me than you will ever know!”

By Michael Avila

Networking Lunch in Greenville on December 1

Spend your lunch time with the East Carolina Alumni Association! Join us and meet fellow Pirates from around Pitt County as you expand your professional and social networks.

Our networking lunch will be in Greenville on Tuesday, December 1 at the Holiday Inn from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Holiday Inn is located on 203 Greenville Boulevard.

Featured alumni are:

  • Henry Hilton ’76, owner of Inner Banks Media
  • Amanda Tilley ’03, owner of the Greenville Krispy Kreme and the Coastal Banking Company

The cost will be $16.00 for alumni association members and $26.00 for non-members, which include lunch and beverages. Everyone attending must register by Monday, November 23. Please let us know of any special dietary needs when you register.

Attire is purple and gold business casual. Don’t forget to bring multiple business cards for our business card exchange and the opportunity to win ECU door prizes!

Our networking events are open to all alumni and friends of East Carolina. Members of the alumni association are eligible to pay a reduced price. Those who wish to join the alumni association and take advantage of member pricing on this and future events may do so directly on the event registration form available on our website. Please note that advanced registration is required before the deadline. Early registration is strongly encouraged, as space is limited depending on the venue.

Our networking events are a great way for alumni to build their professional and social networks. Each event is led by featured alumni who are leaders in their industries and communities. We hold networking events in various cities throughout the year, so be sure to check out all our events listed on our networking event page!

Upcoming Networking Events in Greenville and Raleigh

The East Carolina Alumni Association is hosting networking events in Greenville, NC and Raleigh, NC in April. Make some great connections with fellow ECU alumni and friends to build your professional and social networks! Hear from successful alumni and stay connected with your university. Featured alumni are leaders in their industries and communities. Take this opportunity to tap into the power of the Pirate alumni network!

The Greenville, NC networking lunch will be held Tuesday, April 28, 2015 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m at AJ McMurphy’s. The restaurant is located at 1914 Turnbury Drive. This event is open to all alumni and friends of East Carolina. Cost is $11.00 for Alumni Association members and $17.00 for non-members, which includes lunch and beverages. Please let us know of any special dietary needs when you register. Register by April 23.

Featured alumni will be:

  • Jeff Foster ’83, founder and attorney at Foster Fitzpatrick and member of the East Carolina Alumni Association Board of Directors
  • Diane Taylor ’06, CEO and founder of Taylor Made Publishing

The Raleigh, NC networking lunch will be held Thursday, April 30, 2015 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 18 Seaboard. The restaurant is located at 18 Seaboard Avenue, Suite 100. This event is open to all alumni and friends of East Carolina. Cost is $11.00 for Alumni Association members and $17.00 for non-members, which includes lunch and beverages. Please let us know of any special dietary needs when you register. Register by April 28.

Featured alumni will be:

  • Heather Dickson Ransom ’06, owner of Consilium Connect
  • Jeff Tippett ’91, founder of Targeted Persuasion

For both events, dress is PURPLE and GOLD business casual. Be sure to bring business cards for our business card exchange and the opportunity to win ECU door prizes.

Our networking events are open to all alumni and friends of East Carolina. Members of the alumni association are eligible to pay a reduced price. Those who wish to join the alumni association to take advantage of member pricing on these and future events may do so directly on the event registration form. Please note that advanced registration is required before the deadline. Early registration is strongly encouraged, as space is limited depending on the venue.

We hold networking events in various cities throughout the year, so be sure to check out all our events listed on our networking event page!

From West End to East Carolina and Beyond

McKenziesMill1By Jackie Drake

Brothers Justin Harris ’02 and Ryan Harris ’05 have been busy touring across the country as the country-rock band McKenzies Mill, but now they’ve found time to return to where it all began.

McKenzies Mill will return to Greenville this Saturday February 28 to perform at the Buccaneer Music Hall, a new country music venue located at 2120 E. Firetower Rd. in the Harris Teeter shopping center, formerly a bar called Live.

Originally from West End, a small town near Pinehurst, the brothers named their band McKenzies Mill after the road where they grew up. They started the band in 2005 after Ryan graduated from ECU. They released their first album in 2007 and the second in 2010.

The duo is currently working on their third album, produced by New Voice Entertainment, which recently worked with Parmalee, another band with local connections.

Justin and Ryan describe their sound as “southern fried rock ‘n roll.” The brothers reside in Nashville, TN, which is where the band is based. They mostly tour in the southeast but they have performed in about 30 states from California to New York.

McKenzies Mill has received many honors in recent years. In 2014, the Country Music Awards named the band a “New Artist to Watch.” They won the national Bud Light Battle of the Bands in 2012. They’ve performed twice in Las Vegas as the official after party band for the National Rodeo Finals. In 2011, they won Nashville’s Wild Horse Saloon Battle for the Saddle.

“Justin began playing guitar and writing songs while at ECU,” Ryan said. “I had grown up singing my whole life. So, it kind of all started hanging out with friends around ECU playing and singing songs. Shortly after my graduation, Justin had moved back home and we played a while in our hometown, and eventually moved to Nashville to pursue it on a greater scale. I love stepping on that stage and pouring my passion into singing and entertaining.”

“When people start singing songs you wrote, it’s a powerful feeling. We were hooked,” Justin said. “That’s my favorite part of being in a band, the freedom of it all, and the ability to turn an idea into a song, and to then have people like that song so much they sing it back to you… it’s a hard thing to describe.”

The first time Justin ever performed one of his original songs live was at Ham’s. While at ECU, Justin majored in business and Ryan majored in criminal justice. While the brothers are primarily focused on their music, they both feel that ECU prepared them well to pursue other careers if they ever tire of performing.

“Our uncle, who we are very close with, went to ECU, so I always gravitated towards going there. I’ve always liked to have a good time, and ECU is kind of known for that,” Justin laughed. “But really, I couldn’t be prouder that I went to ECU. All partying jokes aside, I truly love ECU for the “brotherhood” that I felt there. It’s cool meeting people on the road who went to ECU. You can feel the pride and its like you instantly bond.”

Ryan followed his uncle and older bother’s leads. “ECU had a lot of family support. I loved attending ECU. I had some of the best times of my life there. I learned to just be myself and grow as an individual. I received a great education, made a lot of really awesome friends, and matured through my experiences with others. As far as my career in music goes, meeting and connecting with people is a huge benefit.”

Justin says being back in Greenville to perform is “awesome. We had a lot of good times here and haven’t been back in a few years. We’re looking forward to visiting our old stomping grounds.”

McKenziesMill2

Alumni Open Men’s Clothing Store

By Sara Strickroot

Andrew Denton ’13 and Thomas Alligood ’13 are co-owners of Campus Corner, a high-end men’s clothing store located in downtown Greenville.

The co-owners wanted to be close to campus and be a part of the new redevelopment of downtown Greenville. According to Denton, the store attracts a good mix of students, alumni, and Greenville residents.

One of the biggest challenges the co-owners face with their business is online sale competition. “Online sales are big now for shoppers and not as many people go into stores to shop as often now,” says Denton. “We are overcoming this by starting an e-commerce website.”

Denton and Alligood were roommates at ECU where Denton majored in business and Alligood majored in industrial technology. They are currently members of Pirate Club.

“Growing up a Pirate fan and attending East Carolina sporting events made it an easy decision to attend East Carolina,” says Denton. “I love the Pirates, the education I received, and the people I met while attending ECU.”

Campus Corner owners

Andrew Denton (left) and Thomas Alligood inside their store.

Pirate Fights Human Trafficking

By Sara Strickroot

Anna Smith ’11 is the executive director and co-founder for the non-profit organization Restore One. She and her husband Chris, president and co-founder, created the anti-slavery organization in June 2012.299014_47_ed137f

Smith began her undergraduate career as a nutrition major at ECU, but due to the difficulty chemistry gave her, she changed it to social work. She also joined the Social Work Student Association. “I’d always desired to be the one who reconciles a problem or aids in meeting the needs of others. Point blank, I aspired to serve people in my daily job,” says Smith.

Her second major was religious studies and she was also a member of the Religious Studies Club. “After taking introduction into New Testament, I was hooked and took the jump, adding Religious Studies onto my track,” Smith said.

She continued, “the summer before my senior year, I interned at a Christian safe house for domestic minor sex trafficking victims. It was there I felt God calling me to fight human trafficking. That same summer, Chris was working as a youth minister. Provoked by my interest in human trafficking, he took it upon himself to research the problem. Through research, he discovered that few men were serving in modern day abolition. It was through that revelation he followed the call of God to be a man who stands up for freedom.”

On March 27, 2013, Restore One was granted 501(c)3 non-profit status, giving them the green light to progress toward opening The Anchor House. The Anchor House is the first shelter in America for sex trafficked boys ages 12-18.

Smith says, “Restore One is a ministry that seeks to open safe homes that are Christ-centered free of cost to male victims of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) and commercial sexual exploitation (CSE).”

Restore One owns land in eastern North Carolina where they plan to break ground in mid-January 2015 on the first cottage that will house four boys as well as a large main building. The complete Anchor House project consists of three cottages and one large main building built to serve a total of 12 boys.

“Today I am so very thankful for the struggle with college chemistry, for it altered the possibilities of not just my education but also my life. I am so thankful for my education at East Carolina University. I’m proud to say that I am a Pirate,” Smith says.

Alumnus’ Business Honored

SculleryMattA scullery is a small room used for washing dishes, but in Greenville, The Scullery means a great place to meet at a successful local restaurant.

The Scullery was named Greenville’s first Small Business of the Year by Uptown Greenville at the organization’s annual State of the District meeting on October 28.

“I was thrilled. It was a real honor to be recognized in that way among so many great businesses. It was a really nice surprise,” said owner Matt Scully ’04.

Since opening in June 2011, the Scullery has become a hub of downtown Greenville, serving breakfast and lunch along with fresh roasted coffee and homemade ice cream. The Scullery doubled its sales for the first two years, and business is still growing. ECU faculty, staff, students, and alumni are a big part of The Scullery’s clientele.

“They’ve been a huge support,” Matt said. “They were a big reason why we were able to start with so little; we already had a supportive customer base. We love seeing ECU faculty and students come in and have a place to meet and enjoy it.”

Matt and his wife Erin both graduated from the School of Music at ECU. They lived in New Orleans for a time, where Matt sang opera until Hurricane Katrina sent them back home to eastern North Carolina. They started catering on the side for friends and their church, until they got funding to open a place of their own from the Greenville Revitalization Commission.

“We’re so grateful to this community. We just want to give back,” Matt says. “We were taken care of when we were in need. It feels good to be able to provide something to the community that helped us.”

Matt says the education he received at ECU has helped him throughout this venture. “It’s funny, I have a music degree and I run a restaurant, but my degree definitely prepared me. Running a restaurant is somewhat like performance art. You have to be calm under pressure when everyone is watching. I still really do utilize a lot of those skills. But the whole college experience taught me the value of hard work.”

Matt enjoys working so close to where he went to college, and being part of a vibrant and growing downtown. “It’s a really exciting time to be in downtown Greenville.”