Forged During a Pandemic - Brother Creates a Better Made-In-America Marketplace

Sep 18, 2020 – Colin Rice, Georgia, recently created Mill & Oak, an online marketplace for American-made goods.

In the interview below, Colin discusses his new venture, and the bravery it takes to start a business during a global pandemic. 

Colin RiceQ: How did you come up with the idea for Mill & Oak
A: The idea was the easy part! As the lockdown quickly changed the way of life of many of my friends and family, I would often have conversations about what could be done to support local businesses, especially those who made their products in America. Even though there were places online where American-made goods were sold, I thought I could bring something new and modern to the experience, taking advantage of some of the new innovations in e-commerce that have happened in the last few years. I saw the opportunity to change the perception around buying American-made products. 

Q: What motivates you to continue growing your business during today's circumstances? 
A: If I've learned anything this year, it's that the only constant is change. Every year will bring new challenges for you and your business, and staying focused on your mission is key. I know that my job with Mill & Oak is to first and foremost provide value to the makers who are building incredible products across the country. Staying true to why I started keeps me going. 

Q: What was your time as a collegiate Deltasig like and how did that prepare you for your professional journey? 
A: I owe so much of my professional development to Delta Sigma Pi. The foundation Deltasig gives is professionalism, relationship-building and community advocacy really echoes the core tenet's of Mill & Oak's mission and values, and set me up for success in my career. 

Q: What has been your career path since graduation? 
A: Since graduating from the University of Georgia I've been fortunate enough to spend the last two years at a large management consulting firm. I recently transitioned to a strategy role at a growing digital agency in NYC. The pandemic has brought plenty of uncertainty in my career goals and expectations, but I've been fortunate to maintain my employment during this confusing and difficult time.

Q: What is your philosophy when it comes to business? 
A: In the beginning, like with any new business, there was a lot of uncertainty around what would drive new features and how I would promote the platform. But once I started having conversations with makers about potentially listing their products on the site, the mission quickly became about them and their stories. I'll often ask myself, "How does what I'm doing improve the experience for the makers on Oak & Mill? What is the best possible way that I can provide value to the business owners who've trusted me with their products?" At Oak & Mill, we have an uncompromising commitment to our makers, and they guide every move we make as a company. 

Q: What advice do you have for current college students and young entrepreneurs? 
A: Take more chances! I would say the biggest mistake you can make is being so afraid of making mistakes that you never end up taking a massive chance that could change your life. You have to take big leaps in faith and in entrepreneurship to really see what you're capable of accomplishing.

  • Deltasig Spotlight