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Being offered a job fresh out of college is the dream for most students. But one UCF alumna took that goal a step further.

With business degree in hand and her parents’ support guiding her, Francesca Fidanzi turned her youth hobbies into her adult career. At 22, Fidanzi opened her first Via Francesca store in Orlando just a month after graduation.

The International Drive store, which opened in June and features handmade jewelry and handcrafted goods, comes after Fidanzi started the business online through Esty in 2012.

“When graduation was nearing, I decided it was time to take the next step,” Fidanzi said. “The Internet is a great selling tool, but I love the face-to-face interaction that takes place in the store.”

From hand-stamped gifts to painted glassware, Via Francesca item prices start from about $5 and are personalized to the customer’s preference. College students and military members also get a 10 percent discount.

“I keep most of my pieces very simple and affordable so customers can wear a few at a time,” Fidanzi said.

With inspirations from cultural symbols, healing stones, crystals and nature, the former Knight is drawn to unique items with meaning. From crafting to business, Fidanzi’s parents have been her supporters and source of constant positivity in her life. Coming from a business-oriented background, Fidanzi grew up with entrepreneur parents and an early exposure to the business world, including a middle school summer entrepreneur camp.

“We’re cheering her on. She’s always been driven. She just went after it full force,” her dad Mario said. “[Her] business has continued to thrive and she has sold in about 25 countries.”

Fidanzi said starting a business while still in college and working seemed “nearly impossible.” There are days when shutting down her business and applying for a nine-to-five job seems tempting, but with her parents by her side, she’s overcome the worries and looks toward the more positive side of things.

“[They] continue to remind me that everything in life is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” she said. “… Positivity and perseverance will allow me to take Via Francesca as far as I want it to go.”

Via Francesca is located in Artegon Marketplace at 5250 International Drive, Orlando. To learn more about the store, visit www.viafrancesca.com.

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Marina Guerges is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter @marinaguerges or email her at MarinaG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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