(Photographed by Jagan Devisetty)

Sanjana Medisetty, pictured center

As an only child receiving her parents’ undivided attention, Sanjana Medisetty was constantly looking for creative outlets to pursue her interests. Always in ‘exploration mode’, after attending the same school for 18 years, she was looking for something different. Signing up for anything she could, she participated in sports, music, and dance throughout her childhood.

Although being an only child has its drawbacks, her parents forced her to experience different things, which helped define her self-identity. Experimentation became a staple in the Medisetty household, teaching Sanjana when and how to persist or quit.

“I learned things by myself without always being dependent on someone. They created a friendly, free environment while pushing me enough to try new things. [From that experience] I was able to understand what my strengths and weaknesses are.”

At first, she thought she wanted to become a scientist or fashion designer. Once she reached eighth grade, it became clear entrepreneurship was her passion.

“I have the resources, time, and talent to do something. That’s when things started to shift. I was really able to establish a persona for myself.”

Unknown to Sanjana, her dream of becoming a fashion designer would take shape with the help of entrepreneurship just two years later.

Despite her personal drive, the path forward was not always clear. After watching small businesses grow on TikTok, she discovered an opportunity to create real change, and started an Etsy shop her freshman year. Seeking to team-up with a friend, Sanjana combined their interests to see if they could ‘make something bigger’ together. Check out her latest TikTok.

Using her personal experience as a high school student, the idea of graphic t-shirts just ‘popped up’. DIY gives you ‘a lot of freedom’; that flexible mentality persuaded her parents to financially back the business and became a core value of the company, Verna Designs.

Determined to differentiate her products and do the work herself, Medisetty used her own resources to purchase cotton t-shirts, craft designs, plan, photograph, and market products online. When she first started, Medisetty made a lot of assumptions about how to run her business. At first, she considered making a website on Shopify and running everything on her own. After talking to different business owners and parents, they urged her to test and get confirmation from the market instead of making assumptions up front. However, it wasn’t until the Diamond Challenge that Sanjana realized the importance of market validation, setting the stage for future business success.