Student-Run Business in Edinboro

Category:  News
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 at 6:12 PM

“I remember the first time I worked hard enough and had enough money to buy my own groceries,” he said. “That was a great day for me.”

Edinboro student, Alan Soltys, did everything from telemarketing and driving ambulances to cleaning bathrooms and buffing floors before deciding to return to a college campus and start his own business.

“I’ve basically done every single menial job there is to do because I was forced to provide for my family,” Soltys said.

“That was my life.”

Although now in his 40s, Soltys was married around age 20 and had his first child a year later; he had the second a few years afterwards.

At one time, he would gather up change to make a weekly trip to Dunkin Donuts, counting every penny, nickel and dime to reach $1.50, the amount they needed to buy a half dozen donuts.

After graduating high school, Soltys, 18 at the time, moved to Boston to attend college, but after a semester, he dropped out.

“I grew up with a lot of talent, [and] I have a photographic memory,” he said. “[But] I didn’t know what I was doing.”

He found a job and some roommates. Then, began smoking marijuana.

“I smoked marijuana one time,” he said, “for 10 years straight.”

“What happened to me is that all the promise I had — my memory, my ability to talk to people, and all those things — kind of fell into the background. I really just became this ‘schlub’ that sat on the couch, ate Chinese food, and smoked marijuana.”

After some point, he joined the Navy, but was dismissed with a hardship discharge.

“And then I didn’t know what to do,” Soltys said.

That’s when he first moved to Meadville and found a job driving an ambulance. Most times, he was working two jobs at a time in order to raise three children. His father, who drove trucks for a living, had taught Soltys the importance of hard work.

“I am grateful for that,” Soltys said. “I could always get another job; I would tell people I would do whatever.”

During this time, he tried to make money online. “I got duped so many times, and I realized the Internet wasn’t made so the little guy could make money,” he said.

But then, he came up with the idea of Loklfolk, and while he doesn’t know if he will make any profit from it, he has found something he loves: providing others a way to do something they love.

Loklfolk Community Growth Group is a limited liability company that Soltys formed in March 2013. Its mission is to “rebuild community by building unity.” He calls it the “people’s corporation.”

“I think Loklfolk is a great idea. I think brother, Alan Soltys, has a great grip on what he’s thinking about, and it would benefit the community,” said Toney Wofford of Edinboro. “I think Loklfolk is a great way to raise our community back up.”

Loklfolk is a membership site where individuals will pay $10 dollars a month tointeract with the site however they see fit. There are sections to the site like Photofolk for photographers, Loklfocus for bloggers, and Quella for those who enjoy crafting.

“People should be able to do the things that they love to do,” Soltys said.

The reason members will pay $10 to be part of the site is to help even more people, in particular volunteer firefighters.

“We can do something by ourselves, but we could do anything together,” Soltys said. “It’s just that simple. There’s nothing we wouldn’t be able to do.”

The money raised through the site could be donated to organizations that are working to better the community.

Recently, school work has kept him from devoting all his time to Loklfolk, but Soltys has found a way to combine the two.

During the fall 2015 semester, he worked with others in Introduction to Public Relations to create a public relations campaign for Loklfolk, a campaign that he plans to implement over the course of this semester before his graduation in May.

“I put more time into that than school work,” he said.

But it is something he is passionate about.

“I want to give people an opportunity to be who they want to be, who they are,” he said.

Tracy Geibel is the executive editor for The Spectator and she can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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