It all started with a missing textbook and spilled apple juice at an Alvin Community College class that eventually blossomed into a friendship and then a business partnership.
When Samantha Maddox showed up to her Paralegal class without her book one day in 2016, she asked to look on with classmate Zoe Trang Ulrickson. Ulrickson later accidentally spilt apple juice all over the book and their work, she said she panicked. Maddox sprung into “Mom-mode” and cleaned it up quickly.
“Luckily for me, that little incident didn’t hinder her from wanting to work with me again,” Ulrickson said. “She ended up sitting next to me for the rest of the semester. After that, we took every class together and have been actual best friends ever since. Our friendship changed my life, and I don’t think I would be the person I am today without her.”
“We bonded over food and our love for our paralegal professor,” Maddox said. “I consider Zoe an extension of my family and my children love her.”
As their friendship grew, Ulrickson and Maddox recently decided to go into business together and opened their boutique ZOMADD in downtown Alvin in August. The store features contemporary women’s clothing, shoes and accessories.
Their journey from friends to business partners started with a personal discovery, they said.
“Zoe and I got bored during the pandemic around October 2020 and started shopping at all the local boutiques as a way to just get out of the house,” Maddox said. “It became sort of a hobby and we would take weekend trips boutique-ing.”
Making all of those trips inspired them and they felt that Alvin could use the same type of business in the community.
“We’d often talk about how cool it would be to have our own boutique,” Ulrickson said. “Honestly, I think at first it was more of a joke than anything.”
But as they joked about starting a business, there was always a hint of realism to their discussion, she said.
“We saw a need in Alvin for something like ZOMADD,” Ulrickson said.
Their original vision was to open an online shop to offer their boutique products. But then they found a space in Downtown Alvin on Gordon Street and fell in love with it, they said.
“Alvin has been the core of our friendship, Samantha’s life, and realistically, it was a no brainer,” Ulrickson said. “We went from planning to have an online store, to signing a lease on a storefront in just ten short days. We had absolutely nothing besides a building and a dream. We quickly hit the ground running.”
While their friendship led them to becoming entrepreneurs, their paths in education diverged. Maddox finished her Associate Degree in Paralegal studies and works as a paralegal for the City of Alvin. Ulrickson is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations with a minor in Marketing.
ACC helped Maddox get into the workforce which helped paved the way to starting her own business, she said.
“The knowledge and skills I gained from my time at ACC allowed me to advance in both life and career settings,” Maddox said. “ACC also built the foundation of mine and Zoe’s friendship, which ultimately lead to the creation of ZOMADD.”
Ulrickson said attending ACC was her first positive experience with higher education and it gave her the confidence to pursue a degree and start her business.
“In all honesty, I didn’t believe I had what it would take to obtain a higher level of education beyond an associate’s degree, let alone be successful at anything,” she said. “After two years at ACC, I realized that I was capable of so much more than I had previously believed and decided to pursue a higher level of education. From then on, I have always pushed myself to be better and to do better, even when the feat seems tough.”