Fall Mag 2015: For Adrienne Scrima, Her Luck Came In Finding Clovers
Note: This piece ran as a part of the Empire State Tribune's Fall 2015 Magazine.
Adrienne Scrima, an NYC Semester in Journalism student at The King’s College, eats 99-cent pizza, listens to podcasts on the subway and attends off-off Broadway shows. It’s her business in selling four-leaf clovers that makes her a more unusual member of the King’s community.
Scrima’s business began in 2013 when she discovered a bounty of four-leaf clovers in her backyard: 17 in one patch. During this aha! moment, she realized she could make some money from this discovery. She started intentionally searching, finding and plucking the clovers before selling them online. She’s become a small-scale clover tycoon. In the last two years, Scrima has sold roughly 280 four-leaf clovers on sites like Etsy and Amazon for prices ranging from $4 to $12.
According to Scrima, top clover entrepreneurs have a special talent for seeing the clovers. It boils down to tenacity, obsession and talent more than luck. “No matter where I am, I am always unconsciously looking for clovers,” she said. “It’s a weird thing where I just find them. I guess I have a trained eye.”
Scrima was born in Staten Island, New York. When she was 10, her family moved to Orange County, New York, which is a 90 minute drive north of New York City. Her backyard was rich with clovers, spurring spontaneous family competitions to see who could find the most. As they sat outside having dinner, a family member would sometimes spot a four-leaf clover and within seconds, others would compete to find more. Scrima seemed to always have the most luck in finding clovers during these occasional family tournaments.
As she amassed a small collection of clovers, she started putting them in a water bottle to keep them from shriveling. Then she lays them on a piece of paper and presses under a small rock. When flat and dry, she then presses them in a book (a Bible actually) to flatten them even more.
After several years of harvests, Scrima realized she had a fantastic collection of four-leaf clovers. She separated the premium specimens from the discards and decided to market and sell the good ones. When she gets an order, she puts the clover in between pieces of cereal box cardboard and sends them off in a regular envelope with a short note of instructions for customers on how they can care for their clovers.
Scrima sells her clovers on Etsy, Amazon and other platforms depending on supply and demand fluctuations in the four-leaf clover market. She first opened an Etsy shop in June 2013 and named her business I Picked This Four You. When another seller popped up and began selling raw clovers, she saw competition drive the price down to $4 a clover on Etsy.
She also maintains an Amazon account, where she sells the clovers for $7. She receives orders from both channels and adjusts supply depending on demand and shipping costs. “You would be surprised at what sells,” Scrima said. According to comments on the Facebook page for her business, people order the clovers for U.S. soldiers in the Middle East or to send along with well wishes for loved ones.
“Could use the luck out here in Afghanistan! So stoked you do this, Thanks!” wrote one customer following a clover order.
While she has received five-star reviews on Etsy, her business profile on Amazon has been more challenging. Only one person has rated her business on Amazon and gave her one star. “Expecting the same as shown in the picture,” wrote the disgruntled customer.
“I give the disclaimer on Etsy that the clover I send isn’t going to be the same clover in the picture,” Scrima said. She plans to add the same disclaimer on Amazon. She does write on Amazon: “No guarantee of luck is promised.”
Although she didn’t expect her business to take off as it has, she has never been opposed to the idea of making money. As an individual with an entrepreneurial streak, she is trying to improve her business as it grows. She’s trying to learn how to better satisfy customers.
While she has accumulated much success from her business, she doesn’t intend on being an entrepreneur but a journalist in the long term. She plans to continue her online clover store and she has hundreds of clovers in her inventory, waiting to be sold when market conditions are ripe. But, for her vocation, she feels more inclined to invest in her gifts of writing and reporting.
As an avid reader growing up, she realized as a senior in high school that she enjoyed writing. She took a creative writing class and a college writing course then and has continued pursuing writing opportunities throughout college. “Hopefully I’ll work at some publication, reporting and doing feature writing,” she said.
Scrima is currently a senior at Grove City College where she will obtain her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies in December. As a Communication Studies major, she didn’t have a particular focus. When the opportunity presented itself to study journalism through the New York City Semester in Journalism Program at King’s, she applied right away.
She is part of the inaugural class of NYCJ (full disclosure: I am also a classmate in NYCJ) students this semester. Scrima is a current intern for OnFaith, an online faith-based publication. OnFaith is attached to a startup with a few revenue generating business models. She is also taking Professor Paul Glader’s course in Entrepreneurial Journalism and the Future at King’s, which teaches students to be entrepreneurs as individual journalists and as journalists within media organizations.
During her time at King’s, Scrima has participated in the New York Fashion Week show as a volunteer and has attended events with her house, Queen Elizabeth I. She has attended many theater productions, museums and live-show tapings in New York. She has also toured many newsrooms as part of the NYCJ program. “King’s has offered me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had as a common New Yorker,” she said.
Profits from her clover business go to her personal spending account and dollar-pizza fund. “I got $80 one week while here in New York and I was like ‘Thank you God!’ because that was the only income I have had while being here,” she said. Scrima also started a business selling button rings, a form of jewelry that she created, which she sells on Instagram and in person. She also sells used clothing over Instagram. Profits from these businesses go to charity causes related to events where she sells them, such as Ugandan Water Project, Broken Hope (which raises awareness of drug and alcohol abuse) and Made in a Free World (an ethical clothing charity).
Though some may find her lucky, she thinks of her clover business as a mere hobby. For one thing, it’s hard to scale and, therefore, to sustain full-time employment. The demand also seems limited, as four-leaf clover customers may be rarer than the clovers themselves.
But her success and business savvy has been recognized in a Millennial Entrepreneurial Blog at her home institution, Grove City College. The Collegian, the student newspaper at Grove City, has profiled her. And she got a shout out when Professor Paul Glader publicly gave one of her clovers to Belfast-based Sky News broadcaster David Blevins when he spoke at the King’s campus on October 21.