Abby VanMuijen Shares Entrepreneur Experiences with Students

By Jacque Peacock, Staff Writer

// Abby VanMuijen, a University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) alumna, spoke about their academic and professional experiences during the third installment of the Women in Leadership series on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

   The series, organized by Acalanes High School Associate Principal Andrea Powers and Leadership teacher Katherine Walton, aims to inform students about how they can attain their ambitions. 

   “Powers and I value having real, honest conversations with powerhouse people in our community who are doing incredible work as women and as leaders,” Walton said.

   VanMuijen began the discussion by talking about their academic experiences at UC Berkeley. They originally planned to major in English and become a teacher, but their plans changed after they took a class called Intro to Environmental Design.

   “[The teachers] taught us how to draw. My brain exploded and I was like, ‘this is the best thing ever. I can draw and communicate with a whole different type of language’, and very quickly, my whole path sort of changed,” VanMuijen said in the meeting.

   The class set the foundation for VanMuijen’s future career. They became interested in converting words into drawings as well as videos. VanMuijen’s videos drew the attention of their peers, and they realized that their work could become a bigger production. 

   VanMuijen founded RogueMark Studios in late 2014. After managing the business from their childhood home for some time, they relocated their company to Berkeley. 

   During their time there, they had a mentor, Ananya Roy, who helped them define mentorship and supplied them with core values they would use later at RogueMark Studios.

   “When we would work together, she would always ask for my opinion, always ask me questions, always make me explain why I thought something. She was testing and pushing me, but she also genuinely wanted to learn from me. She instilled that in me; there’s not a power dynamic in mentorship,” VanMuijen said.

   Many students reflected on Roy’s teachings and compared it to their personal lives. 

   “I’ve found how successful [the Student Life Leadership Board] and I can be when planning events for Acalanes when we all work together and give equal input. My board has done such a great job at fostering an environment where everyone feels that their opinion and work is just as important as anyone else’s,” sophomore Sarah McCarthy said.

   Overall, most attendees admired VanMuijen’s determination to reach their goals as they described their journey to RogueMarks Studios. 

   “Their story about how they changed their career path completely and didn’t give up on their passion is something that reminds me of a great leader. Having the mindset and motivation to keep accomplishing your goals is something that I aspire to have,” sophomore Martha Burns said.

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