startUP biz plans still buzzing

The school year has wrapped up for this year’s class of Monroe County startUP students just like it has for pupils in traditional classes, but the work continues for some as they look to grow their businesses. 

Schubie Snacks

Malia Kossina

Columbia High School Class of 2021 graduate Malia Kossina is looking to take her business to another state. 

She is attending Mississippi College in the fall on a golf scholarship, and she plans to bring some of the 10-ounce bags of packaged beef smokies with her to try and sell them there. 

“I don’t plan on stopping,” Kossina said of her business. 

Kossina, who served as class chief operating officer, joined startUP this year to gain experience before she goes to college. 

“I knew I wanted to go into business in college, but I didn’t know any specifics of it and I didn’t want to show up to college and have no experience or knowledge about business,” she explained.

Kossina originally had the idea for Schubie Snacks, which she makes with Schubert’s Smokehouse in Millstadt, before she even joined startUP. 

When playing a seven-hour round of golf for the CHS team during her junior year, Kossina had the urge for a snack to help keep her energy up in the midst of the marathon day. 

The idea lodged itself in the back of her mind, but it returned to the front in January as startUP students began devising individual business ideas. 

“I found myself always coming back to it,” Kossina said. “Golf is something I’m very passionate about, so if I had done it with anything else I don’t think I would have had true passion for it and really enjoyed it. I wanted to do something that was important to me that I enjoyed.”

Her plan originally was to sell her product at local golf courses, a few of which carry Schubie Snacks, but Kossina realized she should not limit herself when customers wanted to buy the food in other places. 

That added a bit to her workload. 

To make Schubie Snacks, Kossina worked with Schubert’s, which already made the beef smokies and had several flavors. 

Kossina cultivated the relationship and chose the original, hot pepper cheese, cheddar and sweet German flavors for her business. 

She also worked with an out-of-state business to create a professional label for her product. 

“Schubert’s handled kind of all the meat stuff. I handled the selling of it and the labels,” Kossina summarized. 

With her business experience and the class as a whole, Kossina said the experience proved invaluable. 

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Now that we’re not going, I miss it so much,” she said. “It was so life-changing and encouraging. The connections that you make and the people that you meet who are just rooting for you, it’s awesome.”

To learn more about Schubie Snacks, visit or find the business on Instagram.

Assassinz Customz

Lexi Howard

Waterloo High School Class of 2021 graduate Lexi Howard went even farther afield than Millstadt to find inspiration for her business. 

She is the owner of Assassinz Customz, an online retail store that sells a car accessory called a Tsurikawa. 

“I’m a car girl, so I love cars, specifically Japanese cars,” Howard explained. “It’s a tradition to own a Tsurikawa and put it on your car as a show of respect to the Japanese car community in the ‘90s.”

In that time in Japan, car enthusiasts would steal handles off trains and hang them on cars as an act of protest, but the decorations have evolved into all sorts of shapes and types. 

For instance, Howard said she can make her products in numerous colors, use glitter, put flowers inside of them and install LED lights. One of her most popular offerings is a heart-shaped Tsurikawa. 

“I thought it was a good business to go into because the car market is a huge market,” Howard noted. “Everybody spends money on everything for their car, even the little stuff like a Tsurikawa.”

Pictured is one of the Tsurikawas (proounced sir-a-ka-wa) Lexi Howard makes as part of her business. 

When she joined the class, Howard had business experience many of her peers did not. 

She has already owned four businesses – one that made bows for hair, a make-up brand, a photography company and one that offers softball pitching instructions. 

But Howard was hungry for more knowledge. 

“I’d already taken all the business classes at my high school, and I just wanted to further my education,” she said. 

Howard’s business savvy came in handy when it came time to create her product. 

She starts by using a silicone mold she puts in a plastic food container. Then, using a 3-D printer, she prints whatever shape the Tsurikawa will be in and sands it down. 

She pours silicone in the container and lets it dry for a day or two.

Once that process has finished, Howard cuts the mold open and removes the 3-D print. Using an epoxy-based solution, she puts that into the mold using a syringe. 

After a few days, the Tsurikawa is dry and done after only about 10 minutes of work from Howard. 

“I can do just about anything that I want to,” she said of customization options. “There’s a lot of stuff you can do with epoxy.”

Howard has a full-ride softball scholarship to Central Methodist University this fall, but she has partnered with her best friend and has offered partnership with some St. Louis car crews, so other people can help her keep the business going while she is in school.

 To find out more, visit assassinzcz on Instagram or go to

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James Moss

James is an alumni of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where he graduated summa cum laude with degrees in mass communications and applied communications studies. While in school, he interned at two newspapers and worked at a local grocery store to pay for his education. When not working for the Republic-Times, he enjoys watching movies, reading, playing video games and spending time with his friends.
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