NSCM Alumna Creates Positive Online Environment With New Venture

In a world that’s increasingly divided, the one thing everyone can agree on is the need for more unity.

That’s the spark behind a new business venture by Sadie Higgins ‘06, an entrepreneur and alumna of the Nicholson School of Communication and Media. Higgins recently launched a website that allows users to create a virtual scrapbook of positive messages to encourage people going through both high points and tough times.

It’s called Palonka, a word Higgins learned when she was given small handwritten notes of encouragement during youth ministry retreats as a teenager. Her website, palonka.com, collects notes, gifs, videos and photos from multiple people, then emails it as a package to someone on a designated time and date. Higgins sees these marking milestones like retirement and birthdays, as well as events like divorce or death.

“A client once compared this to a big electronic love bomb,” Higgins said. “There’s a lot of negativity online right now, so this is an antidote of sorts.”

Higgins’ background at UCF prepared for her a business founded on the power of words. An interpersonal communications major, Higgins spent her four years as a sports reporter. She remembers gifted teachers passionate about their subjects and excellent mentors in the athletics department guiding her growth.

Higgins headed to a writing job in Boston after graduation, then eventually her first business, Pluck. The latter is an eyebrow-shaping company that delivers on-site services. When quarantine arrived in early 2020, a business that relied on close-up interaction was unsustainable. So she acted on an idea she had been musing over for years and that became Palonka.

Palonka is in the early stages still, and is completely free while Higgins tests the demand for the service and develops auxiliary products. She’s optimistic though about the need for some bright spots in an increasingly fractured online community.

“It’s what the world needs right now,” Higgins said.




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