Finding success in new business ventures

Gone are the days of the lemonade stand, here are the days of Etsy, Instagram

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As a high school student, teens often look for a source of income if they don’t have a job or meet the requirements for one. They turn to small business platforms like Instagram or Etsy to make handmade goods or provide services that express their talents. From bakers, to nail artists, to graphic designers, these students are cultivating their own businesses.

“I wanted to start my business because it was a hobby of mine to bake with my family. We make popular Filipino cookies called crinkle cookies, in flavors of chocolate, ube, and red velvet,” Aking Kitchen owner Hanna Bonife said. “I like making money and receiving feedback from my customers, and seeing them enjoy home baked goods which are better than store-bought.”

Promoting a business is essential to building a reliable clientele, and social media platforms allow owners to publicize their business.

“I started posting as much as possible on social media,” shirt designer Ethan Briones said. “Getting as much attention as possible, and getting sales. Also, advertising and just getting the word out to friends and family to build an audience of buyers. I sometimes also struggle with impressions, which are advertisements on someone else’s screen of my work, so it can be hard for people to see it or like my posts.”

Businesses aren’t always successful without the effort, meaning students end up balancing responsibilities with school, sports and extracurricular activities.

“It is definitely hard because I have other things besides my business, like school,” nail technician Mia Lagunas said. “I schedule my clients Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday during the month, and I usually have two appointments a day which last up to two hours. It just depends on the design and length they are getting because some take longer than others, but after that I don’t have much time to do school work. I end up doing my homework in a rush, or having to stay up later to finish the work, plus catching up on missing assignments.”

The production process requires creativity and efficiency to create the best quality product for the consumer.

“Once I get an order, I pull the batches of dough from the freezer. Most of the time we get multiple orders at one time so we bake them all 2-5 hours before the customer picks them up,” Bonife said. “I then bake them, decorate them, and then decorate the packaging we put the cookies in, and the customer will receive their cookies. I make large batches of dough which takes me a couple hours, then I portion them and freeze them to use later.”

Like other jobs, businesses are subject to challenges or bumps in the road. Overcoming those challenges improves the business and quality of service.

“Speaking up is definitely a challenge I had to overcome,” Lagunas said. “I’m not very social, so making conversation with my client [is a struggle], and being honest with telling them I could or could not do a design that might be too complicated.”

Fortunately, these student business owners have found a supportive community within their environment to help develop the creative process.

“I let my friends and family know through social media and they always support me,” Briones said. “They will post my products on their social media to support my brand. My family helps by buying me clothes, setting up those crucial networking interactions, and talking to others about my business and goals.”

Starting a business at a young age is never easy, but the skills that are learned will hopefully benefit them long-term.

“[In the future], I think I want to become a psychologist or lawyer,” Bonife said. “My communication and hard work I developed will help me in the future. I am grateful for the income I am making, so I can start saving for college, and the experience of working with other people will help me in the long run.”