Students showcase talents, learn financial skills through small businesses


Photo used with permission of Elise Reade.

An example of a crocheted piece sophomore Elise Reade would sell on her business account.

     Before Etsy and Instagram, aspiring entrepreneurs would go door to door trying to sell their product and start a successful company. Recently, social media and marketplace websites have been utilized by students to establish a career through their talents and passions.  

     “I thought [starting a business] was a great idea to just show my interest,” sophomore Elise Reade said. “[Using Instagram] is a really good way to start off and figure out what you want to do in your life and how to be successful.”

     Small businesses run by students allow for them to learn about and contribute to the economy.

     “Having a baseline understanding of business is essential for any young entrepreneur,” business teacher Rebecca Medel said. “Small businesses are an integral part of local communities. They support the economy, give meaningful job opportunities and provide necessary products and services for the community they serve.”

     With this said, there is a lot of preparation that needs to go into starting a business. This includes being financially stable enough to maintain the company, ensuring the products are high quality and having some sort of background knowledge in the business field. 

     “I think the best thing for [aspiring entrepreneurs] is to take some personal finance or some sort of intro to business class so they can kind of understand the backgrounds,” business teacher Cameron Diep said. “I think those are really great ways for students to start.”

     One of the essential steps of starting a business is basing the company on something people need and would be interested in buying. Otherwise, the sales will not come and the business will be set up for failure. 

     “Conduct market research. Is there a need in the market for the product or service that you are wanting to provide?” Medel said. “Make sure, without a shadow of a doubt, that you can fill a hole in the market or compete with existing companies.”

     Reade believes that the hardest part about a business is starting it, because sales can be slow. Entrepreneurs can lose interest if they are not seeing the results they want. 

     “Just don’t give up, because starting out is hard, but once you get there, stick with it,” Reade said. 

     According to Medel, a big misconception about businesses is that students are incapable of starting one due to their age. However, she’s seen multiple student-led businesses succeed. 

     “We have students at FHS right now with thriving, successful small businesses,” Medel said. “My merchandising students run our school spirit store, ShopFHS. It is the only student-run venture at FHS.”

     Reade also started her own business on Instagram. She crochets articles of clothing and posts her creations on her business’ account. 

     “Over quarantine, I started to crochet, and I was like, ‘Well, I could sell [my creations]’, because I’m actually pretty good at it,” Reade said. 

Creations that are up for sale. (Photo from @bean.s_beads on instagram.)

     Crocheting is more of a form of relaxation to Reade than a means to earn money. Due to her passion for crocheting, she enjoys making what she sells and doesn’t feel weighed down by the work. 

     “I get a hyperfixation on [crocheting], and I just watch a show while I do it at the same time,” Reade said. “It’s really relaxing.” 

     Reade’s older sister started a business of her own, but set it up on Etsy, instead. This was one of Reade’s biggest motivations to pursue crocheting as a business. 

     “I think I started because of my sister,” Reade said. “She’s like my role model, and she thought it was a great idea.”

     Not only does Reade use Instagram to sell her products, but she also promotes her business on her other Instagram account and other social media platforms. 

     “I feel like most people have Instagram and it’s really easy to access,” Reade said. “On my main Instagram, I post stuff about my business”

     Platforms like Etsy and Instagram make starting a business more accessible for students, and allows them to treat it more like a learning experience, since there is less pressure with finances. 

     “These platforms are important because they provide an efficient way to start a business with little overhead cost associated with brick-and-mortar locations,” Medel said. “They also provide easy access to social media marketing.”

     When the pandemic began in 2020, the entire economy was negatively affected. In spite of this, more people began to utilize online marketplaces in order to continue making a living. 

     “Small businesses have taken a hit in the past 2 years, but they are integral to our local economies,” Medel said. “If you have a dream to own a small business, pursue it.”