Students find independence and new skills by starting businesses


Photo by Gabriel de Souza

Caleb Bautista, junior, stands near his business’ advertisement that he proudly displays on his car.

Gabriel de Souza, Editor-in-Chief

As OHS students inch closer and closer to adulthood, many are eager to step foot into the real world by contributing their time, resources, and skills to their own businesses. Student entrepreneurs are making a difference in the lives of their neighbors, their community, and people with similar interests. From a pet waste clean-up service to crocheted ornaments, students across campus are commiting time and energy to starting their own businesses.

Students are helping the community solve problems and earning money while doing so.

“My business is a pet waste clean-up service that I started in 2017. I go up to people’s houses and I pick up after their dogs once a week,” said Caleb Bautista, junior.

Often, what inspires students to branch out and start their own business is the yearning for financial independence from their parents and people around them.

“There was this certain lego set I wanted at the time. I think it was the Lego Saturn V—I was 12 [years old] so that was what was most important to me,” Bautista said. “[The lego set] was $120, and I did not have that kind of money.”

Students like Bautista are able to take the skills they already have to start their companies. It may be a slow start, but eventually, if enough effort is put in, success may come.

“I was like, ‘what’s something I can do well?’” Bautista said. “I could pick up dog poop pretty well because that’s what I did at my house for chores. I started out [by] going door to door around my neighborhood and I got one client. That’s how I started out, I had one client for three months.”

Entrepreneurs face many challenges as they create inventory and expand their businesses.

“Making inventory and promoting the products has definitely been the biggest challenge,” said Ilyana Williams, sophomore. “When making prices for [the products], [I] have to weigh the yarn as [I’m] making the very first product. It’s very time consuming and there’s a lot of math.”

Williams, who operates an Etsy shop that sells crocheted ornaments and miniature stuffed animals, finds certain aspects of being a small business demanding.

“It can be more stressful sometimes,” Williams said. “Since I’m the only one doing it, I don’t have anyone to rely on.”

Other challenges can arise for students with small businesses that service customers on a monthly or weekly basis.

“When someone cancels, that’s an automatic decrease in income, so [I] have to find a [new] client pretty quickly in order to sustain [my] income,” Bautista said. “If I have two clients cancel at the same time, for me that’s $120 I’m no longer getting. It’s hard to find a new client immediately.”

For Daniel Broadstock, senior, who resells sneakers on platforms like Ebay and StockX, the biggest challenge was obtaining the funds to start the business.

“In the beginning, finding capital and working [my] way up [was the biggest challenge I faced],” Broadstock said.

Through the challenges, students are able to find support from the people closest to them.

“My parents gave me a little bit of money in the beginning and they were supportive all the way through [by] helping me out and just supporting me through the process,” Broadstock said.

Not only do parents aid in the process of starting a business, but grandparents do as well.

“My grandparents ask their friends if they want [to buy the crochets]; they helped me get my first customers that way,” Williams said. 

The families of OHS’ aspiring business leaders also help in the development of skills necessary in customer relations.

“When I was 12 [years old], I didn’t have very good business management skills, so my mom did most of it,” Bautista said. “It slowly progressed to me having all the responsibilities. [My mom] gave me a backbone of support in the beginning to let me get started.”

Students are using their businesses to strengthen the community and make valuable differences for people in need of support.

“My mom is a nurse for high-risk pregnant women. I make a [crochet] bee and she gives it to [her patients]. It’s like a first toy for their baby,” Williams said.

The benefits of being their own bosses allows students to be more independent and have freedom while still maintaining an income. 

“I decide my own hours. I decide when I can work and when I need to work, and if I need to cancel, I can cancel. I’m not constrained to someone else’s schedule,” Bautistsa said. 

Through the start of their businesses, some students have been able to explore their interests further and have found a sense of community.

“I find it to be rewarding because I’ve found other people through crocheting and I’ve joined crochet groups through the internet and social media,” Williams said. “I find other people that share my passion and then I learn new [types of] stitches. It’s a very supportive community because you can comment and ask what’s the best type of yarn and everybody responds. It’s very uplifting.”

The invaluable skills and experiences students are getting while running their businesses will allow for a variety of different opportunities and options as they grow.

“I’ve gained a lot of money management, business management, and customer service [skills],” Bautista said. “I’m interested in engineering, so If I wanted to start my own welding company and—when I’m older—an engineering firm, I’ll have these skills.”