The surge of new, innovative entrepreneurs looking for ways to improve people’s lives during the Coronavirus pandemic came with an increase in an unexpected category of entrepreneurs: high school students.
With sports seasons cancelled, no in-person school, and not many options for social events, there has been no shortage of time for teens during this pandemic. And while many high school students have spent their excess time sitting in bed scrolling through their Netflix browse page, some have started to look for ways to use their talents and time to earn some money in their communities.
Among these teens is an eighteen year old Greenwich High School student named Liza Danielson. Liza started a tie-dye clothing business on Instagram called Liza’s Closet, selling all sorts of brightly colored clothing items ranging from tank tops to masks.
Liza’s reason for creating this business extends beyond just wanting to make some extra cash with her free time. She explains that, “Following the unjust murders of Ahmad Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others, I wanted to find a way to fight for and support the Black Lives Matter Movement.” She decided to utilize her love for fashion to create her own clothing business to start raising money for racial justice organizations during the beginning of Quarantine. While the Coronavirus didn’t let her attend school in person or have a normal end to her junior year, it did enable her to employ her love for fashion, as well as allow her to make a difference in her community.
Fortunately, most teens in the greater Greenwich, CT area don’t have pressures to contribute to their family’s incomes, so they can afford to donate their proceeds back to the community. While Liza isn’t necessarily looking to create the next Apple with her business, she is making an impact on her community by earning extra money to support a movement she’s passionate about. Through creating her small clothing business, she has perfectly demonstrated taking little steps in order to create a big difference in the wider community.
In addition to making a difference in her community, Liza has utilized this pandemic to get real experience as an entrepreneur, including learning about marketing, time management, and business strategies. For Liza, these lessons came through trial and error. While starting her business, she explained her mistake of donating all of the proceeds, without putting money back into growing her business. After she realized her mistake, she began investing money back into expanding her inventory and started raising even more donations over time. Making these mistakes as a young entrepreneur has helped her learn essential entrepreneurial skills that can be applied to any future career, which she otherwise wouldn’t have done if it were just another regular school year.
Apart from these financial lessons, she’s also learned the fundamentals behind running a business, including marketing, time management, and organizational skills. From a marketing perspective, she’s learned the value of utilizing social media platforms to promote her business. Her business’ instagram account proved to be an effective way to gain the attention of potential customers. After creating her account, she had to test different photo styles and post different clothing pieces to see which of the photos received the best responses.
Taking advantage of social media to help advertise her products has proven extremely effective for young entrepreneurs. This younger generation understands the value of their large amounts of active and familiar followers to help grow their business. Especially during the summer, advertisements for high school students’ businesses were filling Instagram feeds and stories, showcasing everything from custom bracelets to artwork.
In addition to marketing, the time management and organizational lessons were another benefit to starting this business. Between the inventory, costs, materials, donations and marketing, she had to efficiently manage her time and stay on top of her orders to create a successful business. She explains that “with the demands of school, work, and other activities, it may become increasingly difficult to produce orders” like she did this summer, but she’s “determined to keep it going” even after going back to school, in order to continue supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Liza’s story of combining her love for fashion with her passion to support racial justice organizations is an inspiring example of high school students eager to get a jump start in entrepreneurship and make a difference in their communities.
This pandemic has revealed a new wave of young entrepreneurs and has given us a glimpse of the promising future for our economy. Their numerous successful and impactful businesses started during this pandemic are bringing hope to our country’s economic future. It’s even more inspiring to see many of these teens continuing to run their businesses after returning to high school and even college, showing their true determination to grow their businesses and help support the movements they are passionate about.
Here are some tips for any young students either wanting to get some business experience or looking for a way to raise money for non-profit organizations based on lessons from Liza’s experience starting a business:
- Coming up with your business idea: After Liza knew she wanted to start a business to support the Black Lives Matter movement, she looked to one of her passions as a business idea: fashion.
- Creating a business plan: As Liza learned, getting a business plan requires more work than it may seem, and one of the most important ways to successfully starting a business is staying organized. A business plan is essential to staying organized and coming up with realistic goals for your business.
- Building your brand: Liza’s main marketing strategy was using her Instagram and current followers to repost and promote her business’ Instagram account. Using social media to advertise is an easy, effective and most importantly free way to attract users to your brand.
- Ask your customers for feedback: Liza looked to her brand’s Instagram to get feedback from her customers by looking at which posts got the most likes and comments. Listening to your customers’ opinions and advice allows you to get to know your market and customer better, which will help you build a stronger business and show your customers your dedication to their satisfaction.
If you’re interested in reading more about the spike in entrepreneurs during the Coronavirus pandemic, be sure to check out the article The Height of Entrepreneurship: An Unexpected Side Effect of Coronavirus.
If you like this article, check out our podcast episodes: Bejay Mulenga – An Entrepreneur at 14 and Marjorie Gubelmann – Turn Your Passion Into Your Job