More than a summer job: Students start their own businesses


Starting small, juniors Maggie Harvey, Jacob Hillman and senior Carlyn Hinojosa, took advantage of their summer vacations to turn their hobbies into their businesses.

Harvey started up her own day care. She would take care of five kids at once, Monday to Friday, from eight six p.m.

“It was just a good way to make money and it was doing something that I like to do,” Harvey said. “I already had a lot of babysitting clients, but the bridge between those just happened when I had a surplus of clients who needed somebody to watch their kids over the summer.”

Starting local, Hinojosa would make custom made shorts and sell them for $25 a pair over the summer. It wasn’t until her shorts got so much attention from connections that she decided to open up an Etsy account and sell them online.

“I started my Etsy in late July and I sold over 270 pairs of shorts in a year,” Hinojosa said. “I made over $1200 my junior year. I made them all and I would start by just making 5 stable pairs of shorts.”

Hillman took an interest in photography and decided to start charging people for pictures. Most of the business he acquires comes from people he knows, or goes to school with.

“I do any photography that people need for specific events,” Hillman said. “Basically it’s just portraits that people want, whether it’s senior pictures or theatre headshots. Just any commissioned photography.”

Harvey still manages to work with kids, but hasn’t been able to open up the day care with school under her plate as well.

“Since I’ve been so busy I tutor over the school year and I babysit,” Harvey said. “I only nanny during the summer.”

Since Harvey is her own boss, running her own businesses can take a toll, and has become difficult.

“Keeping up with the high energy and keeping your eyes on all the kids at one time can be tiring,” Harvey said. “I don’t like the babysitters who come in, watch TV and let the kids do their own thing. I try to really interact and make sure they’re getting the most out of the experience too. So it can be really tiring keeping up, but it’s really rewarding at the same time knowing that you’ve made an impact on kids.”

According to Hinojosa, the business took over her life and it became hard for her to keep up. She gets her shorts from a vendor but does all the customizing herself. She has paused business activity during the fall.

“You bleach and you dye and you’re sewing and you’re studding shorts and it’s all hand done,” Hinojosa said. “The skin on my hands was deteriorating so it was dangerous. I just got tired of doing it.”

With the amount of business that Harvey has been gained, it became difficult to be able to take in every client.

“I have such a network now, I don’t have to take every kid,” Harvey said. “If there’s a kid and I feel like I don’t click with him or I don’t like his parents views or I just don’t like the arrangement, then I have the option to decline.”

With the changes in the weather, Hinojosa has had to change what she puts on her website.

“I made and sold sweaters last fall and the sweaters made me $1,000 last winter,” Hinojosa said. “They want more fall stuff, so I started making fall colored shorts and then I would make sweaters to go with them. It’s just about adjusting to your market.”

Hillman enjoys the success he’s had regarding his recognition more than the amount of money he’s made.

“I think I’ve been more successful with the recognition of myself aspect of it,” said Hillman. “For example, my mom’s friends recognize the fact that I take pictures and they think that they’re good. I enjoy that kind of success more than the money success.”

Harvey plans on going back to nannying once the school year is over, but worries she won’t be prepared for future job opportunities.

“I’m worried that after college, I won’t know how to apply because I just have this really nice set up and I don’t know what working in a store is like,” Harvey said. “At the same time, I just love it too much to ever try and find something different.”

Harvey, Hillman and Hinojosa advise kids who want to start their own businesses, to start small.

“Etsy was such a great way of getting started I would recommend it to anyone,” Hinojosa said. “You pay $2 to open up a shop and then you pay a little tax to Etsy and they help you advertise. It’s like business for dummies – they help you from the ground up.”

Harvey says that starting too big can be hard and is not as efficient.

“It’s really overwhelming if you sit there one day and try and plan this huge endeavor,” said Harvey. “So just start small and within your limitations, then grow it from there instead of trying to make a huge corporation in a day.”

With the success her business has achieved, Harvey sees herself working towards a career involving kids.

“I either want to be a social worker or special ed teacher,” Harvey said. “I have a Down syndrome and autistic client. They’re amazing and it’s really rewarding working with them.”

Hinojosa is less interested in the fashion aspect of her company and more interested in the actual business part.

“Business was generally the part of it that I liked more,” Hinojosa said. “I love marketing, being able to market my product and figuring out what advertising techniques would gain me more followers and would get me more customers. It was like a game and that’s what I think is more fun about it.’

Even though he loves photography, Hillman is not sure if it is in his future career.

“I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to go to college for,” Hillman said. “I’ve definitely considered photography in my future. I’m not sure if it has the highest pay roll further down the road. I haven’t decided if it’s worth doing something I enjoy over doing something I might also enjoy, but will make some more money with.”