Students connect with their communities through entrepreneurship

The businesses featured in the above video are K&K Candles and A&A’s Chocolate Stop.

From candles to lessons, students at Carlmont have explored ways to start businesses. Some are for inspiring action and giving back to the community, while others have been an escape from the dimness of the pandemic. 

Clothing with a cause

With social justice stirring, Auva Soheili, a senior, made a nonprofit clothing business to donate to various causes, urging for change and empowerment.

“In May 2019, the uprisings against the heartbeat bills were going on in the south, and Planned Parenthood was getting cut out of Title X. It really frustrated me that women’s body autonomy was still getting attacked,” Soheili said.

The business, BOLD Apparel, donated all profits to Planned Parenthood and Larkin Street Youth Services, caring for homeless youth in San Francisco. Currently, Soheili is raising money for Farmworker Justice, supporting farmers working amidst the pandemic and wildfires. 

Balancing a nonprofit proves to be difficult, as it creates a new obstacle for getting supplies.

“There’s a slight fee so that I can buy more supplies. I’ve dipped into my own savings, and a lot of my money has been invested in it. I don’t take anything for myself, just to keep [the business] afloat,” Soheili said. “Usually I use things that are discounted, like thrifted cloth.”

Though Soheili runs most of the business, she recently took on two new members for the social media team.

“We have a social media account on Instagram. I have a small team that is working on our social media, on stories and feeds, and making informational resources,” Soheili said.

Soheili hopes to continue with BOLD Apparel as long as she can and has also started taking commissions through direct messaging on Instagram. 

“I wanted my pieces to be affordable so that everyone could feel bold and really confident and also feel like they had a voice to make a change,” Soheili said. “I want to continue to empower other people as well, which is why I want to continue sewing and donating to other charities and nonprofits.”

Bay Area jewelry shop goes international

With an abundance of free time during quarantine, many felt dwindled and bored. 

Eliott Yonts, a senior, needed somewhere to express their creativity. 

“On TikTok, there was that craze of, just weird earrings, so I was kind of inspired by that,” Yonts said.

LABMTE, their earring business, started small, with few orders and even fewer supplies.

“It just kept growing and growing, and then I bought like a label printer, and I bought a big box of envelopes from this eco-friendly brand, so they’re made of recycled newspaper,” Yonts said.

However, since then, Yonts has gotten around 540 orders from all over the world, spreading to Spain, Canada, and the United Kingdom. But the orders have slowed down a bit since school started. 

“When I have free time, I’ll do some orders really quick. It doesn’t take that long to package them because I’m used to it now. It’s sometimes a little stressful to go to the post office and make time for that, but I think I’m handling it pretty well,” Yonts said. 

While Yonts’ sales come from Etsy, Instagram has helped with publicizing.

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A post shared by earrings by eliott (@labmte)

“I have an Instagram, and I think a lot of people find me through Etsy, just from searches, and I did Etsy ads for a while. I used to run this Instagram account with my friend that was really big, and it probably had 15,000 followers. I shouted [the business] out on there, which really helped boost it,” Yonts said. 

Yonts finds their business to be rewarding, as they have received a lot of support throughout the process.

“My mom is really interested. She definitely wants to support it, and I think she finds it very exciting. My family is very proud of me, which is nice,” Yonts said. 

Homemade ballet studio helps young girls

Like Yonts, Kasey Parks, a junior, was able to start a business with free time in quarantine, teaching ballet lessons in her garage.

“[My family and I] set up a studio in my garage and installed a floor and a bar, and that was originally for me to take my classes online. But then I had the idea to open up and start teaching people,” Parks said.

The girls she teaches range from ages three to 10, and each lesson is an hour long. 

“In the beginning, I just had a few students, a few times a week, and then it slowly picked up. Currently, I’m teaching ten lessons a week, but I have more students than that, so we have to rotate through and schedule extra lessons,” Parks said.

Although it started with flyers, new students have mostly come from word of mouth.

“[To publicize,] I created a flyer, my mom posted on Facebook, and there’s also a Redwood Shores mom’s group,” Parks said.

However, Parks had to cut down significantly on classes when school started in August.

“During the summer, I was teaching 20 lessons a week. It’s been a little bit tricky trying to balance schoolwork and my own extracurricular activities. Luckily, the people I teach have been pretty flexible, and I had to learn how to manage time well,” Parks said. 

To Parks, teaching lessons is very fulfilling and this experience has been rewarding for her.

“[My favorite part of teaching lessons is] seeing the improvement, since I’ve been teaching for six months now,” Parks said.