Students learn from start-ups
As high-school students at Minnehaha start experimenting with different interests in careers and professions, some have started taking a big leap into the world of business ownership by creating their own company. These students range from seniors including Walter Trutna (landscaping), Zac Anderson (theater production), and Dason Thomas (financing), to freshmen and all cover a variety of products and services. Each started with an idea, which evolved into a plan, which turned into a process, which then led to their first customer. With the challenge of being a teenage CEO, this year also brings the added difficulty of COVID-19 these young business owners have to face. But these challenges have brought many valuable life lessons and tips these students have gained through their business journey.
37th Street Brand
37th Street Brand is a clothing company created by senior Jayven Williamson and his brother, Jose (‘17). Created in the heart of South Minneapolis, 37th St. Brand “Delivers unity and empowerment to the culture through innovative and timeless silhouettes.”
“We started a brand inspired by where we grew up on 37th Street,” said Jayven Williamson. “That house has been in our family for over 100 years, and it’s just been something that’s always been a part of us.”
With clothing and fashion being a big interest in the Williamson household, it was easy for the family to decide what to sell. “We wanted to sell clothes because it’s a way to express ourselves,” he said. “Clothing was a place to
portray our message and get it out to other people.”
The global pandemic COVID-19 has forced many businesses to close or shut down because of how it affected production and sales, but 37th Street was able to take advantage of this “digital time” by brainstorming more ideas and deciding to sell online through social media and a new website.
“When COVID struck we took a lot of our time just to think about what we were going to be dropping
next,” said Williamson. “Since we drop our clothes seasonally with a new product every season, we took advantage of this time to plan for the future. And before when we first started we had an Instagram
[@37thstreetbrand] and would either sell clothes through that or even take orders in person. But now that we have a website, people are able to see everything available there and place orders from there too.”
Owning a business at such a young age has helped teach Williamson many life lessons along with sprouting a new interest and goal for his professional life.
“I’ve really been able to see how much work and time goes into these types of things,” said Williamson. “I’ve also learned a lot more about how economics and business works. This experience really matures you and causes you to think of your future. We do want 37th Street to really take off and continue to grow. I don’t really see this as a temporary thing but something I hope to continue throughout my life.”
This idea that sprouted in the Williamson household did not take much time to take off, but did take lots of planning and brainstorming. But it is much more to them than just making extra money.
“I think that people should really know the story behind our brand,” said Williamson. “I personally would rather buy clothes that have a meaning behind it and have a good message. So when you go to our website it shows the background and history of our company and I think that is what really attracts people to the brand.”
Emily’s Calligraphy and Co. is a calligraphy and lettering business junior Emily John created in her free time during quarantine last spring.
“I have an Etsy where I create custom calligraphy products,” said John. “I sell notebooks, letters, and different things that people want to order and be customized. And the process itself doesn’t take too long either. Usually I will get an order and then depending on what the item is, I’ll either hand write or print out the design. This whole
process usually takes an hour or two, and then I’ll go drop it off at the post office for it to be delivered.”
Although John sees Calligraphy as a side hobby, there is a bigger reason for why she created her company.
“This is definitely not something I’d want to pursue as a main career,” said John. “But I will definitely try to keep this on the side because I donate 25 percent of my earnings to this foundation called the Pinky Swear Foundation which helps pediatric cancer. I chose this foundation because it’s a cause that I care a lot about, and It is actually the field of work that I want to work in when I’m older.”
Even with owning her own company for less than a year now, John has learned many lessons and tips to starting a business.
“There’s definitely a lot of changing and adjusting that you make in the beginning,” said John. “When opening the business you see what needs to be changed and what mistakes you have to learn from to keep on going. And starting at such a young age can give you new perspectives on how to attack problems
and what new things you have to learn to get better.”
CBED (CB Editing and Design) is a business created by sophomore Jack Borgeson that focuses onvideo editing, computer-generated imagery (CGI) and animation.
“I’ve always been interested in working with different video editing and CGI related projects,” said Borgeson. “At first I really just wanted to earn a little extra cash, but then I realized that I’m pretty good at it and love doing it and decided to turn it into my own little business.”
With editing and design taking tedious work and time, Borgeson doesn’t look at this as a chore but more as preparation for his future.
“My dream for the future is to own a company,” said Borgeson. “I don’t know if I will stay in the video editing field of work, but I thought that starting young and making my own business would be a good learning experience. A typical project would be a company or corporation reaching out to me and asking for some sort of request. I then usually do the editing or designing with Premiere Pro and After Effects. I then show it to the person with the request and talk on whether it’s good enough or if it needs any tweaking,”
As students like Borgeson start planning their future, many life lessons are learned along the way.
“Overall this has been a really neat experience for me,” said Borgeson. “Although I don’t see this as a permanent thing, I’ve learned that this is tough work owning your own business. And many people underestimate the time and skill it takes to do this kind of work.”
CakesbyCurtis is a family owned baking business that focuses on baking cakes, pies, danishes and other sweet treats.
“I started this business with my family last summer,” said freshman Curtis Craig. “What we started doing was baking different treats and then selling them locally around the neighborhood.”
But to Craig this was much more than just selling tasty sweets. With COVID-19 affecting many food charity organizations, Craig decided to target one in particular that interested him. Craig chose to give 20 percent of his profits to Every Meal, formally called Sheridan Story, a Roseville based charity.
“This ties in with the theme of baking food and a food giving organization,” Craig said. “And with COVID causing fewer people having access to food everyday, I thought it was especially important to give to them during this time.”
By selling locally, CakesbyCurtis has really been able to experiment and think of ways to selltreats during a global pandemic.
“Typically it takes a decent amount of time to sell the treats,” said Craig. “It all starts with an idea of mine. I then will make the treat and post pictures of it on our Instagram [@cakesbycurtis] for people to see and buy them. On average it usually takes around four hours for a larger project like a cake. People will then see the post and reach out if they are interested in the treat.”
Taking this amount of time to do extra work outside of school can sometimes be tough for a student, but by prioritizing some time of his day for baking, Craig has enjoyed being able to help others as well as making a tasty treat for people to enjoy.
“This hobby of mine has really taken off to something more than I imagined,” said Craig. “It’s really fun to see a project like this be completely done and finished, especially when it’s something that may seem small but in the
end brings joy to other people.”