Trials and tribulations of turning a hobby into a small business

Felicia White/Courtesy

Saddleback College students start fashion-based small businesses amidst the pandemic

The beginning of the pandemic brought more than just paranoia, angst and worry. As students are given extended breaks from school and forced into an online schooling system, there is more time for creativity and hobbies to experiment with. Three of Saddleback College’s students took this time to turn newfound passions into their very own small businesses.

Felicia White, a first-year student, decided to take her love of thrifting to the next level. With an increased amount of boredom due to quarantine restrictions, White found herself thrifting exponentially more. Both sustainability and a sense of community are a gravitating product of secondhand shopping as well.

“I love what thrifting stands for in the sense that it does not promote fast fashion, which is something really big in my heart,” White said. “I just really support ethical worker wages and the way that it is good for the Earth. Every time a shirt is produced by a fast-fashion company, hundreds of gallons of water are wasted.”

Inspired by her father’s own small business, White launched GetThriftCa – a small business that resells hand-picked clothing. While she only resells over Instagram at the moment, she hopes to expand her platform after the pandemic is over. For now, she finds that selling over this specific social media platform is more accessible than a website due to her smaller audience.

Another small business in relation to the fashion industry is 33totes, started by a second-year college student, Emma Dickerson. Within the first few months of 2020, she found herself inspired by growing fashion trends that she saw on social media, which she had a lot of time to browse through. Tote bags were in, yet so unaffordable that she decided to make and sell her own.

Before she knew it, she produced bags in all different patterns and sizes and marketed them over Instagram. She admits that she fell in love with marketing through photoshoots and editing, which became a fun way for her to express her innovative side.

“Totes are such a staple accessory that so many people overlook,” she said. “Wearing a 33 tote is a way that you can bring your own personal style or flair into an outfit. It truly has become a way for individuals to express themselves in the simplest way possible.”

While the production process has slowed down since the new school year began, the earliest parts of quarantine allowed her to release new collections biweekly. Dickerson mentions that she has high hopes for her small business and will release more collections throughout the summer.

Paige Boyle, a second-year student, started Paigey’s Petals, a floral business where she builds and designs corsages and boutonnieres for special occasions. After always being interested in starting her own business, Boyle combined her artistic interests and free time to make this dream come true. She reveals that the pandemic benefited her in the sense that it gave her the freedom to put all of her energy into this one venture.

School dances and weddings have proven to provide her biggest clientele since she began this start-up journey. Boyle now has the opportunity to make connections throughout the community – ones she hopes will help grow her business in the future.

“One reason I love doing this is because I get to help people on a budget,” Boyle said. “My prices are super affordable because I use faux flowers, which look very similar to real ones and do not fall apart. This is especially ideal for school dances because kids will be moving around the whole night.”

Producing these corsages and boutonnieres takes a lot of patience and attention to detail, two things that Boyle claims to be skilled at. Learning these skills from a friend’s mom, Boyle became intrigued and took off from there.

The pandemic may have been a world catastrophe. But for some college students, it turned out to be the opportunity they have been waiting for. When one door closes, the entrepreneur looks for an open window.