Visitation’s entrepreneurs launch online businesses

Eliza Shearer`24

Staff Writer

At Visitation, girls are not only striving to achieve success in school, but outside of school in multiple ways. Specifically, some girls have taken up the job of starting small businesses on Instagram. These entrepreneurs exemplify the dedication and perseverance that comes along with balancing a business with all of their other commitments and responsibilities.

Photo courtesy of Ella O ’22.

Ella O `22 is the owner of an inventive business called Masked by Ella. “In June of 2020 I started making handmade, non-medical, reusable face masks, but I didn’t start selling them until August,” she said. These masks are made 100 percent out of cotton and are made in multiple unique patterns.

O is not only supporting the people who order her masks, but other members of the community as well. “For every two masks I sell, I donate one to a local charity because I want to provide comfortable masks to those who may not have easy access to them.” She elaborated, saying, “Honestly, I’m not looking to use Masked by Ella to make a profit, but rather use it as an opportunity to help those around me in the limited ways that I can. Especially with everything going on right now, I think uplifting others by sharing our passions is so important!”

Making these innovative masks is a devotion of O. “Sewing has always been a favorite hobby of mine, and to use something I love to support others is very rewarding and exciting,” she said. The circumstances of COVID-19 are what urged O to start a business and begin sharing her talent with more and more people. “Clearly, it isn’t ideal to have to wear masks, but since wearing them isn’t a choice, I thought I could make them more fun and comfortable,” said O.

Establishing Masked by Ella was significantly encouraged by her family members, specifically her grandmother: “My grandmother had also been making face masks for our family, so I worked with her to create the design that I now sell,” O shared.

O had to make pivotal business decisions, considerations, and steps. “I went to the fabric store many times, trying to find patterns that I thought people would like. I made many masks before making them available to buy because I had to consider the most comfortable fit for many different face types and how to make them breathable but protective,” she said. “The most difficult step was deciding how much to charge per mask because I wanted to make them as affordable as possible while also ensuring quality. I also had to keep in mind that it takes me 45 minutes to make each one.”

When asked the specifics of how the business is run on Instagram, O commented, “You can purchase them through instagram @maskedbyella! I post my available patterns through Instagram stories, and have my prices, sizes and shipping information there as well.”

Photo courtesy of Kristen Hilal ’21.

Kristen Hilal `21 runs a business called Kristen Nails on Instagram. “I sell custom handmade press on nails [which I] started in January 2021.” Hilal’s business sells nails that are all handmade, made of gel-x soft gel, customizable, reusable, and easy to apply.

“I hated paying so much money for manicures so I started painting my nails myself, but they would always break or chip. One day I discovered these gel press-on nails that were so easy to use and fun to make,” said Hilal

After this, Hilal decided to start exploring the creativity of nails. “They looked so good so I started doing them for myself and some of my friends. It was so fun for me so I decided I wanted to be able to make them for more people,” she said. “[I want to] make people’s nails always look good so I started my business”

There were multiple steps that were essential to getting the business up and running. “I spent a lot of time on [Microsoft] Excel making spreadsheets to figure out pricing (the cost of materials and my time), business expenses, and how to keep track of orders,” said Hilal. To raise awareness about her business and to attract customers, Hilal explained: “I post pictures of the nail sets I make in their boxes and on people’s hands. People can purchase any of the sets I’ve already done or request custom orders. They will fill out the order form with their nail sizes and the nails they want and I start making them and ship them out as fast as I can!”

Hilal’s favorite part of owning and running this business is “seeing the nails on people’s hands. I always love the nails so much and it makes me so happy to see people like them too. Even when people give a compliment about something as insignificant as the packaging, it makes me happy because I spent time picking everything out and making everything perfect.”

You can check out gel nails made by a fellow classmate on Instagram @kris10nailss.

Photo courtesy of Maggie Sullivan ’22.

Maggie Sullivan `22 owns a business called Baked by Magza. “I sell baked goods, but primarily specialize in cookies. I started business in January of last year and it took off at the end of March in 2020,” Sullivan explained. She sells treats throughout the DMV area by shipment and delivery. “My customers contact me via direct message on Instagram. They [can] find my menu on my Instagram, @bakedbymagza, and [can] pick up the cookies at my house.”

Sullivan has had an interest in baking for many years; the support from Sullivan’s friends and family encouraged her to become an entrepreneur and help her talent blossom.

“I’ve always had a passion for baking ever since I was little. During sophomore year, my friends had told me to make an Instagram to show off everything I bake,” said Sullivan. “One day girls started to ask if they could buy some of my treats to try, so I began to bake my treats and bring them to school. Turns out everyone loved them and I kept getting orders, so I eventually decided to turn it into a business.”

Having this business is a big and meaningful part of Sullivan’s life: “My favorite part about having my business would be the feedback I hear from my customers. It is the best when people love your products. I get the biggest smile on my face hearing that people love my cookies and want to buy more of them,” said Sullivan. “I started my business because I truly have a passion for baking, it was never about the money. I always say the kitchen is my happy place, because it really is. I love to bake and having a business allows me to share my love for baking with everyone.”

“I set prices that seemed reasonable for teenagers, who were primarily my main customers,” explained Sullivan. “My main goal for my prices was to make sure the cost of my goods matched the quality of them.”

“A huge part of how I got my business to takeoff, was my social media marketing,” said Sullivan. “Making sure I posted daily on my Instagram and having my customers post as well, got the word out about my business.”

Along with the many advantages of running Baked by Magza, there are also obstacles, “Running a business while being a student at Visitation is not an easy task to say the least. I ran it [cooking in] my kitchen and would have over 15 to 25 orders a week, while having to manage school work as well. My business had a quick and busy start, which came with some added stress, but I would not change it for the world,” said Sullivan. “I am very proud of where I have come as a young entrepreneur and I have learned so much about the business world.”

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