Leesville teens start their own businesses

Many high school students spend their four years worrying about academics, college acceptance, and sports teams or clubs.  Others use this time, not only to focus on such essentials, but also to make money.  Most teenagers who seek jobs tend to find them at nearby stores or restaurants.

However, for a select few Leesville students, starting their own business became a priority.

Rachel Radulovich and Ellen Baker, sophomores, are two such students.

Radulovich sells her cards and artwork. She started selling towards the end of the 2009-2010 school year.

“I’ve made lots of birthday cards before, and people really seemed to like them.  They told me that I should sell them, so I took their advice and started my own business.”

Most of Radulovich’s artwork is inexpensive.

“How much a card costs is dependent upon the kind that it is.  Most little [cards] cost about one dollar.  Cards and artwork that people want to be more special usually cost a little more.”

“It didn’t cost a lot to start my business, just as much as it cost for the for the paper and colored pencils.  I usually make between $1-2 per sale.”

Lately, selling her artwork has become a passion.

“I sell my work because I really like to draw, so it’s great to be able to make money doing something that I like.”

Radulovich uses Facebook for the advertisement of her cards.

“I made a Facebook group called “Rachel’s Hand-Drawn Cards,” and I invited a bunch of my friends to it.”

On this page, people can view photos of some of the artwork that she has done previously, find ideas, or request a drawing or card.

Customers find Radulovich very accommodating and innovative.

Camille Andersen, sophomore, said, “[Radulovich] is a very creative, enterprising, and helpful person.”

Andersen was very pleased with Radulovich’s work.

“I definitely think it is worth it to anyone who buys her cards because they are so inexpensive but still really nice.  She can draw just about any design that you can come up with, so I think that they are a really good value for how little that you pay for them,” said Andersen.

Being an entrepreneur has also taught Radulovich lessons.

“After starting my own business, I quickly learned that you have to buy the stuff that you use.  Not everything you do makes a profit.  You do eventually have to spend some money to help your business grow.  However, owning this business has helped me learn how to manage my money better which will ultimately help me in the future,” said Radulovich.

Baker, on the other hand,  sells costume hats, tails, and collars, badges, and her artwork.  She started making and selling these about a year and a half ago.

“There is a pretty high demand for these items, so it’s a good way for me to make money,” said Baker.

Depending on the type of item purchased and how many add-ons are chosen determines the price of it.

Baker said, “Most hats start at around $20, but can end up costing between $40-50.  Costume tails cost between $40-50 because the material used to make them is expensive.  Costume collars are usually about $30, and the prices of my badges and artwork depend on what the picture is of and how many characters the buyer wants to be drawn in their picture.”

“Although it took a few thousand dollars [in materials] to start my business, my average profit is between $30-40, so I wasn’t in the red for too long,” said Baker.

Baker advertises her work online and at conventions.

“I have my own website, which I use to advertise my products.  I also attend different conventions, where I have a booth that people can come to and purchase items.  I almost always have my business cards with me; they have my website on there as well.”

Alicia Smith, sophomore, purchased one of Baker’s hats.

“I saw some of the hats on her website and thought they looked really cool, so I bought one.  I’m glad I did business with [Baker] because the hat is comfortable, cute, and really good value,” said Smith.

Smith had only positive things to say about Baker.

“Personally, I know that she is easy to work with and very creative.  [Baker] is all about the customer.  She sends you pictures of what your final product will look like before she makes it and throughout the process, and since you have to approve it, it’s always what you want.”

Like Radulovich, Baker has gained new knowledge from her business.

Baker said, “I’ve learned about supply and demand, which helps with understanding how today’s economy works.  I’ve also learned about being courteous to your customers, so that they will become repeat customers and recommend you to other people.”

She has big plans for the future of her business.

“I hope to be able to have my hats mass produced by the end of this year [2011].  I also want to be able to continue this business through college and even afterwords, so that I can keep making money,” said Baker.

Although managing a business, as well as schoolwork and extra curricular activities, can be a challenge, they are both happy that they have chosen this path.

“I’m really glad to be doing what I’m doing.  Although my life can sometimes feel hectic with everything that I have to balance, being an entrepreneur is definitely worth it,” said Radulovich.

Baker said, “Owning my own business can be kind of stressful with all of the commissions that I have to do along with all my schoolwork, but I’m glad that I have this business, and I definitely wouldn’t change a thing.”


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