At CRSM several students are launching their own ventures before the ripe old age of 18. Here are their stories of imagination, risk-taking and pursuing their business dreams.
Ashley F. — @creations_by_ashleyy
CRSM junior Ashley F.’s parents and her older sister each have their own businesses, it made sense for her to launch her own venture. She started brainstorming ideas. She dabbled in doing no-chip nails but landed on what seemed more intuitive: The balloon arches popping up at bridal showers, weddings and baby reveal celebrations held by her large extended family. Ashley invested in a balloon pump and began creating balloon arches and flower arrangements in her family’s Waukegan living room. In August of 2020, she launched @creations_by_ashleyy.
“My parents are very hard-working people who did everything to make sure the five of us had every opportunity we could,” says Ashley, 17, the youngest of five. “I wanted to give back to them and show them I have that in me too. Her sister Viridiana Fajardo, a CRSM grad, is the owner of Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant in Waukegan and the Admissions and Administration Coordinator at Cristo Rey St. Martin.
With three older sisters, a brother and dozens of cousins in their 20s and 30’s in Waukegan— it turns out that the demand for custom balloon arches and flowers is high. Ashley has marketed her business through word-of-mouth, social media and participating in pop-up craft shows in the area.
“I’ve made balloon garlands pretty much for every party, bridal and baby shower in my family and friend’s families in the last two years,” says Ashley. She designed her own business cards, which she distributes to prospective clients. “I’ve built my clientele through social media and everybody who loves to throw parties loves them.”
In this season of school graduations and awards ceremonies, Ashley has designed balloon displays for schools such as Beach Park Middle School and upcoming Oakdale Elementary School.
With her profits, Ashley likes buying bouquets of flowers to surprise her mom. She’s also giving her profits back to her parents to help with household expenses. “I want to say thank you to my parents for all they do.”
Selene and Sophia C. — S & S Jewelry
During the COVID-19 pandemic when they were quarantined at home, Selene and Sophia C. stated, “we wanted to do something creative.” The identical twins and CRSM sophomores decided it was time to take their jewelry making to the next level.
“We have always wanted to do something together that we could call our own,” says Selene. They launched their small business in February of 2020. Their entrepreneurship is inspired by their hardworking five-member family, who all pitch in to run an office cleaning business.
The duo developed, pitched and launched S & S Jewelry on social media and through setting up booths at numerous pop up craft shops including at Parkway Banquets in Round Lake. Just a year into their business, they have more than 450 followers on Instagram. They’ve also leveraged creative marketing campaigns, including a “300 follower giveaway,” “Black Friday Sales,” and an “End of The Year 30% Discount.”
They have created and sold more than 100 of pieces of jewelry including: the Peace Bracelet, the Sun, Moon and Stars clay earrings, and necklaces made from clay and silver. Profits are reinvested for jewelry supplies.
Lessons from the entrepreneurial front: “We have learned to manage our time and to get organized,” says Selene. “It’s also taught us to step out of our comfort zone.”
Visit their Instagram shop at SandSJewelry28 or their Etsy Shop at SandSJewelryStudio.