Student businesses pop up during quarantine


Junior Carolina Ortega creates custom shoes and advertises them on Instagram (@caroscustoms).

Juan Garnica shares an image of him giving a haircut on his Instagram (@el_topo_fam).
Elyssa Staples shows the variety of her products on her Instagram (
Isabella Reyes shows one of her earring designs on her Instagram (@montecarlojewlery).

Making money isn’t always easy, but always rewarding. This unfortunate pandemic has made it even harder to earn some extra cash. Even so, some people have still managed to work their way around it, and found new ways to make money while doing something they enjoy. These local businesses that were created by students at Western High School, are up and running – even during a global pandemic. 

Sophomore Elyssa Staples put together an online website where she sells glamorous products. From glitter lip glosses to angel earrings, she makes everything by hand and keeps it sanitary. 

“I was just really bored in the beginning of quarantine and I wanted to make money,” Staples said. Staples managed to have a successful business and continues to make sales.

“Recently I get like 40-80 orders a week. Sometimes less, sometimes more,” Staples says. “When I opened my website, I got a sale literally like 10 minutes after I opened it. The song pieces are the most popular.” The song pieces are acrylic posters customized with any song cover. Her products are displayed on her website and Instagram account (

Senior Isabella Reyes sells resin earrings that can match with any outfit. Her earrings are styled with butterfly wings and flowers.

“I started during quarantine, and made a video that blew up on Tik Tok, so I started getting a ton of orders,” Reyes said.

People from all over the nation have purchased her work. Reyes donates a portion of the profits to organizations.

“So during the BLM protests, I donated 30 percent of all proceeds to the Minnesota Freedom Fund since I was selling a lot and wanted to help out,” Reyes said. “And for July, I donated 15 percent of proceeds to the Marshall Project.”

Reyes usually makes donations when she has a lot of sales. Her work is displayed on her Instagram account (@montecarlojewels) and Etsy. 

Junior Carolina Ortega sells customized shoes for anyone who would like to add an artsy touch to their outfit. She’s done a wide range of pieces, with designs featuring Spongebob and Star Wars.

“I like doing Disney characters. My favorite shoes to paint are custom orders because it’s something new that I haven’t made,” Ortega said. 

Ortega always had a passion for art since she was 8 years old. One day she saw her old pair of shoes and decided to revamp them. A friend was impressed with her shoes and asked her to paint theirs too. After more people started noticing her work, she eventually made a page. 

Designs and prices are displayed on her Instagram (@caroscustoms)  account and website, as well as instructions to clean the shoes without messing up the designs.

Junior Juan Garnica expanded his haircutting experience by offering cuts for a reasonable price. Before moving to Florida from Missouri over the summer, Garnica always wanted to cut hair, and the downtime of the pandemic allowed him the time and space to pursue it. 

“I realized I can make a new life here so I spent almost $500 on barber equipment; clippers, mirrors, sheers, etc,” Garnica said.

At first, he wasn’t receiving many clients, so he made business cards and gave them out to as many people as possible.

“I’m pretty sure they thought I was just a teen trying to make some money on the side, but it’s more than that,” Garnica said. “It’s my passion.”

After making a Facebook post of a customer’s hair, he started seeing more progress. He can be contacted through Snapchat (@el.chicano5) or Instagram (@el_topo_fam) to get a cut. 

“Do what you love and don’t stop. Nothing comes overnight,” Garnica said.