Berkeley High School students often go above and beyond in honing their skills and following their passions. Some students have even taken it upon themselves to start their own businesses and experiment with entrepreneurship.
Corina Blanton, a BHS sophomore, found a passion for baking at a very young age. “I started baking when I was five and just kind of never stopped since then. And then over the pandemic, I learned how to make cupcakes from scratch instead of using the boxes,” said Blanton, who runs a business called Corina’s Cupcakes.
She took her baking skills from her home kitchen to a licensed business during middle school, when she began selling her baked goods to classmates after school. Since then, Blanton has built a reputation for herself and her business through selling baked goods ranging from cupcakes, cakes, and cookies to friends and peers.
“I think I enjoy mostly watching people eat (the treats) and just seeing their reaction,” said Blanton, “because a lot of people are like, ‘Oh my god this is really good!’”
Tyler Kim, a BHS senior, started playing piano on the street with no intention to start a business. After requests from friends and strangers on the street, he began giving free piano lessons.
“A random person came up to me and (asked), ‘Would you give me lessons?’” After some consideration, he decided to try it. “I started giving free lessons to this random person,” said Kim. Eventually, these free lessons turned into paid, weekly sessions with regular customers.
Ava Distasi, a BHS senior, owns a jewelry-making business called Vita by Ava. Distasi was inspired to make jewelry at a young age after seeing some girls her age selling jewelry at an event. “I tried (making jewelry) and at first, I was really bad at it … but I just kept working on it,” said Distasi. Eventually, her jewelry-making skills improved and around the age of 13 she was encouraged by her parents to launch her business. “I had originally just started selling jewelry because I wanted to make some side cash,” said Distasi. Recently, her business became a way for her to contribute to a cause she believes in, reproductive rights.
In June 2022, a Supreme Court ruling known as Roe v. Wade, which protected the right to legal abortions, was overturned. “I was very upset about that (and) I knew that I wanted to do something,” said Distasi. “So I thought, hey, why don’t I just start donating whatever I have from my business?” The fact that her business is supporting a cause that she is passionate about is very motivating for Distasi.
Running a business is a difficult task, and student entrepreneurs at BHS face the added challenge of balancing their business with their schoolwork.
For Distasi, this means setting aside just a little time out of each day to put toward her business. “If I set aside five minutes a day to run my business, then, you know, that’s enough for me just doing what I can with the time that I have,” said Distasi.
Adalilly Chu, a sophomore who also runs a jewelry-making business only works on her products after she finishes all of her schoolwork. “On weekends, after I’m done with all my studying and stuff, I’ll just start making jewelry for a few hours,” said Chu.
For Kim, it’s challenging to find new piano students. “It’s very slow, like, I might get a new student every two or three months,” said Kim.
Starting a business in high school can also be a very rewarding process for young entrepreneurs.
“It’s just nice to think that I’m doing something that’s a little bit bigger than me,” said Distasi, who hopes to donate $500 to the National Network of Abortion Funds by the end of the year.
Chu is proud of her originality when it comes to designing jewelry to sell. “(I’m proud of my) creativity because it’s kind of hard to make your own jewelry since, there’s so many people selling on Etsy,” said Chu.
“When (my students) present me their finished product I am just overwhelmed with joy,” said Kim, “because I helped this person … start with nothing and then build it into this amazing finished product and it makes me really happy that my students did this with my help.”
Whether they started their business to support a cause or to make extra money, student entrepreneurs find value in their businesses.