Graphic by Lys Goldman ’21
From tired, bored and disconnected to energetic, grateful and hopeful, months of self-quarantine resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have brought out an extremely wide range of feelings and emotions in students. For some students, however, one feeling stands out: productivity.
In the past few months as students have been stuck indoors, some have used the time to start their own small businesses.
Skylar Newman ’23 established a handmade jewelry company called Clear Sky Jewelry specializing in bracelets and necklaces with part of the proceeds donated to the Learning Disabilities Foundation of America (LDFA).
“It’s a really fun thing to do when bored,” Skylar Newman said, “and it’s given me something to think about and relieve my stress [during quarantine].”
Skylar Newman’s jewelry is mainly sold through Instagram using an account to promote her products and direct messages to talk directly with customers. While she tried to also use Depop and TikTok, she found that Instagram was an easier method to get feedback and connect with her customers.
Skylar’s sister, Sydney Newman ’21, also started a business of her own during self-quarantine: Bleach’d. She sells custom bleached clothes focusing on sweatpants and sweatshirts, and also donates part of her proceeds to the LDFA.
“I was bored in quarantine and decided to order a cheap sweatshirt to spice up,” Sydney Newman said. “I ended up tying it up with rubber bands and bleaching it. I showed my friends and they all wanted one too. I ended up really enjoying the process and wanted to do more with it.”
While some students, like Skylar and Sydney Newman, have been creating their own jewelry and custom clothing, other students have turned to reselling clothes and accessories. One such student is Sydelle Bernstein ’22 with her business Sydelle Sells.
Bernstein started by just reselling her personal clothes and items, but her business unexpectedly expanded to also selling the clothes and items of her siblings, friends, relatives and others who have requested her help. Bernstein and her sister have also just started selling unique, painted designs on denim clothing.
“I started this business because it helps the environment,” Bernstein said. “I wanted to do something that would impact the earth in a positive way. Reselling clothes [and] items helps reduce waste.”
Bernstein also started Sydelle Sells aiming to help out with the current pandemic. To do this, she decided to donate a portion of her earnings to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bernstein hopes to continue her business after self-quarantine ends, but is unsure if she will have enough time to keep up with it.
“It has been busy, but I would definitely say it is giving me something to do and something to feel proud of,” Bernstein said.
Apart from clothes and accessories, some students have also started businesses selling handmade crafts. Shannon Conte ’21 launched Strings By Shannon, where she designs custom string art boards. Like many other students, Conte was inspired to start her business partially due to extra time during self-quarantine.
“I was wondering what I could be doing during quarantine to keep me busy and I found string art,” Conte said. “I also saw a lot of people creating small businesses and I thought string art was a really unique idea that everyone would like.”
In addition to keeping her occupied, starting her business has allowed Conte to feel a slight sense of normality during these very abnormal circumstances.
“Starting this business has not only kept me occupied, but also I have been able to put smiles on people’s faces,” Conte said. “I think seeing people smile and get excited is something I have really missed and it feels good to see that again.”