Harrisites take on side businesses

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While it is common for high schoolers to have a traditional part-time job, some students at Townsend Harris are taking a more creative approach. Harrisites like junior Victor Shemper and sophomores Audrey Chou and Sophia Zion run their own Instagram business accounts, where they sell handmade jewelry and thrifted clothes, respectively, as a way of earning additional cash and pursuing their passions. 

Victor sells handmade jewelry on his Instagram account, @designsby_victor, and on his website designsbyvictor.webstarts.com. “My love lies in all forms of art, and of course this falls under that category. I was inspired by a clay technique I saw on Instagram, along with my sister’s [love for] jewelry,” he said. “The main material used is polymer clay with a technique called kaleidoscoping. Each piece takes about 15-20 minutes to make and 10 minutes to bake.” 

Right now, his account only features earrings, but Victor plans on expanding his jewelry line in the future. “I have made various rings, and with single beads that remain I typically make necklaces,” he said. Every year, Victor also participates at his local arts fair, the Kew Garden Arts Fair, where he displays his jewelry. “All of the feedback I had from my customers was positive. Some of [whom] even asked me to make some custom jewelry for them.” 

Regarding the future of his projects, Victor explained, “I plan on pursuing art in the future, but not specifically this form of art. I want to maintain this business as a small ‘side job’ for the time being.” 

On @audrescloset, Audrey sells lightly worn and thrifted clothes, as well as handmade accessories, including gummy bear earrings and necklaces. “My love for this project stems from my love for fashion and style and accessories… I much prefer buying a few accessories instead of trendy shirts. I feel like they add a lot to every outfit, so I want other people to enjoy that as well” she explained. So far, she has had a number of customers from THHS. “I see them wearing my jewelry around school sometimes, which is super cool.”

Sophomore Kate Romero bought a pair of blue gummy bear earrings from Audrey. “I love it simply because it’s very unique and is an interesting piece to add to my outfits. A lot of my earrings are pretty plain… so this pop of color in my collection makes me want to experiment more with jewelry,” she said.

“Her jewelry is attractive and worth its price. The concept of her jewelry line is very modern, chic, [and] appeals to our generation,” junior Joyce Zheng commented. 

Audrey does not have a particular plan for how long she wants to continue this side project. “I’m just waiting to see where this takes me, but hopefully I can keep making and selling accessories for a while,” she said.

Similarly, Sophia runs an Instagram account @thegrinchescloset, where she resells clothes that have accumulated in her closet over the years. “My best friend and I started this account around four months ago, but the idea was in the works for over a year now,” she said. “We both love fashion and mainly use it as a media to express ourselves because it feels the most natural so clothing tends to be a big subject for us.”

She added that this is a more ethical and affordable alternative to buying clothes from bigger corporations, such as Forever 21 and H&M. 

“We’ve sold over 9 pieces and gotten great reviews from our customers. It’s been going really amazing and we’ve gotten nothing but positive reviews,” she said.

Sophia expresses her goal to expand her project. “We hope to start making our own alterations to our pieces and even one day sell originals. We also plan to branch out to accessories and shoes and such, but we’re not exactly sure when,” she said. “Overall, it’s been a great experience and something we are both extremely proud of.”

Photo courtesy of Victor Shemper. Victor is a Layout Editor for The Classic.