Students’ small businesses lend a hand to the community


Illustration by Margo Kazak

Shosh Green, staff writer

During the pandemic, many businesses have suffered and struggled to keep their doors open with fewer in-person customers and insufficient technology services. For South students, however, the pandemic has provided an opportunity for them to create their own businesses with a variety of services, objectives and missions.

Senior Ellie Weiss, who established her business, Creative Customs, has worked hard to provide personalized apparel and merchandise to her customers. She explained that she originally started out with the goal to keep herself busy during the pandemic. Her ideas and motivation became the artistic outlet she was looking for during quarantine.

“During the pandemic, it was just super fun to have something to do and keep my hands occupied and stay off my phone or the TV,” Weiss said. “I just enjoyed it a lot.”

Describing her business, Weiss emphasized that her biggest focus is on creating customizations for any product available and establishing a perfect harmony between business and making people happy.

“I basically make any personalized apparel, phone cases or picture frames, really anything anyone would want,” Weiss said. “I use this machine called a Cricut and it cuts it out for me and then I can put it on a T shirt or the picture frame or phone case.”

Weiss explained how she has learned to appreciate her business and the way it has helped her throughout the pandemic. The lessons she has learned have impacted her understanding of business and reminded her how important it is to help her community.

“I’d say it’s definitely taught me resilience because I know how much people are struggling during the pandemic and I do it because I want to do it,” Weiss said. “I like to make people happy and I like to design stuff.”

For junior Sloan Greenfield, the opportunity to help others in her community inspired her to start her own business and give the profits to the Northfield Township Food Pantry. Greenfield recalled how she first thought of the idea to start the business and the process proved more difficult than she had anticipated.

“I sold 3.4 ounce bottles of hand sanitizer to my friends, family and people in the neighborhood and I put little sayings on them like ‘Remember to Wash your Hands’ and Remember to Smile’,” Greenfield said. “I wanted to do something to help the community during Covid-19 because I knew a lot of people were struggling.”

One of the most difficult aspects of the business was promoting ideas and then executing them correctly, Greenfield said. Getting creative, she chose to use her social media platforms to emphasize the importance of her goal and reach out to others in hopes of garnering more attention.

“It was kind of hard to get the word out to people because the only means of communication I had was if I had their numbers or posting on Instagram and not everyone has Instagram,” Greenfield said. “My parents also posted on Facebook so it could reach some of the older crowd in our community.”

Greenfield herself found a lot of meaning in her efforts. Through her business and from her donations, Greenfield was able to contribute to her community, while also feeling hopeful about the impact she had made.

“We raised over $330 and gave it to the Northfield Township Food Pantry, which feeds over 700 families a year in just Glenview, Northbrook and Northfield alone,” Greenfield said. “I really hope I was able to help out families that need it.