Getting Down to Business

Side hustles among Stevenson students


Christina Santello ’23 models her crochet handbag. Santello started selling her crochet items after interest from her friends.

A crochet hook weaves in and out as it guides a jumble of yarn into place. As the gray string follows the hook, the brim of a bucket hat emerges. Putting her hook down, Christina Santello ’23 picks up her phone and sends a picture of the product to her client. Santello runs a crochet business, Christina’s Crochet Creations, where she creates items such as tops and bucket hats for customers.

At Stevenson, students who run their own businesses sell everything from crochet items to precious metals and collectibles. Student businesses often start with a personal hobby or interest; Santello discovered her passion for crocheting during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“One night, I got a crochet hook and brown yarn and made a top using a YouTube tutorial, and I grew to really love it,” Santello said. “A week later I thought I could start a business with this, because I posted it on one of my social media stories and all my friends were like, ‘that is so cool, I want one.’”

Santello’s business requires her to coordinate with customers, advertise, and handle financials and shipping. Running a business while also managing schoolwork and extracurriculars can be challenging for students. Despite the stress, Santello tries her best to manage her time and responsibilities to avoid burnout.

“I’m the only one who makes the clothing items, so it’s very time consuming,” Santello said. “But I haven’t lost my passion for crocheting, which I think has been the thing I’ve been most proud of.”

Similar to Santello, Ronit Lodd ’24, owner of Chitown Coins—a business which sells collectible coins and precious metals online—also started his business because of a passion for collecting. Lodd’s business works by acquiring coins and collectibles from mints around the world and selling them to buyers through his website.

Apart from maintaining the website, the business also requires cultivating a presence on social media and maintaining customer relationships. Lodd agrees that completing schoolwork while also managing his business can be overwhelming at times, but he believes the additional effort is worthwhile.

Ronit Lodd ’24 sells coins through his website, He also manages an Instagram to promote the website.

“It is a lot sometimes to run a business, e-commerce, but it’s something that I pride myself in, that I was able to do this on my own,” Lodd said.

While students handle the majority of business operations, they’re not entirely without the help of others. Both Santello and Lodd credit their families for helping to establish their business and their friends for their continued support.

“My dad helped me come up with pricing and how I was going to market my products,” Santello said. “And my mom was my moral support. She would sit next to me while I worked, or modeled my products.”

While support from friends and family is important, a plethora of business education and entrepreneurship classes along with numerous clubs are offered at Stevenson to help students to learn more about business and develop fundamental skills. Josh Watson, who teaches Personal Finance and Intro to Business and sponsors Entrepreneurship Club, believes that the classes offer a foundation for future business endeavors and careers.

“One of the most valuable takeaways from the business classes is that the students get real-world exposure on how businesses are run, and if they’re interested in it, they can pursue it in college,” Watson said.

Waston stresses the importance of students gaining exposure to the business world at a young age. A survey conducted by Junior Achievement, an organization encouraging entrepreneurship and financial literacy, found that 13% of adult entrepreneurs started their first business at the age of 18 or younger.

To help students apply the concepts learned in class, business teachers plan a variety of real-world business experiences including partnerships with local businesses, field trips, guest speakers and dual-credit options. Moreover, clubs like Business Professionals of America (BPA) and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) further help students employ business skills and network with professionals.

“[Entrepreneurship Club and FBLA] are great opportunities to get to know like-minded people in the business world here at Stevenson, and also other people who take part in business activities and learn about business,” Lodd said.

Santello and Lodd plan to continue their businesses as long as they still feel passionate about it. While Santello’s business is currently not taking orders due to her college and scholarship applications, she plans to resume her business next semester. On top of allowing her to earn money through a hobby she enjoys, Santello’s business also helps her gain insight as to what she wants to achieve in the future.

“Starting the business really showed me that if I wanted to accomplish something, and if I had the motivation and passion, I could do it,” Santello said.