Small businesses, big steps

March is nationally recognized as Women’s History Month, a month dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the contributions women have made to society, regardless of the magnitude. Today, there are many businesses owned and run by women, including ones created by students. Here are some of the small businesses started by students.


Sarosh Ismail

Rida Jailani

Rida Jailani Photography

Having been involved with many extracurriculars during school, junior Rida Jailani found herself in a creative rut during the pandemic. Needing something to do, Jailani started to take portraits and began a business for her creative work.

“I always liked taking photos but never really took it seriously,” Jailani said. “I didn’t think I could make money off of it until 2021 when people started becoming interested and booking me for shoots. I realized [it] could turn into something.” 

Starting from scratch, Jailani created a website, Instagram page and business cards to  advertise her new business. She shoots engagement parties, weddings, senior portraits and other events.

“Starting [a photography business] requires a lot of time and energy,” Jailani said. “Advertising, editing and uploading pictures, sending it to clients and managing social media is a lot of work. More than I thought.”

Jailani said that balancing a business with school requires prioritizing and scheduling, but it is worth it.

“I want to book more shoots,” Jailani said. “I think this year, portraits are not people’s main priority, so I need better advertising to reach more people and to build a stronger portfolio to make my business more appealing. That’s pretty much my goal for this year and next year.”


Sarosh Ismail

Audri Fleming

C3 Bakery

From sitting on the kitchen counter as she watched her mom bake to starting her own business in the eighth grade, senior Audri Fleming has always loved baking. Finding her passion early on, Fleming was able to start a baking business right at home. 

“I have loved baking literally since I was born,” Fleming said. “In fifth grade, I watched ‘Cupcake Wars,’ and that is what started everything. I decided after watching it that this is what I want to do, and it just grew from there.”

Fleming makes and sells cakes, cupcakes, cookies and custom orders through her social media and website. She has had over 30 orders in the past two months.

“It’s a lot of work and time management, but I’m still learning,” Fleming said. “What I do is pretty much a full-time job, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world because I love what I do.”

Fleming plans to attend the Culinary Institute of America to major in food business management with a focus in baking and pastry. She will be learning from famous chefs and working toward her Bachelor’s degree.

“[In 2022] I just want to make sure I [use] all of my time well,” Fleming said. “[However], in the future I want to own a storefront so I can sell to the general public instead of people having to custom order things. I’m very excited.”


Sarosh Ismail

Anna Dattola

Made By Anna D.

Sophomore Anna Dattola has wanted to own a business ever since she made her first business plan in the first grade with crayons. She was in sixth grade when it finally happened. What started with getting burned from a hot mug ended with a business that has sold hundreds of adjustable coffee cuffs. 

“It’s really grown from where I started,” Dattola said. “I used to have an Etsy shop and then I moved to my website. I also started selling to coffee shops and am talking to other [vendors] as well.”

The website sells lanyards, charms and cuffs. Datolla’s parents also helped in designing the prototype cuff, the website and other aspects of the business. 

“I have learned that you have to have a balance of everything,” Datolla said. “It’s hard, but I have to make time for myself, too. I struggle with some health [issues] as well, so doing this is kind of an outlet.”

Dattola said she is also interested in graphic and game design and wants to pursue those in the future. Right now, however, her main goal is selling cuffs to more shops. 

“I want to sell to at least five shops by the end of this year and be able to afford the computer I want,” Dattola said. “The business has grown from where I started, and I want to expand even more.”