Senior starts business to help family


photo by Yasmin Haq

Senior Makena Butler poses with one of her spray paint pieces. She is wearing a mask to protect against Covid-19.

Like many students under quarantine, senior Makena Butler has found herself with a lot of extra time on her hands. 

To stave off boredom, Butler began taking up old hobbies like spray painting and jewelry-making. Butler had all the tools to create things, but she didn’t know what to do with it until she came up with the idea to sell her work. Butler decided she wanted to use the profits to help her grandparents, who she lives with, financially. 

“We’ve had a lot of things going on in our family, especially [because] I have a lot of doctors appointments and other things that I’m sure are not super cheap,” Butler said. “I’ve known for a long time that it’s been kind of an issue, and I’ve been wanting to help, but they refuse any help I try to give them. So I’m going to force them to take what I’m trying to earn for them at the moment.”

To open her business, Makena set up an Instagram and announced on April 11 she was selling her jewelry and art. She’s working on moving her work to Etsy in hopes of reaching a wider audience.

“The first couple days it was open, quite a few people messaged me and were like ‘hey, I want to buy some stuff,’” Butler said. “I got some decent amount of sales in the first four days, and it’s kind of plateaued since then.”

To get items delivered to her customers, Butler either mails or drops it off herself at the door due to the stay at home orders. 

Butler has received donations of supplies as well, especially old jewelry from friends and her grandmother. Butler said she enjoys repurposing old jewelry to make things she would like to wear. She has also been taking up new hobbies as well. 

“[My grandfather] had a bunch of equipment from years ago where he tried to learn to make rings out of coins, and I didn’t really have an interest in it when he first got it,” Butler said. “But now that we’re in quarantine, and I’ve had time, I started learning how to make these really nice looking rings out of just quarters and half dollars.”

The biggest challenge with being in quarantine for Butler is motivation. Despite having time, she finds it hard to stay motivated. Butler said people being happy with her products keeps her going.

“It’s super nice to be able to do something and know that other people appreciate it,”’ Butler said. “Like in terms of helping out my grandparents, but also in terms of making stuff and knowing that other people like the stuff I’m making.” 

Butler hopes to make around $300 to surprise her grandparents with. 

“I just hope to earn some money and be able to help them out in any way I can,” Butler said. “Even if it’s not a whole lot, the point of this is to show that you can count on me. I want to help and be there, so you can trust me.”