Quarantine entrepreneurs: Students start businesses during COVID-19 pandemic


Photos courtesy of Alexa Brooke '23, Ellen Boling '23 and Rowan Watson '24

Students display the goods they sell. These products are sold by student-run businesses with prices ranging from $5 to $25.

Quarantine was challenging for many kids around the world. A study conducted by 72Point showed that the average American parent has heard their child say, “I’m bored,” at least six times per day since quarantine started. Although quarantine can be very boring for some kids, a few teens in our community decided that they would try to make the most of it and create their own businesses.

Sophomores Alexa Brooke and Ellen Boling and freshman Rowan Watson started their own small businesses through Instagram. These three students created their businesses for various reasons including replacing jobs they were unable to continue doing during the pandemic and as a way to donate to charities. Alexa Brooke made her business, Masks By Alexa, to provide masks to people in our community. 

“We are in a pandemic, so I figured it’s important that people wear masks, especially right now,” Brooke said, “There was still a shortage of medical masks.” 

Sophomore Ellen Boling made her business, Fundraising For Pups, in order to raise money for City Dog Rescue. Freshman Rowan Watson made her business, Earrings by RWN, to support Lebanon after the explosion that occurred August 4 that left more than 6,500 people injured and 300,000 homeless.

“I wanted to start an earring business because I kind of picked it up as a hobby, just for fun,” Watson said. “Then I heard about what was happening in Lebanon and I just thought, okay, I’m gonna put some of my funds towards this because it’s relevant.” 

The student-run businesses have an array of products with prices ranging from $5 to $25. Masks by Alexa sells masks that are each $5. Earrings by RWN sells earrings ranging from $6-8. Fundraising for Pups sells stickers that come with popcorn for $5, crewnecks for $23, and hoodies that have patches on them for $25.

 “I wanted to make [the price] reasonable to be able to make a profit from it, [but] I don’t want to sell my hoodies for $40, because even though that would make a profit, I feel like fewer people would buy them,” Boling said. 

All three businesses receive orders through Instagram direct messages and hand deliver their products for free within Arlington. These businesses sometimes have a lot of work to maintain in order to make products that will satisfy consumers. 

“[Making the masks] got easier,” Brooke said. “It was kind of hard, but I’ve gotten the hang of it. It still takes a while to make them but definitely not as much [time] as it was in the beginning.” 

Although small businesses are sometimes difficult to maintain, the business owners said the effects of selling their products are well worth the effort. Watson donates 50 percent of all her profit to the Lebanon Red Cross. Ellen Boling donated $250 to City Dog Rescue, $100 to the Official George Floyd Memorial GoFundMe, and the profit she has recently accumulated  will be split between going to a GoFundMe for a struggling Washington-Liberty family and Border Angels. 

“I’m donating that money to an organization called Border Angels, and they help with immigration to make sure that immigrants and people who come in get the rights that they’re supposed to get,” Boling said, “There’s this person that goes to the [Washington-Liberty] , and their family needs a lot of money right now because their brother has cancer, their mom just lost their job and their dad just passed away, so I’m also raising money for them.”

Through the student businesses, the owners were able to make a profit while contributing to the community.

“It just feels good to know that I’m helping people out, and helping people to have another way to stay safe and healthy,” Brooke said.

Boling is planning to continue donating the profit made through her business to charities.

“I get to make my customers happy but also know that the money is going to a good place,” Boling said.