Carrot cupcake earrings from Madeleine Ischos Etsy shop @FunSizedStudio. Photo courtesy of Madeleine Ischo.
Carrot cupcake earrings from Madeleine Ischo’s Etsy shop @FunSizedStudio. Photo courtesy of Madeleine Ischo.

Making cents of crafts

Taking a look behind the scenes of three MVHS art small businesses
Frog enamel pin sold at Anqi Chens Etsy shop @Anqchii. Photo courtesy of Anqi Chen.
Frog enamel pin sold at Anqi Chen’s Etsy shop @Anqchii. Photo courtesy of Anqi Chen.
Anqi Chen

Fueled by her motivation to evade the priciness of other enamel pins, senior Anqi Chen founded her own pin business in the summer of 2021. Her mentality was that if it cost so much to buy a pin, she might as well just make it herself. The journey started from a single pin, then two, and now her backpack is adorned with them, each enamel accessory sporting its own intricate designs and patterns. 

Anqi poses next to a tree. Photo courtesy of Anqi Chen.

“I just like pins,” Chen said. “Honestly, all of the money that I’ve made has been used to buy pins from the other [Etsy shops] that I like. It’s an obsession.”

Chen usually gets inspiration from other Etsy designs that she browses through. Once she knows what she wants the pin to look like, she draws it herself and sends it to a manufacturer, who will then send back a sample of the pin. The manufacturer will start mass production after Chen is happy with the final product. 

“In [hindsight], I should’ve been a little more careful sorting through manufacturers,” Chen said. “In the beginning, I did run into many problems regarding the quantity of pins.”

Chen acknowledges that eventually, she will stop making pins once she graduates from high school. Although Chen doesn’t see her future pinned down to her small business, she expresses how grateful she is for it. 

“I have a lot of fun [making pins],” Chen said. “It probably will never become my main thing but I mean, this is something that I really enjoy, and your hobbies don’t have to become your career.”

Chen’s enamel pin design process | Isabelle Kok
Mint chocolate chip ice cream earrings sold at Madeleine Ischos Etsy shop @FunSizedStudio. Photo courtesy of Madeleine Ischo.
Mint chocolate chip ice cream earrings sold at Madeleine Ischo’s Etsy shop @FunSizedStudio. Photo courtesy of Madeleine Ischo.
Madeleine Ischo

Offering plenty of first-hand experience and skill-building opportunities, restaurant hospitality is far from an uncommon first job for high schoolers. However, the dishes junior Madeleine Ischo serves are a little more unorthodox — they’re made entirely out of polymer clay. 

Madeleine wearing the ice cream cone earrings that she had made | Isabelle Kok

Ischo runs a handmade earring business on Etsy, advertising both custom and ready-made polymer clay earrings in the likenesses of different foods and beverages. Having started the business on a whim in her sophomore year, Ischo initially advertised through social media and family friends.

“It’s such a fun thing to do to de-stress and also make money,” Ischo said. “I can go on Pinterest and make whatever food I think is cute.”

For now, Ischo is content with her business remaining small. While the career path she’s currently pursuing doesn’t include her earrings, Ischo still wants to continue her business after graduation, as the time commitment to a smaller shop is more sustainable.

“I already spend so much time in school,” Ischo said. “I don’t really have time to put in that much effort into expanding it to my own platform or having an extensive social media.”

Ischo acknowledges that she’s grown as a business owner since first opening her shop. She reflects on her initial products with some regret, wishing that her quality and efficiency had been consistent from the start.

“I needed a more structured process of my creation schedule,” Ischo said. “I only wish I had created a better system to increase uniformity.”

Ischo’s earring design process | Isabelle Kok
A photo of MV Andaaz team members taken by Rohin Inani
A photo of MV Andaaz team members taken by Rohin Inani
Rohin Inani

MVHS alumnus Rohin Inani kicked off his photography career armed with only an iPhone camera and his imagination, diving headfirst into the creative process of becoming a photographer. After repeated trial and error and a multitude of upgrades, Inani was finally able to add to his arsenal of camera equipment, investing in a digital camera that no longer restricted his ideas.

Rohin uses his digital camera to take a photo of the surrounding landscape. Photo provided by Rohin Inani

Once he had honed his skills, Inani started taking commissions for photoshoots, usually advertising to students through social media.

“Initially I [never] thought about it from a money perspective, it was just to have fun,” Inani said. “But eventually I thought a little bit more about it, and I was like, ‘You know what, people really want photoshoots.’ So I just took that first step.”

Inani did photoshoots for a variety of customers, such as his friends, dance groups and prom attendees, and was able to grow his brand through his high-quality work. Inani comments that although photography is time-consuming, it’s a rewarding process for him.

“My favorite [part] of photography is making people laugh,” Inani said. “People want to see a natural smile, and I think a natural smile is not forced, but rather it’s given. I think that really drew me to photography.”

Currently attending Purdue University, Inani is no longer able to take commissions like he once did while he was a student at MVHS. However, photography remains a priority for him, and he’s looking forward to capturing more images when he returns during summer break. 

“Photography is one of the things that you can’t [ever] take away the demand for,” said Inani, “It will always remain because people can only live a moment once, but through photos, you can live a moment a million times.”

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