Student Start Ups Turn Passion into Profit

By Adrian Fernandez-Kim

From buying lunch to paying for parking, Berkeley High School (BHS) students need money. Some students get jobs, some students ask their parents for money, but a few go a different route — starting a business. When deciding to start a business, there are many different things to consider: what product will you sell? Who are you going to market to?

One student, Abbib Barajas, a senior in Academic Choice (AC), loves clothes. “There are no rules. You can wear and create what you want,” said Barajas. Barajas’ interest in clothing and how it’s made led him to create custom patches and do alterations and repairs on people’s clothing. He plans on creating custom clothing as well, making simple items at first, like shirts and hoodies. Eventually, he wants to be able to make more complex things, like denim jackets and jeans. Creating clothing and patches is an artistic outlet for Barajas, and it is also one that he’s turned into a small business.

Mateo Jeanneau, a senior at BHS, is French, and decided to connect his culture with a business idea. In France, baguettes are eaten at every meal, but here in Berkeley, Jeanneau has found that this lifestyle isn’t possible.

“French immigrants to Berkeley don’t have that kind of accessibility, because bakeries aren’t walking distance and there are often long lines,” said Jeanneau. Jeanneau decided to help solve this problem, offering baguette delivery by bike to residents all over Berkeley.

Every Saturday morning, he delivers baguettes to his regular customers by 9 AM, biking all around Berkeley to deliver freshly baked baguettes. Jeanneau encourages everyone, French or not, to give fresh baguettes a try. They are available for delivery on his website, baguettebybike.com.

Starting a business in high school is made easier by the fact that high school is a closed environment — word of mouth is quick and widespread.

However, being a high schooler means that it might be difficult to receive respect from adults when speaking about you business. Adults might ignore or not consider high schoolers and their ideas, which might make it hard to explain their business or sell their product to the adult.

Either way, Barajas and Jeanneau have found ways to take advantage of the opportunities that starting a business as a high schooler provides and to overcome the unique challenges they face as young high school entrepreneurs.

While Barajas’ and Jeanneau’s businesses are unique, they’re united by their underlying spirit of  having been started by high school entrepreneurs.