By Jade Schwarting
While many students here have some sort of personal income, usually it’s not through a business they can call their own. This is not so for sophomore Aneesha Kamath who designs and decorates jeans for friends, family or anyone wanting a pair, and sells them for a sizeable income.
According to Kamath, her idea to make the jeans came from a culmination of many hobbies including her background in art which includes several years of art classes, in addition to Drawing IV and IB Art which she will take next year.
“I read the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in sixth grade. I liked the idea of sharing pants with friends that you draw and write on. I’ve been friends with (the same) people for a long time so I thought it would be fun to do. And then I read (the books) again last year and in (English teacher Lynette) Gross’s class we had to do a project where you had to dress up. And to dress up, I drew on a pair of pants. My friend (sophomore) Catherine “Cat” Krege really liked them so I made a pair for her.”
Kamath began her small business by giving the jeans as a gift or making them just for fun. While the Sharpies she used only cost her about $10 to $15 a pack, she soon learned that the jeans could not be washed or the marker would run. She then purchased fabric markers so the designs wouldn’t run when washed. With the new markers came a higher price tag, forcing her to sell the jeans for about $30 a pair.
While Kamath said she does not plan to continue her small business after high school, Eric Murphy, Hamilton County Alliance business plan presentation winner and senior, said student-based businesses are somewhat rare. “There are a few here and there that I know of but generally speaking, they’re not too common,” Murphy said.
While these businesses are far and few between, Murphy said a good business person is one with “the drive and push to succeed, the mental capacity and an accessibility of resources. It would definitely help to take marketing classes and entrepreneurship. In both of those classes you work on business plans which are very helpful since that’s the first step in starting a business.”
For Kamath, she has no business plan, no marketing experience and no advertisements, but her process continues to remain simple and successful. Kamath said, “I sketch in a sketch book what I want the jeans to look like. Then I e-mailed forms to my friends that they can fill out with information about their personality, what they want to do when they’re older or just what they want on their jeans. I just make them really personal with quotes and pictures that (have meaning).”
While risks such as debt, an unsuccessful business or minimal income are common with entrepreneurial companies, Murphy said the risk is a calculated one. “You know what you’re getting into before you do.” Along with financial risks, downfalls such as a large time commitment can put small businesses at risk. While Kamath does not see her income as a business, she continues to devote time and money into producing more jeans. Kamath said, “Whenever I have time I work (on the jeans). It’s pretty easy to get them to the people; they don’t usually give me deadlines. But if they do they’re usually pretty general. Like six months in advance for a birthday present or something. I usually work on them over the holidays like Winter Break and three day weekends and stuff too.”
Although Kamath is a minority of employed students here, Murphy said he encourages students interested in starting a business to do so. “Owning your own business means you have the opportunity to be your own boss. If starting a business is something you want to do, make it work. You can do it by just taking it one step at a time and working through the process.”
Kamath said, “I don’t make a lot of money but it’s a nice way to have an income. It’s fun for me to do and I enjoy what I do, so that’s a good thing.”