Want to find a one-of-a-kind item this holiday season while taking steps to help our planet? If you answered yes to the above question, shopping small this year is your answer.
There is most likely a small business for you to support this holiday season, no matter the item– from homemade jewelry, art, and accessories to upcycled clothing and personalized gear.
Young Entrepreneurs have been popping up all over Long Island since the COVID-19 shutdown started. Teens and young adults have been running small businesses out of their own homes while balancing life’s many obstacles– work and school.
Compass News gathered that young entrepreneurs had extended their reach by spreading the word to their community and friends. With social media being an effective marketing tool to gain attention, they (young entrepreneurs) are making big waves on the island.
We had the pleasure of speaking with one of these young business owners, 17-year-old Medford student Ella Ginas. Compass News was eager to learn about how Ginas rose to a successful teen business owner.
Ginas found her love of business ownership while growing up, exploring her passion for creative expression and crafting. Ginas made profits by using her creative talents to sell her products at craft stands. “I’ve always been into having my own business. When I was little, I was pet-sitting by the third grade, and then I moved to crochet scarves. ”
Ginas notes that one of the places she would set up craft stands and sell her homemade scarves was at airports.
By her sophomore year of high school–Ginas had committed to building her own small business. The name was Ella’s Collection Co., and she has not looked back since. By combining her passion for crafting and creativity with her interest in business owning, her brand has grown into a successful small business that has sold over 1,600 items to 30 states.
The products that Ella’s Collection sells include upcycled, repurposed, and one-of-a-kind pieces from second-hand shops and thrift stores, as well as some shop merch.
“Fast Fashion is really hurting the environment. The clothes just sit in landfills.”
Ginas finds conservation and care for the environment as critical. “I just want to do what little I can and just repurpose clothes, so it gets a second life.”
An article on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website titled “Textile Reuse and Recycling,” mentions “While we recycle around 15% of post-consumer textiles, that means 85% of our used clothing and other textiles are ending up as waste in landfills and incinerators”. Finding cute or trendy outfits does not have to be from big brand names; second-hand shops have an array of unique clothing items for everyone to find rather than purchasing mass-produced and wasteful things.
“When I have free time, I will drive down to different towns, go to different boutiques and be like, ‘Hey! This is my hat, what do you think?’ My goal is to grow and be able to pay for college.”
These hats are the shop’s signature item; using real upcycled Louis Vuitton bags, Gina’s hand cuts each piece for a unique accent on the front of cozy beanies. Right now, Ginas has her beanies in seven boutiques across three states.
Ginas mentioned that she recently traveled to the Outer Banks, noting that it had rained a lot during her stay, and she felt bored. She thought it was a perfect time to go to the store with one of her signature hats on, and then “someone took me on!” she continued, “a month later someone who traveled to this store in Outer Banks saw my hats and she was like ‘I have a boutique in Pennsylvania, and I want your hats,’ so I sent them there.”
Ginas has used social media to grow her business as a teen, just like many other small businesses do to reach a larger audience. Social media plays a significant role in the growth of small businesses, mainly due to how we shop due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, which caused an increase in online shopping.
When supporting small businesses on social media, you don’t have to purchase an item to show support or be their biggest fan and repost everything; although that would be nice, a simple comment or repost can help a small business tremendously. “A like is a lot. Even a comment, just one emoji shows Instagram that people like your content and it will share it to more people.”
Ginas shares, “Even just reposting something, sending it, the more you interact with one little picture just helps a ton.”
If you’re interested in supporting a local teen business owner, find Ella’s shop on Instagram, @ellascollection.co, and her website at www.ellascolllectionco.com and throw her a like or two; a little kindness goes a long way.