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Charger Entrepreneurs: Student-owned businesses

By Sophia Qin Apr. 5, 2023

William Huang Photo

The aroma of lemon meringue pie interlaced with the sharp fragrance of cinnamon sugar doodle cookies gently wafts through the air as Freshman Bella Luu packs another customer order.

Luu manages her own home-operated bakery, B.E.L. Bakes, making all customer orders from scratch. Crowned second in the nation by the National Kids Baking Competition, Luu utilizes the skills she gained on the reality show and incorporates them into her pastries and treats.

Baking for anniversaries, birthday parties, weddings and other events, some of Luu’s desserts take several days to complete. Luu makes sure to take proper care when crafting each order, ensuring her customers receive the highest quality and most satisfactory pastries.

“Everything is made to my standard; there are even times when I force myself to start over and remake entire desserts. Despite the large amounts of time and preparation running my business takes, it is always worth it. When customers choose me to be a part of their special day, that itself is priceless and more than I can ever ask for,” Luu said.
William Huang Photo

She hopes to expand B.E.L Bakes and continue adding to her online profile, selling merchandise, recipe books and other items on top of the baked goods.

Small student-owned businesses have been gradually emerging at the school, with many utilizing social media platforms to easily promote and advertise. Since each post can be shared and re-posted, information spreads rapidly, efficiently reaching the intended audience. From selling handcrafted jewelry to homemade slime, these businesses rely heavily on social media to increase sales.

Kenneth Yang Art

Another baking business called Mocha and Macs, owned by Senior Kylie Duong, is one of the countless small businesses that sells its products through Instagram. Duong created a separate Instagram account focused on showcasing her selection of mini desserts such as macarons, soufflés, cookies and cupcakes. She caters mainly for local events. Two things make Mocha and Macs particularly stand out from other baking businesses. First, Duong focuses on experimenting with distinctive flavors, creating unique treats such as tiramisu cookies and strawberry lilikoi cupcakes. Furthermore, all her treats are on the smaller side, acting more as single-serve finger foods.

“Mocha and Mac’s mission is to help prevent food waste at events by serving smaller ‘mini’ portions of dessert rather than large portions that I find mostly go to waste,” Duong said.

In order to balance school and her side business, Duong prioritizes assignments at school, doing those first then baking during the downtime she has. For now, the business will remain small, but Duong is excited to see where it will bring her in the future.

Kenneth Yang Art

Opening small businesses comes with a plethora of risks. Unlike large corporations, small businesses cannot sell bonds or issue new stocks for public customers. The inability to sustain frequent customer sales could easily result in financial instability and bankruptcy. Additionally, acquiring enough money to start up small businesses can often be difficult. As reported by Fundera, a company that offers financial advice, around 20% of small businesses fail within their first year of being established. A large contributor to this trend is the difficulty of receiving a bank loan. Because of inflation, the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates, increasing the cost of taking out loans. Letha Pugh, a co-founder of a small baking business in Ohio called Bake Me Happy, found the loan process to be long and tedious. She told the Associated Press how oftentimes, no process would be made with her loan due to bureaucracy and rules surrounding business loans.

Regardless of the unforeseeable problems managing an independent business can bring, many still choose this path to pursue their interests.

Kenneth Yang Art

Senior Jeffrey Zheng operates Andeff Apparels, a clothing company that prints attire boasting customer-requested designs and is available on Shopify and eBay. Zheng collaborates with many in-state and international artists who send their finished work to him two weeks after a design is submitted. Although Zheng is not directly involved in the manufacturing process, he often draws orders himself and frequently contacts the manufacturing company for updates. Zheng admits that the first few months of starting the small business were rough, as no companies were willing to partner with him. However, through the support of the community, he is able to continue running his business and he remains optimistic.

“I take pride in customer satisfaction. All I want is for buyers to feel comfortable and confident in their clothing and to be proud of themselves out in public,” Zheng said.

Despite the odds, these entrepreneurs have persevered and grown their businesses.

All three high school entrepreneurs have faith in their growing businesses, inspiring others to pursue their own passions and interests.


About the Contributors

Sophia Qin

School News page editor

Sophia Qin is a sophomore at Leland High School and the School News page editor for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys to stay in bed watching K-dramas with her dog while eating chips, sleeping and eating more.

William Huang


William Huang is a junior at Leland High School and a photographer for The Charger Account. He enjoys watching shows, playing video games, listening to music and playing with his dog.

Kenneth Yang


Kenneth Yang is a senior at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys sleeping, eating and exercising.

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