Accidental entrepreneur

How one of SHS Leaf’s staff members created a thriving business


Deeya Prakash

STUMBLING ON A BUSINESS. Junior Grace Zhang had no idea that creating a simple, trendy sweatshirt for herself would spiral into a full on business, as she was greeted with many requests for her butterfly garment. All of her profits have benefited children at The Dragonfly Foundation, and Zhang hopes to continue raising money. “This is such an important cause to me and I feel…really privileged that I get to help out,” Zhang said.

Deeya Prakash, Opinion Editor

Junior Grace Zhang is easily one of the most over-involved highschoolers at SHS.

   Not only is she a part of our very own journalism program, but she golfs, volunteers, takes a number of AP classes, and is participating in the mock trial team for her third year in a row. 

   However, perhaps her most consuming activity is her position on the Fashion for the Cure committee, which puts on an annual fashion show benefiting The Dragonfly Foundation. All of the proceeds from their event go towards this non-profit that supports pediatric cancer patients and their families. 

   As a part of this committee, Zhang makes pieces for the runway, organizes donations, arranges for models, and anticipates that final spring day when everything her committee has planned for will come to life.

   These tasks were all listed in her job description.

   What was not?

   Creating a business.

   Yet, it happened anyway.

   It all started when Zhang walked into school with a simple, trendy blue sweatshirt, with a small butterfly patch emblazoned on the front.

   “I had seen a sweatshirt online that I had really liked but I realized that it was crazy expensive. It was really elegant and simple, and I told myself ‘hey, I can make this.’ So I found the materials for a much cheaper price and it looked just as good,” Zhang said.

   She was not the only one to realize this.

   “I saw how cute and simple they are and I knew that I wanted it. It’s just so unique,” said Juliet Horenziak, 10.

   Cue the masses.

   Only a few days later, Zhang was bombarded with compliments, people fawning over the originality and simplicity.

   “People started asking about my sweatshirt and when I told them that it was completely DIY, they started asking for them. And I suddenly found myself with a cool opportunity,” Zhang said.

   And that is how Zhang became an accidental entrepreneur.

   Before she knew it, word had spread fast, whispers of a trendy and comfortable garment percolating throughout the student body. And when her friends encouraged her to put up an Instagram poll to sample interest, 98 percent of her followers had hit the “yes I would buy one” button.

   “And that’s how I created a business! I had been looking at more ways that I can connect my passion for fashion to giving back so after I take out the money for the supplies, I will donate all of my profits to the Dragonfly Foundation.”

    So far, Zhang has raised over one thousand dollars from her sweatshirts, getting over 80 orders. Though her most popular design is her original, blue butterfly on a blue base, she has expanded her selection to 6 different sweatshirts and even more butterflies, their colors ranging from red to neon green to pink and purple. By doing so, her customers are able to customize their sweatshirts to their liking.

   She also says that she has spent much of her free time these past few weeks sewing patches to fabric, and would not have it any other way.

   “I think this has sort of opened up my perspective in terms of business. I realize that it’s really hard to get going, but so rewarding to see people appreciating your product. I feel like I’ve gotten a little taste of being an entrepreneur, and I really like it.”

   But at the end of the day, it was not her sales or the number of people she saw in the hallways, butterflies across their chests that really made the experience.

   “It’s really the change that I feel like I’m making. These people have been through so much, and I feel really grateful that I can do my part to benefit the kids at The Dragonfly Foundation,” Zhang said.

   And though the production has almost come to a close, the effect of her accidental business is far from over. 

   It is only just beginning.


If you would like to purchase one of these sweatshirts, click here.