Small Businesses at Blair

Sept. 21, 2023, 8 a.m. | By Bethel Ameha | 8 months ago

Discovering the endless variety of small businesses Blair has to offer

Junior Max Erlebacher, owner of La Petite Prince Photo courtesy of Josephine Panner.

60 percent of teenagers are more interested in someday starting their own business according to a March 2022 survey by Junior Achievement USA, and Blazers are no exception. With small businesses ranging from online bakeries to clothing brands, Blair is a hub for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Though many of the Blazers' businesses start small, they are finding more success than anticipated after taking over social media with their marketing and advertising.

La Petite Maison

Junior Max Erlebacher created a baking business at Blair called La Petite Maison (the small house) on Feb. 21, 2021. Erlebacher began his business on the website Shopify, an e-commerce platform for people to start and grow a business. This website allowed him to operate his business and sell his products such as fruit tarts and galettes locally.

La Petite Maison began during quarantine, a time when many kids struggled to find hobbies to fill their extra time. Erlebacher explains that he struggled to find his purpose during the pandemic, so he decided to create a small business. “During the pandemic, I felt like I didn’t have much of a purpose at all, because it was just doing Zoom school, which wasn’t even really rewarding…I wanted to do something that kind of gave me like a purpose and like fulfillment,” Erlebacher says. 

Erlebacher had to take various food safety rules into account when deciding what products to sell. “I couldn’t do… a regular cake with like frosting because the frosting would go bad. So that means you have to get creative,” Erlebacher explains. Due to difficulties balancing a business and school, he ultimately decided to close his business on Aug. 21, 2021.

Like any business owner, Erlebacher needed to advertise to get his business out to the public. Erlebacher used the social media site Next-Door Neighbor to advertise his goods at a small cost. “I would put up ads on that, you just pay a little bit of money, you get clicks, people might buy and then after that, I used emails to keep who already bought coming back,” he explains. 

Erlebacher decided to target La Petite Maison towards an older audience because he believed young audiences tend to be busier while older audiences have more free time on their hands. “They had more time to click on some random kids ad for selling baked goods when maybe some young person who's just getting a job might be uninterested in that because they’re so busy,” Erlebacher says.

Opening La Petite Maison allowed Erlebacher to see that he could achieve his goal of opening a future restaurant. In the future, he hopes to first open up a ghost kitchen, a restaurant that only serves carryout and delivery, and then a food truck that could eventually lead to a full-blown restaurant. “If I ever want that’s how I would start because then you can make a modest living doing that and then you can work up to being able to open a food truck and then a restaurant,” Erlebancher says.

Militant Youngins

Another rapidly emerging business at Blair is Militant Youngin, led by junior Momodou Kuyateh and sophomores Amid Jalloh and Bakarr Abu. This clothing brand began on Feb. 10, 2023, and is mostly known for selling t-shirts and other clothing varieties.

There was one main reason this business came to fruition: boredom. The idea originated when all three boys were at Abu’s house, trying to come up with something to do. Out of the blue, Kuyateh suggested the idea of creating their own clothing brand, and they went with it. “I came up with [the] idea of starting a clothing brand and at first we weren’t like that serious, but then we were like, we could actually do this,” Kuyateh says. 

Abu, Jalloh, and Kuyateh first advertised their business in the Blair community using several methods. They first promoted on social media with mockups, designs that visualize the final product. “First we posted the mockups…and asked people [if they] would mess with it… after we actually got some designs, [it] just started skyrocketing from there,” Jalloh says. Abu, Jalloh, and Kuyateh believe that their small business is a good way to earn money while being independent. “It’s a good and creative way to like, bring income, and like, you’re the boss,” Kuyateh says. 

However, they also faced many obstacles as first-time entrepreneurs. One of their greatest challenges has been overspending. Kuyateh explains how all three of them didn't have jobs and had to seek income from their parents to start up the business. “We’re all like 16 and 15, like, we didn’t have jobs. So … we got to ask our parents for money and it’s kind of hard to like get the income,” Kuyateh says.

Militant Youngins is currently still open but is facing difficulties with its manufacturer. They’ll be dropping new merchandise and collaborations soon. “But just be ready for some more heat… after summer, probably have like a little collab. And after that, we’re gonna have PCs and be ready for hoodies, zip-ups… Just stay tuned,” Jallo says.

Junior Canaan Bogale, owner of Canaan Bakes Photo courtesy of Josephine Panner.

Canaan Bakes

Another expanding Blair business is junior Canaan Bogale’s baking business, Canaan Bakes, established on May 16, 2022. Bogale runs a business centered around selling baked goods such as cakes and cupcakes, generally to her friends. 

Bogale’s inspiration for creating a business started when she began baking in 5th grade with a friend. She practiced consistently by using online resources like YouTube and Google. As she entered high school, she baked a lot for her family and wanted to use this talent of hers to earn a profit. “I was baking a lot for my family. And I was thinking about how I could make a profit out of it. And I said, oh, what if I start selling them at school?” Bogale says. Bogale first began by giving out cookies for free to spread the word about her business. Ever since then, Bogale routinely bakes on Sundays and sells her goods the following morning. 

Bogale’s biggest challenge, similar to Erlebancher, is balancing her business and education. She explains that there are some Sundays when she isn't able to bake because she has tests to study for or homework to do. “But if I’m free, I love it. If I’m busy, I prioritize school,” Bogale says.

Similar to other businesses, Bogale's main platform of advertisement is Instagram. Bogale posts stories to announce the sell date and location of her baked goods. Because of Instagram's popularity, posting easily spreads the word around, especially with the help of her friends. 

“It’s definitely a good source [of advertisement] because … almost every teenager has Instagram,” Bogale says.

Though Bogale doesn’t have many plans to further her business after high school, she would love to take culinary programs or volunteer at a bakery. 

Blazers continue to create an atmosphere for thriving entrepreneurship and creativity. Whether starting from purpose or boredom, many Blazers have used social media and support from their family and friends to launch their ideas into reality. These businesses are an inspiration to all Blazers that they can accomplish their entrepreneurship dreams, even if they begin small.

Last updated: Nov. 15, 2023, 2:17 p.m.

Tags: Blair Blazers

Bethel Ameha. Hi, my name is Bethel Ameha and I'm on the writing staff. I play two sports at Blair, both soccer and volleyball. I enjoy reading and listening to music. I love going out with my friends as well! More »

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