By: Daniel Carson — Community Editor
With video-sharing media platforms on the rise, many American teens have started their own small businesses, using social media to reach out to potential customers.
Young entrepreneurs sell clothing, jewelry, and other items. Some teens sell re-worked and thrifted clothes to promote sustainable shopping, while many others design their own brands entirely.
Advertising through social media puts sellers in direct contact with potential customers. Video-sharing platforms like TikTok and Instagram can expose marketing content to viewers by the tens of thousands entirely for free. This has provided many teens with the opportunity to start their own businesses without having to spend money on advertising their products.
Salvatore Santelli is the 17-year-old creator, owner, and operator of his clothing company, Ensume Apparel. He sells streetwear of all kinds: hoodies, t-shirts, crewnecks, shorts, joggers, hats, and bags.
Santelli says that he uses Instagram and TikTok as his primary marketing method. “They are much more effective and practical compared to alternative options,” Santelli said.
“Although I spend a lot of time marketing, I spend little to no money,” he added.
The small business Instagram account, coolkidvintage, agreed with Santelli. “I advertise my business through shoutout for shoutout with other accounts and I get a lot of advertising through reels,” Coolkidvintage said.
“Reels are a great way for my business to be seen because it reaches new potential customers through their explore page,” they added.
Coolkidvintage sells thrifted, handmade, and reworked clothes. They say they’ve always loved sewing and thrifting clothes and enjoy being able to share them with their customers.
Sydney, the 17-year-old owner of Pretty Pins and Co., outlined the steps to marketing a small business online.
- Reach out to people close to you. “I first told my friends and family about my small business and Instagram,” she said.
- Engage in the online community. “ I started to follow other small businesses and become more familiar with the community,” Sydney said.
- Educate yourself about advertising methods. “It’s definitely hard making content but I keep researching and learning,” she said.
- Connect with your customers. “I try to let my followers get to know me so they know who they are supporting,” said Sydney.
Sydney says that her business started to grow as her Instagram account gained attention. “I was growing pretty slowly at first until I had some [videos] get a lot of views,” she said.
Another small business Instagram account, Amberstickers is run by two high school upperclassmen. They sell eco-friendly stickers, keychains, and mugs.
Amberstickers says that creating a small business online is an amazing opportunity, but any teen looking to start their own should be prepared for it not to work out. “Be sure you’re willing to spend a whole lot of time, money, and effort on something that may not pay off. Do it because you enjoy the craft and not for the money,” they said.
But Santelli says that, as a teen, now is the perfect time to start a business because of your financial freedom. “When you are a teen, you do not have as many financial responsibilities as an adult, so it is the perfect time to venture with your money,” Santelli said.
“I would advise teens thinking about starting their own small business to do it without hesitation. The learning experience is like no other. You have nothing to lose,” he added.
Coolkidvintage agrees with Santelli. “I would say to just do it. It can be daunting at first especially if you compare your account to other businesses, but just be consistent and you will do great,” they said.