Rifle High School student pays for spring break trip to Europe by becoming entrepreneur
Experience spurs desires for student to one day ‘be my own boss’
Zoe Hisel didn’t have enough money to go on a class trip to Europe. So she sprung to action.
Rifle High School this year offered students a program that sent them to France, Italy and Spain for spring break. Only snag was, the 16-year-old junior didn’t get any extra cash for round-trip tickets.
But Hisel was determined. She always wanted to travel abroad. She wanted to see European architecture. She said she wanted to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with her friends.
After a slight panic over how to quickly make money while balancing school work and extracurriculars, suddenly Hisel, inspired by Rifle High School’s mascot, came up with an idea: Make and sell crocheted bears.
“I didn’t have enough time to get an actual job,” she said. “So, it was stressful for a while because I had to figure out how to make the money.”
Little did Hisel know that her impromptu business venture would produce a $500 return on her investment. Using her passion for watching crochet videos on Youtube, some acrylic yarn and toy stuffing, Hisel took about four hours to crochet and assemble one single stuffed bear.
Playing on the Rifle girls varsity basketball team, Hisel took her supplies and spent time on the bus to away games creating her bears.
“I always kind of thought it would be embarrassing, but no one really noticed,” Hisel said. “People I’d sit next to would ask what I was making. I actually had a few people say that they wanted one, so I’d make a few for the people on my team.”
Hisel said she also took out an advertisement on social media and began selling her products. This handy business move, combined with her savings account, helped her accumulate enough financial capital to become a world traveler.
“I have been privileged in that me and my family have gone to Hawaii multiple times, and we’ve gone to California on a lot of road trips,” Hisel said. “But this was the first time I’ve been out of the country and the first time anyone in my immediate family has, so it was really exciting.”
Hisel explored Europe with her friends and teacher liaisons, and now she can say one of her favorite European countries to visit is Italy.
“We were only there for like two days, but we went to a place called the Cinque Terre, which is like a beautiful, few villages on the coast, with buildings that are made into the cliffside,” she said. “And then I’d say Barcelona.”
Hisel’s mother, Emily, an instructor at Rifle High School, said her daughter creates about two bears at a time. Meanwhile, Zoe started crocheting other animals as well, including turtles and cows.
“She had somebody ask if she’d make her a horse,” Emily said. “And she found a pattern and it turned out amazing.
“The bears were the big ticket but, at the same time, she’s not just focused on one thing. She’s able to diversify.”
Emily also described her daughter as independent, smart and “very resourceful.”
“Things mean so much more when you have to kind of rely on yourself to get it done,” Emily said. “And she’s kind of at that age where she’s able to do incredible things.
“Like, she taught herself this skill that I have no idea how she does it.”
Hisel’s initial business venture to crochet stuffed bears for purchase has triggered the entrepreneur in her. She said she’s looking to continue to crochet stuffed animals and sell them at local farmers markets and craft fairs.
Hisel acknowledged that her parents pushing her to personally make the money — and her desire to continue to do it — is something of value.
“I think it did mean a lot because now I know that I can do this kind of stuff — I want to keep making and selling stuff,” she said. “It’s just been really helpful to get that experience of doing it myself instead of leaning on them.”
“I think this was very helpful, because I do want to have my own business of some sort, or be my own boss in a way.”
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