Our time in prolonged self-isolation has motivated many of those at home to start their ‘side hustle’, meaning an extra type of employment usually pertaining to one’s passion or hobby. While a ‘side hustle’ is usually taken up by adults alongside their regular career, there is one teen entrepreneur that has been side hustling all her life – a high school girl named Lillian Marsh. While she makes change, or money in this case, by selling handmade crafts on her Etsy account, she also makes change by associating her works with activism and charity.
DESIGN AND FABRICATION
Lillian ‘Lilly’ Marsh is a fifteen year old sophomore at High Tech High School, one of the star students in the D|Fab (Design and Fabrication) Major, and is part of JSA, Student Council, MFOLNJ, Hiking Club, and Sustainable Design.
The D|FAB Academy offers classes such as Industrial Design, Maker Lab, Architecture, and Fine Art, all utilizing skills that Lilly had already picked up prior to high school. She finds that the schoolwork and assignments in D|FAB also help her tap into her creative side, which helps her fuse passion with education.
One class she particularly expressed interest in was Industrial Design, which is essentially product creation and manufacturing. It correlated to the homemade crafts she had been selling on her Etsy account in middle school, and from then on Lilly knew she had found her home.
Lilly started her own Etsy account, TumblingBooks, back in 2018. In her middle school days, she was loaded up on free time, and channeled her energy into crafts. She created several objects using various art mediums. Although her work was becoming well known throughout the local community, she wanted to move towards a more professional platform.
She turned towards Etsy, the efficient, handmade e-commerce site that placed her products on the perfect pedestal, with a blinding round spotlight to showcase it. The site made shipping, displaying information, and advertising/networking extremely simple for her young age. She started out by selling little necklaces and bracelets made from old book pages.
PINK HATS FOR FEMINISM!
Lilly’s mom went to Washington D.C. for the Women’s March in 2018, where women would stand up for gender equality while wearing pink knitted hats. Lilly was unable to attend the event, but still wanted to participate in the cause that she personally held near and dear to her heart.
And so, she created. She made polymer clay hat necklaces in which the charm resembled the pink hats, and donated 100% of the proceeds to Women Rising, an organization helping women in need in Jersey City, NJ. She ended up raising over one thousand dollars, and was invited to the organization’s Founder’s Day and delivered a speech on her accomplishments. Lilly even received a plaque in her honor, and got to meet several people on the staff of Women Rising.
STAY AT HOME, STAY IN STYLE
Lilly’s current project is for an incredible cause – she handcrafted beautiful polymer clay earrings, in which half the proceeds go to meals for the homeless provided by the Spa Diner in Hoboken, New Jersey. It’s a charitable, easy, and stylish way to help out local businesses during the pandemic, and those without shelter during our time of struggle.
You can shop for Lilly’s earrings on her Etsy account in the link below, with each unique pair going for $20.00!
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL
In addition to selling her handmade creations, Lilly also takes up a number of other hobbies and skills. She is into activism, expressing her thoughts through clubs like JSA and March for Our Lives, and she contributes to her school community through High Tech’s Student Council. Outside of school, Lilly loves to do photography. To the left is an image shot in Lisboa, Portugal. She can also sew, sculpt, paint with watercolor and acrylics, play piano and guitar, sing in choir, draw pencil sketches, calligraphy, and digital art – in fact, she is Zenerations’ official graphic artist. She has a very open-minded and broad viewpoint on the meaning of ‘art’ itself.
“When I did an interview for high school, someone asked me what my favorite form of art was. I couldn’t put my finger on a single one – art is such an infinite spectrum.”Lilly Marsh, on the possibilities of art
DO IT. WHY NOT?
Lilly Marsh is impressively entrepreneurial, a feat she accomplished at such a young age, and it depicts exactly how Generation Z as a whole is progressive and financially forward. She’s gaining new life skills and learning experiences with each passing day, harnessing her creativity as her golden chariot to ride around the ever-changing world. With the simple acts of molding polymer clay, bending and twisting metal wires, and printing out aesthetic packaging, she helps tell the story of yet another woman, yet another homeless person, yet another person in need. Each charm, each necklace, each bracelet symbolizes her unwavering devotion to provide hope and joy for just about anyone.
Her advice to those that are young and looking to start a business? It’s simple, and it’s here to take it with you after you’ve exited out of the site and closed your smartphone, and ventured off into your new entrepreneurial journey.