NEW BRITAIN – It was a busy day for young local business owners who were out and about selling their wares at the city’s weekly farmers’ market on Wednesday.
Designated as “Youth Day” at the market, Desire Perez, a New Britain High School student who spearheaded the event, said it was important to her the community witnesses young people who have business ideas and are putting those ideas into action.
“I knew the farmers’ market was really popular and thought it was a good place to start getting some attention for young people’s businesses,” said Perez, 17. “I have a lot of friends who have their own businesses. This is a way to showcase those businesses and let the city know that we have voices too. Just because we’re young, it doesn’t mean our opinions don’t count or that we don’t know what’s going on.”
Perez, along with many New Britain youths, is involved with the city’s Local Prevention Council, which aims to support middle and high school students by coordinating positive activities with all community partners city wide. Perez is one of the Youth Council leaders as well as a summer youth employment student working with the city’s Community Service office.
“I hear too much from older people who don’t feel like young people ever do anything,” she said. “So this is a way for us to express ourselves, promote our businesses, and let everyone know that you can always achieve what you put your mind to.”
From T-shirts to lemonade, homemade lip gloss and handmade jewelry, four student vendors attracted residents and visitors who meandered around the socially distanced farmer’s market from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Central Park.
Sitting behind a table with pots of lip gloss and body scrub displayed, sister-duo Alexia Vailey, 17 and Joneida DeJesus, 14, explained to customers what their products are all about.
“We got a lot of questions about moisturizing and hydration,” Vailey said. “All of our scrubs are made with sugar and natural oils like sweet almond, coconut and grape seed.”
“I’m really into protecting the environment, so we wanted to make sure all of our ingredients are natural,” DeJesus added.
The sisters both currently attend Bristol Central High School but continue to be involved with the city they once called home.
“We grew up in New Britain mostly so this is home to us,” Vailey said. “We like to give back to this community. We also want to use this opportunity to expand our brand and save money for the future.”
DeJesus agreed, stating she loves being involved in the city and hopes to continue to expand their business as opportunities comes across.
“I also wanted to help my sister out and the market is a great place to get started,” she said.
Showcasing her T-shirt business, Printingdraft, Vanda Tomaskova had piles of shirts ready to go and she said her passion for clothing design brought her to the market.
“I’ve been making shirts off and on for seven months but it wasn’t until a month ago that I really started to push it,” said Tomaskova, 17.
The New Britain High School student said her stepfather helped her get started with a T-shirt press and she began taking orders from friends and family.
“I promoted my stuff on Snapchat and I have my own website,” she said. “Desire saw it and asked if I wanted to have a table here and I said yes. I definitely hope to be able to expand into more designs in the future and continue the business.”
For Mallory Deprey, the city’s director of Community Services, she said it was awesome to see all the young people out with their businesses.
“It’s so great seeing groups of high school students helping each other out and supporting each other’s businesses,” she said. “A lot of them already said they’re interested in coming back and it’s exciting for them to be here.”
Contact Catherine Shen at firstname.lastname@example.org