Student entrepreneurs establish businesses early

Senior Abram Isola is pictured on his website, Isola designs and develops websites for many clients.

Alex Boutrous

Senior Abram Isola is pictured on his website, Isola designs and develops websites for many clients.

Alex Boutrous, Managing Editor

“I’d had some friends come and ask me about making them a website. That’s kind of how it started. They started paying me to handle their websites and it just sort of took off from there,” said senior Abram Isola. Rather than working a typical high school job like babysitting or scooping ice cream, Isola and former 2013 graduate Sinjun Strom have started successful enterprises – while still in high school.

Isola has been working with computers and computer programming systems since he was nine or ten. He runs Abram Isola Development, working with people to design websites, develop social media marketing, and perform analytical website trafficking.

Isola has worked with clients such as LaChapelle Design Works ( in Burnsville, MN, and Sieben Edmunds Law ( in Mendota Heights: “A design is made that fits with the clients branding… ultimately, the client has a huge say in their website,” Isola outlined.

Isola said what first interested him in website design was that, “when I started to do something, I had no clue what I was doing. It was a very interesting thing to me that I could make a computer do something and using social media I could get people to… like something, or go to a certain place.” He is completely self taught in using web standards like HTML and XHTML.

“Most social movements still use Facebook. Twitter is more business and personal use, LinkedIn is completely business use,” said Isola. Isola is very business oriented and frequents LinkedIn. “I don’t really prefer one over the other, but it really depends on what you’re trying to do.”

Isola learned that “Using social media I could get people to you know, like something, or go to a certain place. It’s a very interesting way of doing things.”

Isola has had his fair share of challenges trying to build a business when many people have “been in advertising since before I was born,” he said. Isola explained that people in the over-sixty crowd often times doubt his abilities, seeing as Isola will not turn eighteen until April.

Isola manages to take it all in stride: “They’re in a completely different world. They’re not into social media… they are because of the modern age but really it’s still completely different. Their kind of advertisement is different from what I do,” he remarked.

A recent South graduate, Storm got her entrepreneurial start in high school too: “[Freelance photography work] helped me realize that I can do [photography] and after experiencing it, I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she explained in an email.

Strom got her start taking senior photos. “[It was] weird, I never thought I’d be into that but I actually started having seniors approach me so I decided to try it out.” Since the class of 2012, Strom has photographed countless seniors.

“I take photos for people because I love getting to know them, capturing personalities, and it does bring in a little extra money, of course,” wrote Strom. She described herself as having: “a creative need that I always have to fill.”

Strom is lucky to have started a business that both satisfies her creatively and allows her to make money and build her portfolio at a young age. Strom has a thoughtful and outgoing personality that benefits her when working with clients: “I also love meeting new people and really getting to know them,” she said.

After graduating from South in 2013, Strom began classes at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri where she majors in photography. She hopes to get a job working as a photographer for a business while building up her personal enterprise on the side. “Getting a good reputation takes time and I am most certainly not trying to become a starving artist,” joked Strom.

While she doesn’t have a specific company in mind, she would like to continue with portraiture. In addition to using social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to showcase her photography, Strom runs a website ( featuring her portfolio of work, along with personal projects, and videos she has made.

For those interested in starting their own enterprise, Isola recommends having at least one adult to advise and/or mentor you. “[Business] is a hard world to be in not being an adult, but if you have [an adult] to help you it makes a world of difference.”