Students balance school with their own businesses


Cade Wharton

Entrepreneur and student Zach Estell (12) talks on the phone.

Zach Estell

For most students, social media is used as a platform to share pictures and keep in touch with others. For Zach Estell, it’s a platform for his marketing business.

Estell manages his clients’ social media profiles, aiming to grow their number of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest; several influencer pages have grown to have more than 100k followers under his expertise.

In addition to social media management, Estell is also in the online dropshipping business. He orders products from wholesalers and sells them to customers, profiting off the marking up of prices.

He also runs a tech service company repairing computers and technology, an idea he got from his time working at Target. A constant influx of people would come in asking for computer help at the electronics department counter.

He officially launched his businesses when he was 16, but his affinity for all things technology goes way back.

“When I was seven years old, I was doing website design,” he said. “I taught myself HTML and CSS, and I started making websites for people.”

Running his own business gives Estell complete freedom and jurisdiction; he prefers being his own boss and working by himself.

“Ever since I was little, I never wanted to work for anyone,” he said. “I just thought, working for someone else, that would kill me. That’s why I quickly left [my job at] Target.”

He is known by his peers as a diligent individual.

“I admire how hardworking Zach is; he went from working at McAllister’s to being his own boss. It’s inspiring to see how far he has come,” Estell’s friend, Abby Kamai (12), commented.

Balancing his businesses and school is a daunting task. Estell said he puts school first and works on his businesses once his schoolwork is finished. He wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to work on his businesses and then leaves his house for early bird P.E. class.

Estell is graduating a semester early and plans to major in business at his university — which he is yet to decide on. He also plans to continue running his businesses after leaving VHHS; his marketing, tech and dropshipping businesses are still developing and growing.

“For me, when it’s fully matured, I’m thinking it’s a Fortune 500 company,” he said.    

Dion Janoyev

Walking down the halls of VHHS, one might see students sporting clothing from Dion Janoyev’s clothing brand, LYFE. Janoyev has always had a passion for clothing, so in eighth grade, he officially launched his streetwear and graphic tee line.

“Clothing is like art,” he said.

He thoroughly enjoys fashion and always keeps himself up-to-date on what’s new. Owning his own clothing line gives him freedom with what he wears.

“I make clothing that I want to wear and see others wear,” he shared. “Everyone wears clothing, but not a lot of people get to choose every little detail.”

Jumpstarting LYFE was no easy feat. Janoyev recalled when he first ordered twenty shirts to be sold and had trouble finding customers to purchase them.

“Nothing comes easy,” he said. “If you want something, you need to persistently work on it.”

He always puts schoolwork first and spends his free time making and designing clothes. Alongside clothing, he also makes music under the name LYFE on SoundCloud.

In the future, Janoyev aspires to do bigger things with his brand. Currently, he has his apparel manufactured by a company in California. In the future, he hopes to manufacture his clothing in his own factory.

“Clothing is constantly evolving,” he said. “It’s interesting to see where it’s going to go next, and I want to be a part of that.”