From School to Startups: FLHS Alumni Create Small Businesses

Do you remember running a lemonade stand as a kid? Or maybe even charging neighbors to shovel snow? The idea of starting a “business” as a child or young adult may seem a bit silly, even unrealistic, but some recent Fair Lawn graduates have proven that no matter how young you are, your dreams can become reality.

A couple Fair Lawn High School alumni are taking the initiative to pursue their passions by starting their own small businesses from scratch. Alexa-Rae Mariani, owner of a custom cookie business called A Dough Able, and Briana Honor, owner of a soy candle business called Bri’s Crib Creations, took simple ideas they are passionate about, and are now growing their companies on social media all on their own.

I always loved baking and creative work but could never figure out my true desire for what I wanted to do in life… After just being so dissatisfied and feeling like I wasn't being used for my abilities, I decided to take the risk and do what actually makes me happy,” said Mariani.

Alexa-Rae Mariani, who graduated from Fair Lawn High School in 2017, launched A Dough Able three months ago, first posting on Instagram on August 17, 2021 to announce she was starting to accept orders. Mariani bakes and decorates personalized cookies for events, including birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions. She has been operating out of her home since starting, but has her sights set on opening her own small space in the future.

Briana Honor, a 2021 Fair Lawn High School graduate, created Bri’s Crib Creations in July of 2021, operating out of her home using all of her own equipment. Each soy wax candle is hand-poured into crystal tumblers decorated with dried flowers, and includes a healing crystal with the candle. She has been a collector of crystals and candles for years; some of her impressive collection includes crystals from France, Germany, and Indonesia, and some high-end crystals, such as Lenox and Tiffany brands.

“Over the pandemic, I got really into spiritual healing using crystals and other methods… I also found myself buying candles way too often, and never enjoying them as much as I did when I bought them. I decided it was time to get creative, I had just graduated high school, what was there to lose?” Honor said.

One element both Mariani and Honor had in common was underestimating the time and effort needed to start a business. They both echoed the sentiment that certain components, such as the manufacturing, finances, and marketing, posed difficulties for their business pursuits.

“Just starting out can be hard! Building up business and getting orders takes a lot of work and putting yourself out there, they don't just always come to you,” said Mariani.

Another aspect these owners have had to learn and adapt to is balancing all the different pieces of their lives. Running a business is a full-time job for some, but for younger entrepreneurs like Mariani and Honor, most have other responsibilities like school, relationships, and other jobs.

“Aside from my small business, I have two other jobs, both being [at] pizzerias. At one of them, I've advanced to a higher position so I'm always balancing life with my crystals! I am also a full-time college student, majoring in Interior Design,” Honor said.

As the sole owners and employees of their businesses, the role these two have taken on comes with plenty of adversity and struggle. Difficulties such as the process of testing and perfecting their products, shipping the products carefully, and managing their time and orders in an organized fashion have become just another component of their businesses, as well as an opportunity to learn, adapt, and grow.

“Deciding to take this leap into starting A Dough Able has given me confidence and strength. It has taught me to believe in myself and my talents, and most importantly it makes me happy to be doing what I love,” Mariani said.

The experience and lessons Mariani and Honor gained from taking that leap into the business world are ones they use to this day in their everyday lives, and to anyone considering taking the same leap, Mariani had some advice.

“DO IT! Life is way too short to be unhappy and trying to fit someone else's mold of what you should be. Find your passion and see where it takes you… It's not always easy, and there are plenty of tough times, but take the risk, you never know how it may unfold… Just be patient, believe in yourself, and give it all you got!”

 

A Dough Able: @a.dough.able.cookies (Instagram)

Bri’s Crib Creations: @briscribcreations (Instagram)

 

Header Credit: Alexa-Rae Mariani, Briana Honor

Thumbnail Credit: Alexa-Rae Mariani, Briana Honor

 

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