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October 26, 2023

Zhang continues entrepreneurship over next four at Cornell

Minori Kunte
Coppell High School senior Ava Zhang develops her skills in pattern design, manufacturing and time management skills by expanding her online store, Juicy Candy. Zhang plans to attend Cornell University as a global development major. Photo illustration by Minori Kunte.

Coppell High School senior Ava Zhang has recently committed to Cornell University as a global development major and simultaneously runs her successful Etsy business, Juicy Candy Design. Zhang’s entrepreneurial journey sparked from a common and irritating inconvenience of not being able to identify which suitcase was hers while traveling. Thus, she began looking into the process of manufacturing labels and tags, slowly learning how to run an online store. 

When Zhang started her business, her days consisted of adding new items to her website, responding to customer inquiries, managing shipments and brainstorming marketing strategies. Despite the growing responsibilities Zhang had as an entrepreneur and high school junior, she persevered. In more than a  year, her site views began to increase as well as her profits. Being an incoming student at Cornell University for the class of 2028, Zhang was accepted as a global development major, while being on the pre-vet track, specifically choosing Cornell for its prestigious vet school. 

Can you share what sparked the idea for Juicy Candy Design?

I’ve always been adventurous and curious, willing to explore new horizons. One day, a lost suitcase during a trip sparked an idea: why not create unique and instantly recognizable travel tags that people can personalize? With this inspiration, my entrepreneurial journey began. 

My journey began with pattern design. During my free moments, I’d immerse myself in designing graphics on my laptop, and after numerous iterations, I proudly crafted six distinct designs. The next challenge was finding a manufacturer willing to bring my creations to life, and after some searching, I secured a factory willing to handle small orders. With this, Juicy Candy Design, my online store, began. My passion for exploration and the desire to address a common inconvenience motivated me to pursue this opportunity.

What were your most effective time management strategies to balance your academics, extracurriculars and online business?

My days were a whirlwind of adding new items, responding to customers, managing shipments and brainstorming marketing strategies. Despite the chaos, I persevered, and in just over a year, my store obtained over 10,000 views and yielded a $5,000 profit. One strategy that was highly effective for me was emphasizing my “peace times” during passing periods and breaks throughout the school day. These brief intervals provided invaluable opportunities to tackle small tasks for my business, such as responding to customer inquiries, updating product listings or brainstorming marketing ideas. By prioritizing and utilizing these pockets of time efficiently, I was able to maintain momentum in both my academic and entrepreneurial pursuits.

What are some key marketing strategies that helped Juicy Candy Design grow?

I have learned that beyond simply establishing an online presence, strategic marketing played a big role in expanding Juicy Candy Design. One key strategy was selecting the right platform and product niche to target a specific audience of travelers seeking personalized accessories. Taking advantage of resourceful platforms like Etsy allowed me to tap into a ready-made community of potential customers. Additionally, investing in targeted marketing efforts, such as email campaigns and social media promotions, helped to raise brand awareness and drive traffic to my store. By consistently engaging with customers and highlighting the unique value proposition of my products, I was able to have a loyal customer base and gain growth for Juicy Candy Design. 

What influenced your decision to commit to Cornell University, and how do you plan to integrate your entrepreneurial experience into your studies?

Cornell University’s reputation for academic excellence as an Ivy League school and its diversity of opportunities were reasons for my decision to commit. I’m particularly drawn to Cornell’s supportive community and emphasis on innovation. When I think about this new chapter after high school, I plan to include my entrepreneurial experience in my studies by pursuing specific coursework and research projects that align with my interests in business and global development. 

What are your goals, both academically and professionally?

This journey taught me to step out of my comfort zone and believe in my potential, preparing me for the diverse and challenging environment of higher education. Academically, I hope to do well in my studies at Cornell, exploring subjects that fall into the global development and business track. Professionally, I aim to further establish Juicy Candy Design as a recognized brand known for its innovative products and commitment to sustainability. Without a doubt, balancing my entrepreneurial pursuits with my academic responsibilities will require careful time management and prioritization. However, I’m confident that by maintaining a disciplined approach and leveraging the resources available at Cornell, I can continue to pursue both passions simultaneously. Ultimately, I see myself contributing to more entrepreneurial initiatives, and I’m excited for the journey ahead.

Follow @rhea_choud and @CHSCampusNews on X.

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About the Contributors
Rhea Choudhary
Rhea Choudhary, Staff Writer
Rhea Choudhary is a junior at Coppell High School; she first took a step in D115 in order to pursue photography for The Sidekick. Despite her initial intentions, she is now a second year member, returning as a staff writer. At first, thought she wasn't the best fit for writing, but after deciding to give it a shot, she soon realized that she let her fear keep her from finding what she truly enjoys doing!  As an avid show binger, Rhea’s top three shows include Gossip Girl, Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill, as she can go on for hours talking about any of them. She also loves watching classic Hindi movies (with lots of iconic songs and actors in them), along with consistently enjoying listening to her 24-hour Bollywood music playlist, on a loop. Her favorite food is drunken noodles and sushi, along with loving any sweets that contain milk chocolate or caramel. As a member of HOSA, Rhea hopes to pursue a future career in medicine, specifically to become an oncologist. Rhea has completed her Bharatanatyam arangetram, a solo debut/graduation, and is still a dedicated dancer. As an only child that keeps the volume in her house very high at all times, Rhea’s number one friend is Teddy Graham, her mini goldendoodle. Feel free to reach Rhea at [email protected] or follow her on X @rhea_choud.
Minori Kunte
Minori Kunte, Staff Cartoonist
Minori Kunte is a junior and the staff cartoonist for The Sidekick. She spends her time singing for the Madrigals and A Capella. In her free time outside of school, she enjoys painting scenic locations she’s spotted and making vlogs of her vacations for herself and her family to watch. Her favorite movie of all time is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. She enjoys watching Anne With An E and The 100, while snacking on Brookside Acai Dark Chocolate and Skinny Pop. She feels inspired when looking at art made by Anna-Laura Sullivan and Bob Ross. You can contact her at [email protected]

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