The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Campanile

The Campanile

The Campanile

Students cultivate passions into businesses, develop real world skills

Tyler Wong

 A crochet hook weaves in and out of loops of pastel pink yarn, interlocking a single string of yarn together and forming the foundation of a tank top. A camera flashes a red light telling senior Coral Johnson she is being filmed. Once she finishes her new creation, Johnson uploads her video as a tutorial to her YouTube Channel Coral j. For Johnson, the reality of creating tutorials has become a full-time business and job.

Johnson is one of few who began her crochet business after diving deeper into online tutorials to build on basic stitches and patterns she had learned when crocheting was still just a fun pastime. The thought of turning a hobby into a business had not even crossed Johnson’s mind until she began thinking about getting a job and wanting to earn money. 

“I have always been a crafty person with this idea that you can make something yourself and  loved this idea of living off your own means,” Johnson said “That’s always been a part of me.” 

Johnson said her childhood consisted of many nights spent learning to crochet with her mother. Though this tradition between them is now a sweet memory, Johnson said her love for the activity never ended, prompting her to continue to make endless crocheted tops, bags, and hearts which she gave out last Valentine’s Day. 

Johnson also said part of her motivation to start her own business began when she started seeing a problem with online crochet designs. Most of what she saw in endless tutorials wasn’t suitable to wear outside, motivating her to start designing everyday patterns and posting her own tutorials on YouTube. 

“I would look online for patterns for how to make different clothes, and I would get frustrated because a lot of these patterns you aren’t able to wear outside,” Johnson said. “You might wear it once, but it is more of a statement piece than something practical for everyday wear.”

Initially, Johnson said she thought her passion was crocheting for herself,  however, after joining the Crochet Club and attending a Palo Alto Library workshop, she discovered she loved teaching others how to crochet. 

“It’s just really exciting to see people’s faces light up when they finally understand a stitch, especially,” Johnson said. “People get frustrated when they can’t get it, and it’s easier to learn when someone is sitting and going through each step with you.” 

While Johnson’s passion stemmed from a childhood hobby, junior Zachary Crystal found his love for glassblowing through his brother. Watching his brother, Crystal said he was captivated by the beautiful glass pieces he would create and was in awe of the effort put into making them.

“When I was in middle school, my brother would always come back home and talk about what he did in ceramics and show us the vases he made,” Crystal said. “It was cool to hear how passionate he was about something, like it was his true calling, especially when he brought home his first Murrine vase. It was what made me decide to take the class, and it turns out I love glassblowing just like my brother.”

Crystal also said he decided to try and sell his glasswork piece after furthering his interest in glassblowing after taking an inspiring course in Advanced Ceramics. While continuing to blow glass, he said he has mainly been advancing his skills in creating paperweights. 

“(Glassblowing) is such a unique skill that not many get to develop,” Crystal said. “Making paperweights is one of the things I love the most about glass blowing, as they are simple, artistic, practical art pieces that don’t take that long or are that difficult. However, you can be as creative as you want with putting any color or shape of shard when mixing it into the glass.” 

For junior Jonathan Nguyen, it was his AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science classes that helped introduce him to his passion. 

“While I already knew some information about computer science, this was my first real computer science class which, in the end, was really interesting and invigorated me to learn more about this topic,” Nguyen said. “My teacher assigned small projects to help us build our knowledge and foundation of Java. Having smaller projects helps take highly complex concepts and break them down into smaller digestible ones.” 

These courses inspired and encouraged Nguyen to begin researching and exploring different artificial intelligence platforms and combine computer science with another passion, baseball. As he researched, Nguyen said he realized his early-stage project of designing a platform where baseball players can simulate throwing a baseball through wasn’t an unrealistic dream but a genuine one that he could accomplish by himself.

“As I continued to research I began branching out into further concepts and realized my uncertainty wasn’t from lacking skill but rather the voice inside me telling me I couldn’t, when deep down I knew I had the capability and mindset to achieve my dream,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen said he understands when students question if they are ready to start a business as he was once in a similar position. Nguyen said that while students may have a myriad of questions, he said there is only one crystal clear answer that anyone can give. 

“Just dive right in,” Nguyen said. “I had no idea where to start and was unsure of what I was doing in the beginning stages, but I just kept going and it started becoming clearer and clearer.” 


Leave a Comment
Donate to The Campanile

Your donation will support the student journalists of Palo Alto High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Isabelle Carlsen, Staff Writer
Tyler Wong, Photo Editor
Donate to The Campanile

Comments (0)

All The Campanile Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *