Summerville High School junior Victoria Turner always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. It wasn’t until she started taking business classes that her dream became a reality.
“When I saw her up there, I was just overwhelmed because I saw her blossom,” Victoria’s mother, Leander Baker, said of watching her daughter at the Youth Entrepreneurship South Carolina county business plan competition in May.
Last week, Victoria participated at the state level of the YEScarolina contest. Although she did not place, her photography business, Confetti Studios, is still bringing her out of her shell and having a positive influence.
Summerville High School business teacher Zenovia Frazier said the entrepreneurship classes “take a quiet, deep-seeded passion and give them (quiet students) a way they can express it.”
Victoria uses the confidence she gained from her business to uplift people in need by providing them with free portraits.
“Everybody needs to be loved. A lot of people are insecure. I used to be. If I could make someone feel good about themselves I would do it,” Victoria said.
When Victoria was 7 years old, she and her mother stayed in a homeless shelter for a week. Baker decided to leave home after a disagreement with her mother and took Victoria with her. While there, Victoria’s favorite pink coat was stolen.
Instead of becoming upset, Victoria consoled her mother.
“She said to me, ‘If you and grandma argue, I’ll hold your mouth for you,’ ” Baker recalled with a laugh. “That inspired me to go back home, get it back together and move on with our lives.”
Baker said she is thankful for the YEScarolina mentors and teachers who have helped her daughter become a confident young woman.
Victoria’s entrepreneurship teacher Jonathan Rushin said it took some coaxing to get her out of her shell and present her business plan.
And Victoria almost missed out on the opportunity to compete in class for the county business plan competition.
She realized, days before the project was due, that her initial idea of starting a spa would be too expensive to create right now. She chose Confetti Studios at the last minute.
“I chose confetti because it makes everyone feel good. Confetti makes people smile,” she said of her portrait business.
On the day of presentations, she lost the flash drive with her project. She was surprised when a friend found the device and handed it to her at her locker.
“There must be a reason why I’m doing this,” Victoria thought. Then she found it.
Victoria began seeking out people at homeless shelters who could use some uplifting. Then her aunt came to her about the Berst family that she had met while volunteering.
Kimberly Berst and her four children are staying in a Summerville shelter after her husband’s sudden death. She is getting job training from the shelter to get back on her feet.
Victoria used part of the $200 she won from the first YEScarolina competition to take the Berst family clothes shopping so they could feel good for their free photo shoot.
“It’s good to know people like her are willing to help,” Kimberly Berst said of Victoria.
Baker said she is not ashamed when her daughter tells the story of their time in the shelter.
“I was able to go home and start again. Sometimes people are scared because they didn’t do things right and they are afraid of what their family might say,” Baker said.
Victoria said she plans on continuingly with Confetti Studios beyond her business plan competition. Her dream is to go to business school at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or jmcduffie@ postandcourier.com.