Charleston Collegiate junior Carlos Rodriguez does not think helping his mother start her own business is anything special.
“This is just something normal kids should be doing to help out their parents,” said 17-year-old Carlos.
Carlos began teaching his mother the basics of business when he started taking an entrepreneurship class this school year taught by Head of School Hacker Burr.
Burr describes Carlos as a “quiet kid. He’s very thoughtful.” He said he realized Carlos was taking his lessons home when his mother was passing out cards in the hallway for her sewing business. Carlos also would frequent his office for advice on business topics they had not yet covered in class.
“She has a gift. She told me one day she would like to make a business of it, so we sat down and started discussing it,” Carlos said of his mother who was a seamstress when they lived in Mexico.
Carlos said he teaches his mother about investing in her business so that it will sustain itself. And he said one of the most important things people forget when starting a business is to “follow your dreams.”
“What we work for as educators is to see the effects in the lives of students, their families and communities. ... He’s very thankful for what he has here. He’s not just letting the experience sit with him,” Burr said.
Teaching his mother not only benefits her business but it gives them time to bond.
“Kids my age don’t interact with their parents. Sometimes they (parents) have important things to say, but (the kids) don’t listen,” Carlos said.
Carlos said he decided to take the business class because Burr recommended it to him. Burr, who was trained by YEScarolina this summer to teach the class, noticed that Carlos had a skill for photography and told him he could turn his passion into a business.
“Ever since I was little, I loved taking photos,” Carlos said.
Each student in the class has to come up with a business plan. Carlos’ business, CR’s Fotoblast, started making a profit about two months ago. When he first started, he had to borrow the school’s camera. Since then, he has photographed six events, mostly birthday parties, school and religious events, that allowed him to make enough money to purchase his own camera and printer.
“Business is going pretty well,” Carlos said.
Carlos said he is not completely done with developing his business. He still has to make business cards and fliers. He even plans to partner with classmate Connor McCarty to expand his business with more marketing.
Not only does Carlos give back to his family, but he also plans to give back to the community. He hopes to donate his time by working with MUSC Children’s Hospital to take photos of kids and their families for birthdays and other events for free.
“I want to show people I’m not just in it for the money,” Carlos said.
Burr said Charleston Collegiate has been teaching entrepreneurship classes for about six years and it is required for students to graduate.
“We’re training kids to be able to manage themselves personally and in business,” Burr said.
“What we’re seeing with Carlos is trickling,” he added.
He said other students, even those in the lower school, have been giving back to their communities.
Burr said a third-grader played his guitar on the side of the road at the Folly Beach Christmas parade and donated all $106 he made to Toys for Tots.
“Essentially what we want to do is strengthen the community,” Burr said.
This month they are partnering with YEScarolina to provide free business classes for adults in the community.
Carlos plans to apply to colleges next year to become an X-ray technician. He said he plans to take his business with him wherever he goes to college and his partner can keep the business going locally.
“It’s good to have a back-up plan,” Carlos said.
Carlos’ advice to other young entrepreneurs: “Don’t be shy and keep pursuing what you want in life.”
Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or jmcduffie@ postandcourier.com.