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SPECIAL DELIVERY Rilina Tran, a rising sophomore at Bellaire High School, opened an Etsy shop during the height of the Covid quarantine.
The year 2020 was supposed to be a year of clarity and excitement because I was starting high school. Instead, it was a year where hindsight was clearer than foresight. We went into social isolation with virtual education. My brother and I were stuck at home.
Like many kids, I turned to online shopping and saw that many items weren’t available. My parents challenged me to open my own Etsy shop that would make kids smile. This quest began in July, and by the end of 2020, I had made over $120,000 with nearly 5,000 orders and 140,000 visits to my shop.
In July 2020, Avatar: The Last Airbender was trending, which brought back nostalgic memories of my childhood. I saw Appa bucket hats and fell in love. They were all sold out, and kids were waiting to get their hands on one. I decided to make them. While learning to make the Appa hat with my brother, I sold stickers, jewelry, and items that were trending for kids. I launched the Appa hat in August, and by the end of the month, had sold over 900 hats. At that point, we needed help. My parents contacted our relatives in Vietnam and asked if they wanted to be involved.
My dad always says, “We are all dreamers. The difference is when we wake up. Those who change dreams into reality move the world.” I will always live by my dad’s words. The RNT Boutique is delivering smiles to kids worldwide and jobs to people in Vietnam. I am donating 25 percent of earnings to TranScience, a nonprofit organization that is sponsoring an orphanage in Vietnam. For the remainder, I invest 50 percent back into the business and 25 percent towards our college fund.
It is now the summer of 2021, more than one year after the lockdown, and vaccines are available. What is an ocean but a myriad of raindrops? If we all do our parts together, we can overcome this pandemic. Next mission: Help an orphanage in Central America.
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