Booming Businesses

Students at UPrep are finding creative new ways to make money


Photo: Mauricio Garcia

Junior Keila Santos takes a photo of the front of a Rite Aid.

From making custom shoes to taking your photos, students at University Prep are starting up businesses, making money and advertising on social media. 

Sophomores Theo Barton and Benjamin Pepe run Bart N Benji’s Custom Kicks.

“We paint shoes or other items and sell them on Instagram,” Barton said. 

They were inspired to start this business after they saw YouTubers doing similar things.

“They were doing cool stuff and we thought we could do something with it,” Barton said.

Making custom shoes is a long and complicated procedure. 

“Painting the shoes itself is probably the last step of the process,” Barton said. 

Before painting, Barton and Pepe talk to the customer about what design the customer wants on their shoes. Then, they sketch drafts of the design to make sure it turns out how the customers want it.

“The process will take multiple days before we get a shoe ready,” Barton said.

Sharon Sarmiento Morales is a customer of this business. She purchased a red Elmo design.

Lincoln Ferguson
Custom shoes designed by Bart N Benji’s Custom Kicks.

“I could see other people shying away from the price but I think artists don’t get paid or credited enough so I didn’t want to do that,” Morales said.

Morales paid $25 for them to paint her shoes.

“I think they were worth the price considering the artists’ design was everything and more,” Morales said.

Midmar Photography is another student business at UPrep. Junior Keila Santos and senior Mauricio Garcia run this business. They take different types of pictures, focusing on portraiture, events, real estate and more. 


Santos wants to keep pursuing photography on the side.

“I like photography a lot. It’s a passion of mine,” Santos said.

Photo Courtesy: Theo Barton and Ben Pepe
Custom shoes designed by Bart N Benji’s Custom Kicks

Santos also mentioned that they do senior photos and graduation pictures. Santos and Garcia also find ways to tie their business in with schoolwork.

“Mauricio also did his senior launchpad on photography, so he built some skills there,” Santos said.

A trend between these student businesses to advertise on the Internet.

“We spend a lot of time on Facebook and Instagram,” Santos said.

 Barton and Pepe also advertise on Instagram as @bart_n_benjis_custom_kicks. Santos and Garcia have a Facebook, a website, and an Instagram as @midmar_photography.

Along with online advertising, they made posters.

“We also printed out a bunch of posters over the summer,” Santos said. “Then just ran around the city and put them up everywhere.”

These are just a few examples of many student-run businesses at UPrep as a way to build business skills to use later in life.