Walking through the halls of Oswego High School, it’s hard to miss the vibrant scrunchies sported by students. Anything from bright pineapples to dainty ladybugs can be found on them, and these trendy accessories aren’t coming from a major retailer. They are coming from OHS’s own Becky Jermolowicz.
Jermolowicz, a senior, began making her own scrunchies, a popular ‘90s ponytail holder that regained popularity in the 2010s, in July 2019. Since then, it has grown into a small business: Becky’s Scrunchies.
The idea began when a scrunchie caught her eye at the mall, but cost more than she was willing to pay.
“I believed, and still do believe, that it was overpriced,” Jermolowicz said. “I didn’t have the money to spend almost $10 on a single hair accessory because I was working a job in which I wasn’t making a whole lot.”
Like many students, she wanted the accessories at a more affordable price. So, she decided to do something about it.
“I think it’s impressive more than anything,” Jermolowicz’s boyfriend, senior Ethan Weires said. “To see it go from an idea in her mind to now something that’s known throughout the school is amazing.”
Senior Sana Ajeena, along with the rest of Jermolowicz’s customers, recognizes and appreciates the significant price differential compared to major retailers.
“It was at the beginning of when scrunchies were starting to come back in style so they were a little more expensive in stores,” Ajeena said. “She provided affordable and super cute options.”
However, starting a small business was not all smooth sailing for Jermolowicz; she struggled with balancing the numerous aspects of her life. An excellent student, she is a member of the Oswego Technical Honor Society, Vice President of the OHS National Honor Society, and in the top 10% of her class. In addition, Jermolowicz has earned the community service cord, continually donating her rare free time to help others. To add to her responsibilities, Jermolowicz has worked through care.com three days a week each school week since September 2019.
To ease stress, she decided to not take part in track and cross country.
“I’d be up very late on school nights sewing away, because remember, I had to make each one myself from scratch,” Jermolowicz said. “I don’t think I would have been able to make these scrunchies if I was involved in sports this year.”
These sacrifices have not gone unnoticed, as those close to her know how passionate she is about her business.
“She truly puts her heart into her work,” Weires said.
In hindsight, she has turned this into a learning experience, seeing now how impressive her accomplishments truly are.
“Looking back now, I would have given myself more credit because I put a lot of pressure on myself to please everyone else when really, I was doing the best I could do and that’s something to be proud of,” Jermolowicz said.
All of the late nights spent working on scrunchies has paid off, as they have become well-known around the halls of Oswego High School.
“I see people all around school wearing her scrunchies and I’m so proud of her,” Ajeena said.
This success has her family and friends eager to see what she will accomplish down the road; her determination and work ethic now on full display.
“Her ability to start this small-scale business now makes me excited for what she’ll be capable of in the future,” Weires said.
As for others with daunting ideas, Jermolowicz urges them to take a risk and explore the possibilities.
“I encourage anyone interested in selling their work to just go for it! You never know what could happen until you try,” Jermolowicz said. “I have all the confidence in the world that many students would be very successful.”
The exponential growth of Becky’s Scrunchies is a success story that should inspire students with similar ideas to launch their own small businesses.
At this time, Jermolowicz has taken time to focus on college preparations, putting Becky’s Scrunchies on the back-burner at this time.
The spread of COVID-19 makes this an ideal time for a break, as Jermolowicz wouldn’t be able to meet customers in person to avoid spreading the virus further.
“My business is just in pause right now,” Jermolowicz said. “Once the virus is no longer a threat to society, I will come back out with my new patterns.”
In the meantime, keep an eye out for unique, trendy scrunchies around Oswego; they won’t be hard to find.For more information and purchasing opportunities, follow @becky.scrunchies on Instagram.