Senior Grace Koo discusses small business, customizing tote bags


Senior Grace Koo started painting tote bags for fun near the end of 2021 and began her small business near the beginning of this school year. The prices “vary based on the difficulty of the design,” said Koo.

Diana Baeza, Personality Perfectionist

When did you start?

“It started as just a fun hobby of mine since I love art. I spent nights painting tote bags with friends just for fun. Then after joining SPARK incubator (the business program), my instructor saw one of my self-painted tote bags and wanted to buy two for her daughters. After I did two commissions for her daughters, others in my SPARK class complimented my work and some wanted tote bags of their own. Ever since then, I’ve had a casual, small, local business for painting and selling tote bags.”


What were some obstacles you had to deal with?

“The main problem with my small business is the amount of time it takes me to paint the tote bags. Some will only take me a few hours [and] others will take me two or three days. When I’m overloaded with orders, it gets really stressful especially since I have school work to keep up with as well.”


What are your current plans?

“I’m going to keep painting tote bags for others and myself and keep it a casual, small business. I don’t plan on expanding to larger areas until school gets less stressful. If anything, I might up the price for my tote bags in the future.”


Out of all things, why tote bags?

“My friends and I always liked doing DIY little projects for ourselves like making jewelry, painting canvases, tote bags, etc. It just happened that my tote bag caught the eye of someone else and spiraled into something bigger.”


What is the current journey like?

“I’m still looking to find ways to mass-produce my bags. I also want to improve my painting skills and experiment in the future with new techniques and designs.”


Where could potential customers reach you for an order and order open for the public?

“I am currently limiting my orders and will enforce a wait-list for customers that are interested. Once school work calms down, I’ll accept more commissions at a time. [Customers] can DM my Instagram account: @koo.tote.”