Student Business Gains A Big Following

Wharton creates custom tote bags for friends and customers.


Lily Wharton

Junior Olivia Perkins poses with her custom tote bag by Lily Wharton.

A student, an entrepreneur, a small business owner. Senior Lily Wharton is all three after taking her hobby of painting and turning it into a business opportunity. Wharton has been painting tote bags for about a year, but recently started to sell them in January.

“Painting is therapeutic to me and has become a frequent hobby. I love giving gifts, so I started out by surprising my friends with bags themed about their personalities. Soon enough I had gifted all my friends a bag, and started opening offers to anyone,” said Wharton. 

The tote bags are a mix of brainstorming and arranged inspiration. Wharton often asks customers the vibe they are going for and presents options for them to choose from. Sometimes her customers give her creative freedom.

Prices depend on the bag. Factors include materials used, time spent and artistic elements such as the painting of words or intricate objects. Completion time varies, depending on how fast the customer needs or wants the bag. 

Wharton’s clientele mostly come from PHS. She’s made bags for seniors Lakyn Campbell and Ally Hamric, junior Olivia Perkins, freshman Natalie Coffman and more. 

“I think Lily is so talented and very creative. I love the bag she made me and think everyone should get a tote bag from Lily,” said Campbell. 

Wharton hopes to reach a wider audience by creating a TikTok account and continuing her business throughout college. 

“In college I plan to advertise sorority-themed bags to gain business. I think targeting an audience of sororities or clubs is a great option,” said Wharton. 

Anyone interested in Lily’s totes bags can find her work on Instagram @lilys.totes. Her personal accounts are @lily.wharton and @lilwhart.