CUMBERLAND — Julia Curran has weaved a hobby into a business and fundraiser, and turned shyness into confidence.

The Cumberland teenager – who will graduate with her class in the school gym at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, June 2 – discovered her interest among the leftover beads in the studio of her mother, a catalogue designer for L.L. Bean.

Weaving necklaces was a fun activity that became lucrative when her friends started asking for them.

“I figured it would be a cool way to make money,” Curran said May 15. Ultimately, she chose to donate most of the funds to a good cause. She established a website about a year ago, and received orders from as far away as Montana.

“It was cool to go through the whole process of keeping the inventory up, and shipping them out with shipping labels,” Curran recalled. “It was just fun.”

She would showcase about 50 necklaces on the website and could turn out 10 at a time in one sitting.

“They’re pretty quick to make,” Curran said.

When three hurricanes struck the country in 2017, displacing many animals, Curran’s profits gained new purpose. She noted the pivotal role the Animal Refuge League was taking amid the disasters, and decided to help.

The yellow lab she got about 10 years ago also played a part in that decision.

“Having a rescue animal of my own, who definitely came from a hard life, I just wanted to help other animals like her,” Curran said.

She sold hundreds of necklaces for $5 each, and her $1,000 fundraising goal ultimately grew to $2,000.

“That was 50 percent (of profits), plus whatever donations I made,” Curran said.

Another donor matched that gift, raising the total to $4,000.

“The Animal Refuge League has such a big community of supporters, and I was featured in their newsletter … a couple times for my necklace sales,” Curran said. “It was cool to, after that, get a whole bunch of notifications of people buying them.”

She still has some necklaces to sell, and thinks she might give 100 percent of those proceeds to the league.

Along with supporting a great cause and putting a little money in her pocket, Curran found herself changed by the experience of running her own business.

“I was definitely very shy freshman year,” she said, but selling her creations online and being lauded for it by teachers, friends and total strangers, gave her a stronger sense of confidence and allowed her to quietly lead by example.

“It’s a cool way to meet new people,” Curran said.

Being a captain this year on the cross country and indoor track teams has helped in her personal growth, too.

“It’s nice, because I’m able to interact with the freshmen more, which is something as a freshman I never thought I’d be able to do; I thought I’d just be too quiet,” Curran noted. “But it’s nice to be able to be a leader for them.”

If she could offer advice to her freshman self, she said she would recommend setting goals for herself.

“I think when I was younger I was too nervous to do that,” Curran said. “But to be able to set an original goal with this business and then reach that goal, that was definitely a confidence booster.”

It’s an action plan she said she plans to follow at Connecticut College, where she may study architecture.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Julia Curran of Cumberland, who graduates from Greely High School June 2, turned a hobby into a business, donating proceeds to the Animal Refuge League.

Julia Curran not only met her $2,000 necklace fundraising goal for the Animal Refuge League, but another donor matched that amount to raise the gift to $4,000.

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