2020 was a slaughterhouse for lots of small businesses 🔪 (Sorry for the visual, but it’s true.)
Close to 100,000 small businesses permanently closed last year, and ‘rona isn’t done rearing her ugly head yet.
But hey, there’s actually a silver lining here 🌤
In the midst of all that, there was a surge in new business applications, reaching nearly 4.5 million by the end of 2020 (a 24.3 percent increase from 2019).
Crazy or naw? 🤷🏽♀️
Truth is, entrepreneurs want what entrepreneurs want, and that’s their OWN money-churning biz 🤑🤑🤑
Check out these 5 small businesses that successfully launched during the pandemic, or as we like to call them, COVID creations.
Because at the end of the day, the economy isn’t gonna hold them back.
How ‘bout you?
From a fitness trainer pimp to plant doctors, we think we’ve covered our bases.
Keep on scrolling to see who made the list of our COVID creations, and get inspired to launch your own✨
Our first COVID creation comes from none other than the trendy fashion marketplace, Depop 🕶 👜👗
(Just FYI, Depop saw a 300% rise in items sold just between January to April of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. So yeah… That’s happening.)
Shirley Tang is the NY-based Canadian fashion student behind the Depop shop, ORIENS.
She’s building a name for herself as her corset, cutout detailing, and raw pieces are being worn by celebs like SZA 👩🏾🦱 and Rico Nasty 🎤
“I like to be inspired by a variety of non-fashion-based sources — particularly machines, biological structures, and the body,” Shirley told Vogue.
“I’m fascinated by futurism and the idea of designing for a future and fantasy that transcends the boundaries of today.” 🤖🦾🦿
She also said the female body forms a huge part of her work; it’s pretty much the focal point in her designs.
Unsurprisingly, COVID’s caused a huge shift towards digital fashion 💻
And because of that, Shirley’s reached people she never imagined without the platform.
“I’m interested to see how far this change will impact the industry and how it will last when the world emerges from the pandemic.”
Well done, Shirley. Well done 👏🏽
(OK, we have a confession to make before moving on… If you wanna split hairs, Shirley didn’t necessarily launch her biz during ‘rona. BUUUUT, it really took off during quarantine when she was out of Parsons School of Fashion 🚀 Sooo, for us, it still counts.)
What started as a joke on a meme page turned into a college dating website to fill the social vacuum left by ‘rona, called OKZoomer.
21-year-old senior at Yale University Ileana Valdez is the main woman behind it, along with her brother Jorge and fellow Yale student, Patrycja Gorska.
It connects college students from more than 200 schools across the country for virtual Zoom dates 💋
"Freshmen will want to use this app because school now is remote, so they won’t have the traditional avenues of making relationships. Whether that be friendships or romantic interest relationships," Ileana Valdez said.
Soooo, how does it work?
📧 Well, users sign up with their college email addresses.
💃🏾 From there, they take a personality quiz.
🧮 Then, the app’s algorithm matches them with people from other schools (no location restrictions📍).
📸 And there are no profile pics involved.
You read that right, NO PICS.
Pretty cool, right??
❌ No swiping left or right based on looks.
❌ No searching through profiles to pick something you (almost vaguely) like and then trying to start awkward small talk over it.
✅ Just personality quizzes.
(I’m not in college anymore, but where can I sign up? 😂)
If you caught our blog The Future Of Small Business: How This Year Will Transform Small Businesses As We Know Them, you’ve already got a taste of Soul Sanity.
For those who haven’t, what are you waiting for??? 😒
Soul Sanity is an online mental health gym founded in the thick of the pandemic by Holly Novick.
💆🏽♀️ With a membership, users have access to live sessions to help them relieve stress and anxiety.
There are a bunch of different areas to choose from that are proven beneficial to mental health, like:
And of course, participation takes place from the comfort of their homes 🏡
“Why do we have gyms for our physical health and not our mental health? What about nurturing our minds not just conditioning our bodies?” Holly says in Soul Sanity’s About page.
“I wanted something I could do consistently, finding comfort on my bad days and encouragement on my good days.”
On the other side of the spectrum (quite literally), we have kudoose, an online workout class platform cofounded by Danielle Payton and Rachel Siegel in June 2020.
Long story short, Danielle watched her publicist biz die a slow and painful death with the onset of COVID as fitness studios (her main clients) started closing.
Soon after, she saw instructors giving away sessions on IG live, which is when she told The Wall Street Journal, and we quote:
“Free is not sustainable. Our haircuts aren’t free, our rent isn’t free... Nothing is free.”
😂👆🏽 She gets it.
So, with the belief that fitness should be affordable and accessible to all, while instructors still make a living, kuudose was birthed.
Trainers would receive monthly commissions for the members they bring over to the platform, and as the co-founder, Danielle oversees it all 💅🏼
(Personal trainer pimp reference make sense now? 🤣)
So far, there are about 200 short workout vids recorded by pro trainers in their homes, and membership fees start as low as $9.99/mo. or $99/ year.
As of fall 2020, over 500 peeps have already signed up.
“We’re really looking at this as more of a long-term play,” Danielle said. “We’re using the pandemic as the steppingstone to really launch us.”
We repeat: “We’re using the pandemic as a steppingstone…”
Take notes, ya’ll 📝
For those who have plant babies 🪴, Steward is for you.
Created by 29-year-old Alexi and 31-year-old Brendan Coffey, the online platform based in NYC is like having a doctor on speed dial for your withering vegetation.
Like, for real.
🤳🏽 If there’s anything wrong with your plants, you snap a photo and DM your plant expert so they can help you diagnose it and get your green oasis flourishing again.
🗺 Plus, you can create Plant Maps of your home, and the app spits out the best plants for your space (based on how much light you have) and how you can care for them.
And in our current digital world, having real plant backgrounds is def a way to to #levelup your Zoom meetings 🙌🏽
“We have benefited from the fact that people are at home and interested in growing more than ever,” Alexi told The New York Times.
“Moments of planting and watering the plants break up the digital weird reality we are living in. We get to be a little bit of joy in people’s lives.”
They launched in the fall of 2020 after a delayed start and now have about 5,000 happy plant parents worldwide.
Before things get awkward…
👎🏽 We’re NOT saying the resale fashion industry is more important than the rest.
👍🏽 We ARE saying there are some interesting resale trends to notice that could help you with your own biz. (Also, just FYI, resale is thriving in the pandemic.)
No matter what your industry is / what you plan to launch, the resale fashion industry is onto something.
Here are a few (v important) points:
① Their communities are booming.
Browsing through a lot of the Depop sellers’ stories across the internet, they praise the platform for just that: community.
⏱ Buyers can communicate with the designers in a matter of minutes, something unheard of with a standard website.
And because they get heard and personalized attention, they’re loyal af.
② Sustainability is top of mind.
It’s no secret that the fashion industry is unsustainable, producing 10% of the world’s carbon emissions 👣, drying up water sources 💧 and polluting rivers and streams while it’s at it 🏞.
(Uhmm, hello??? Where do you think all your trashed clothes go? The answer is to landfills, if it’s not recycled ♻️)
So, if we can credit COVID for anything good, it’s the drastic move toward conscious consumption.
With resale fashion, people can enjoy fashion trends in a more responsible way.
By purchasing secondhand items and keeping them in circulation for as long as possible, they cut down on waste 🗑
Plus, consumers are leaning towards buying fewer, higher quality items.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
③ They’re monetizing new opportunities.
The clothing style that’s skyrocketed when COVID first started?
Stylish leisurewear, especially tops for teleworking 👩🏽💻
Yupp, we’re talkin’ pajamas, sweatshirts, sweatpants, you name it. Anything that keeps people comfy while they shelter in place at home.
On the other hand, purchases of pants fell 13% and bra sales 12% in April from March 2020 (for obvious reasons when you’re WFH 😂).
Again, brands who’ve expanded their offering to include lounge and leisurewear – like the startups Knix, TomboyX, and Parachute – are killin’ the game these days.
④ The industry is just plain cheaper.
Hey, when people don’t know where their next paycheck will come from, they tend to cut down on the unnecessary luxuries and look to save money wherever possible.
📥 Insert secondhand clothing.
But, there’s a deeper lesson here for all you microentrepreneurs out there:
👉🏽 Take the current economic landscape into consideration when pricing your products/ services.
Again, let’s explain ourselves a bit more here…
👎🏽 We’re NOT saying sell your stuff for dirt cheap.
👍🏽 We ARE saying that depending on whom you’re selling to, you may need to readjust your prices accordingly.
It’s all about keeping an eye out on the markets 👁
☹️ COVID did a number on a lot of small businesses around the nation.
(We didn’t even touch on how it threatened the developing world’s small businesses.)
🙅🏽♀️ But, that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and wait things out. And quite frankly, you shouldn’t.
Sure, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what will happen post-vax.
(Like, will we go back to “normal”? Will new strains keep evolving, and this is actually the beginning of a zombie apocalypse? 🧟♀️)
But the longer you wait to get your biz going, the longer it will take for you start seeing the results 💰
As is estilo Boost, we’ve thought wayyy ahead of ya already.
Here are a couple resources to get the gears turning:
And when you’re ready to officially form your biz, here’s everything you need to know about how to do so:
(You’ll get the link to the second when you’re done with the first 😉)