New Delhi: Generation Z has often been referred to as the “irresponsible” generation, the one who will choose pleasure over courage. But the pandemic has spawned a whole new army of Indian Gen Z entrepreneurs and small business owners on social media – selling everything from handmade letters to cakes to second-hand clothes. .
And they run their business by doing what they do best: sharing, relaxing and creating Reels.
“Gen Z is considering a new career portfolio. They don’t want jobs, they want autonomy and career purpose. Therefore, instead of finding power in pre-existing social structures, they create new ones online,” said Utkarsh Amitabh, CEO of Capital Ventures and author of Passion Economy and Side Hustle Revolution. He explains how Generation Z, now aged 18 to 25, was able to monetize by doing what they love rather than chasing paychecks.
It’s about creating communities and then monetizing them. “The magic of their business lies in the interplay of commerce, culture and community.”
It’s not like this younger generation of urban entrepreneurs is giving veteran startups and business moguls a hard time. Not yet anyway. For most, these “businesses” are a hobby or a way to earn extra income while getting on with their lives.
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Hook and clientele
Nishma Soni, 18, from Ahmedabad, for example, is monetizing her love for painting on Instagram and offering custom designs on everything from plates and mugs to t-shirts under the Urrban Flowers brand. Expanding her business or making a profit is not her end goal as she wants to focus on her acting career and acting. But Urban Flowers offers him the space to paint and show his talent. Most of the products on sale are priced between Rs 250 and Rs 1000 depending on the medium, size and customization required. “Through my sales, I just get back a little bit more of what I spend, but it just makes me happy to create things for people,” she said.
Many of these small businesses took shape during the pandemic and lockdown years of 2020-21, when college and school students found themselves with plenty of free time and nowhere to go. They lived their life on social media, and tapping into that extensive and active network was the next logical step. Instagram, Etsy, and even Facebook have evened the playing field. Personal connections on social media are turning into a consumer base.
This is how 19-year-old Ayaan Shariq from Dehradun started her small business Lilac in the closet in May 2021. During the pandemic, Ayaan and her mother crocheted to spend some productive time. Gradually they became confident in their works and they decided to sell some of the crochet work on Instagram. The most expensive product currently on sale for Rs 850 is a cute green “froggie bucket” hat with black and white crochet googly eyes. Daisy keychains, sunflower earrings, bookmarks and crocheted lavender stems are some of the products that Ayaan and her mother make and sell online.
His online business took a hit when he returned to college, Ashoka University of Sonepat in Haryana.
“But I put a stall during the Spring Haat, a one-day haat in the university itself, a market where people can show their products to see the response from my target customers, women between 18 and 24 years old. . Everything I put on the table, from bookmarks to keychains, sold out long before the day was out,” he said.
In today’s era of mass production and mass consumption, shoppers are looking for something unique that cannot be purchased at fast fashion stores. Soni’s custom art and Shariq’s crochet jewelry tick all the right boxes.
A market for handwritten letters
Not all business remains a secondary hobby. Some like Soumyaa from Ahmedabad, 19, realized the potential of his business. She launched Dessertelier to promote egg-free baking and desserts through online platforms. “It’s already a small business, which we’re now working to expand into a cloud kitchen setup. We’re also targeting physical outlets,” she says. She’s been baking and selling cupcakes since she was 13. .
Shariq, however, finds social media business to be more efficient than physical stores. On Instagram, algorithms help your content reach those who are already interested in it. “You don’t need to have inventory that is at risk of being wasted, dead stock is reduced, and the social media algorithm also helps you with your market research,” he said.
Gen Z companies are less traditional and instead focus on experiences and feelings. Using social media to express their thoughts, create stories and reels around their products helps them connect more personally with their brand, as well as with their buyers.
Shraddha, 21, has used her experience of coming out of a toxic relationship to market the power of affirmation and writing. She realized that there must be so many people like her in the world, seeking some kind of affirmation but not getting it from those close to them. This was the genesis of Letters By Shraddha, which saw the light of day in July 2020, just after the first lockdown.
She offers clients a chance to put their thoughts into words. She provides the handmade paper and the theme. “I’ve always wanted to get a handmade letter,” she says, “I still haven’t received one but I’ve sent almost 2,100 letters.”
The price of the letters is between Rs 500 and Rs 700, depending on the length of the content, the paper selected (plain, burnt edges, coffee or gold edge) and the packaging – rose petal seal or normal wax seal with an envelope. She started marketing DIY kits, which include paper, seals and other tools a buyer can use to write a letter.
Letters By Shraddha has over 16,000 subscribers who are hooked on the “stories” it creates on its handle.
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Money, money, reels
A product, no matter how innovative, can only take a brand so far. Thus, Gen Z entrepreneurs have mastered the art of content creation. From aesthetic photo shoots to Instagram and Facebook reels, they are constantly thinking of ways to use graphic and media formats to create new stories for their products.
Shraddha’s handmade letter business saw a sudden boom when three of its reels went viral in November 2020. It hit its first profit target, earning Rs 1 lakh in February 2021, after Valentine’s Day . So far, she has been able to maintain her sales; her gross profit was 40,000 to 80,000 rupees per month, she said.
Kamiya Arya, 19, a student at Jay Hind College Mumbai studying financial markets, finds this fascinating. She explains how the aestheticization of social media has become a way for small businesses to operate – Gen Z or not. “They spend a lot of time developing perfect content based on the aesthetics of their product. The consistency of their messages and the nature of their graphics then start to reflect on how the audience perceives them, and that earns them orders. of people from elsewhere,” says Kamiya.
Juwairya Siddiqui, an economics and psychology student at Ashoka University who follows various small businesses, shares how her friends and acquaintances realized their hobbies and art could bring them appreciation and money .
“People always think that if something interests you, you can get it for free,” she says.
Gen Z companies are shaking that belief. Your graphic designer friend won’t always edit your reel for free, and your best friend who makes the most amazing brownies doesn’t have to give you an endless supply of baked goods. But you can order it on Instagram.