“Be cognizant of what’s going on around you, contribute, amplify voices, and focus. Now is not the time to let go of your dreams.”
“In such a digitally connected time, young entrepreneurs can market, share and explain their ideas much more easily than before.”
“My role as an entrepreneur is to break the stereotype of what an entrepreneur looks like.”
Coco and Breezy
Designer eyewear company, Coco & Breezy, was founded by identical twins, Corianna (Coco) and Brianna (Breezy) when they were 19 years old. Today the sisters are also DJ’s and producers as well as co-owners of a holiday retreat.
“My role as an entrepreneur is to break the stereotype of what an entrepreneur looks like,” says Breezy. “We get so stuck having to assimilate. It’s not everyone’s job to take this on but I’m willing to take the necessary risks in those spaces and be true to myself, so that other people can walk into those spaces as themselves and feel comfortable. I’m willing to take one for the team.”
“What drives us? Our family background,” says Coco. “Our dad grew up during the civil rights movement, he went to a segregated school, and he didn’t get offered many opportunities purely because he was black. We are the first generation in our family of not having this experience, and so our goal is to shift the narrative in our family. The big goal is how can we shift this lack of opportunity for our generation. This motivates us every single day.”
“It's okay to stop and slow down for a little bit. If we keep pushing ourselves and not growing as people, then your business can't grow.”
Maia Faddoul is a Canadian Illustrator and designer based in Montreal. Her work is deeply rooted in her intersectional feminist values and she loves to advocate for causes that she’s passionate about. “I believe in creating art that empowers the young and under-represented communities and gives them visibility as well as a voice
Maia takes inspiration from how fast we have been able to adapt and change things on a global level during this unsettling time. “I believe young entrepreneurs can take insights from this to help reshape a new and improved “normal”, ones that's kinder to the environment, less focused on consumerism, and more aware of racial issues worldwide.”
The Essential Farmers Project’s belief is that anyone can be a farmer. The initiative supports local ‘at-risk’ farms by making volunteer farming accessible and fun to urbanites.
“As a “plantrepreneur” who just started their business last year, this was a tremendously vulnerable time for me,” says Nick. The shift to a more content-first approach was the first major change, and I began teaching online workshops, hosting plant doctor consulting sessions via Zoom, and partnering with sustainable brands on Instagram and Tiktok. I had to completely adapt and add new elements to my business.”
Cashmere is a social savings app that helps young aspirational female consumers save up and buy the luxury products they desire in a more financially responsible manner. “We live in an age of easy access to consumer debt, social media pressures, and instant gratification. This means that many young people are resorting to getting into unsustainable levels of debt to keep up with the 'Instagram lifestyle'."
Cashmere advocates for responsible and conscious spending, helping members get access to the products and experiences they desire without falling into debt. Covid hasn’t been easy for the team at Cashmere, but Urenna notes that “Tough times build character.” She advises fellow young entrepreneurs to “Focus on creative ways you can innovate your product/service during this uncertain period.”
Gildform is an on-demand jewelry manufacturing platform that gives anyone the freedom to dream, design, produce and sell jewelry without the limitations that come with the lack of materials, the lack of technical design experience, or the lack of skilled staff.
“Like most business owners, I was concerned about what impact COVID-19 would have,” says Karissma. “My strategy for navigating challenges is multi-dimensional, and while it may sound a bit counter-intuitive; I start with myself. When I take a moment to understand the challenge and where I am in relation to it, I recognize that I end up being better off than before the challenge surfaced.”
Fenton Jagdeo and Umar Elbably
Beauty brand, Faculty, is challenging the restrictive narrative surrounding masculinity
. “We exist to make people better, “ says Fenton. “We are for a new wave of masculinity that champions the freedom of expression; the capability to embrace and act upon masculinity—however you define it. And we tell our story
rough a portfolio of makeup and skincare products designed to make you feel good in your own skin.”
Umar encourages fellow entrepreneurs weathering the Covid storm to “be cognizant of what’s going on around you, contribute, amplify voices, and focus. Now is not the time to let go of your dreams.”
“We use our social media to speak our brand’s truth, to empower our customers through edutainment and visuals, and to galvanize a community.”
DedCool, a fragrance line based in Los Angeles, uses high quality natural ingredients that are cruelty free, vegan, non-toxic and unisex. Carina is passionate about creating complex and sophisticated scent profiles for conscious consumers like herself.
“This year has been quite a challenge,” says Carina, “I was scared because I didn’t know what the future of my business would be. Five months down the line, it’s definitely been a big adjustment in every way. From losing wholesale customers to figuring out new ways to support, give back, have some type of philanthropic foundation and do the best we can. Here and there I am launching more essential goods as opposed to creating new fragrances, I’ve created a hand wash, sanitizer, and I just launched an anti-stress roll on. Everyone is in this together and my customers have been very understanding of a slower timeline.”
GooseGlitters is an online art store that makes up-cycled
and uplifting art accessible to all. As many people were battling with loneliness, depression, and anxieties during the uncertainties of lockdown, Laura felt that it was urgent for her to set up her online business. “My purpose it to make people happy with my art. I try to share personal struggles, inspire others to try creative mediums as means of dealing with depression and anxiety, and I encourage the re-use of existing materials (rather than buying new). I’m also donating £1 per print sold to YoungMindsUK,” says Laura.
“It’s very tempting to adapt your style
to what your audiences seem to like, but that’s not the point of art. Be true to yourself!” Laura encourages, “Do what you think is best / good / beautiful / the right thing, and you will find your audience.”
Ethel’s Club is a co-working space that centers and celebrates people of color through community, arts, and culture. The Brooklyn clubhouse had to close doors just four months after opening when Covid hit. The team moved everything online by launching a digital membership with live streams and video content broadcast daily.
“It was definitely a challenge, but we gained hundreds of new members overnight, people from all over the world who need a place like Ethel’s Club to feel seen and heard”, says Naj. “Young entrepreneurs have a huge hand in shaping what’s next and what’s new. If you’re tapped in to what people are looking for, you’re able to build products around that need.”
The Z Link is a social media marketing business run by and aimed at Gen Z. “I launched The Z Link in May 2020, right in the middle of the COVID pandemic, while being furloughed from my internship,” says Erifili. “It was incredibly challenging because everything was moving slow, but the demand for social media marketing remained high. This meant that I was able to offer some free help to struggling businesses that needed it.”
Erifili believes that no matter what industry you’re in, impactful content
is all about being human, authentic, and approachable. There’s no need to be fancy-schmancy, and no hard sell! “I recommend to keep the ratio of direct selling vs. valuable content at around 1:4.” says Erifili.