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Social distancing pushed these GL girls to *finally* start their dream companies


Image: instagram.com/rosesutton1

The pandemic caught every person off-guard, *especially* teens. With school and extracurriculars being canceled, everyone was unsure of what to do and how to spend their time. Because of this, many young creatives resorted to starting businesses to cope with the boredom.

I spoke with 5 teens that started all sorts of businesses and discussed the impact of social distancing on starting a business.

The impact of isolation:

I spoke with Hansuja, 15, who founded Words of Thanks, a student-run organization dedicated to writing letters to health care and essential workers, now expanding to elders, patients with COVID-19, and cancer patients. When asked about the effect of social distancing on her personally, she stated, "I felt like I wasn't doing enough. I was really upset at times because I didn't have motivation for anything until I decided to start Words of Thanks."

Elina, 17, a fellow GL intern, started a juicing business with her brother in the midst of isolation, helping her mom and friends with their daily juice cleanse. "It started so quickly," Elina says, "I feel like nobody really had a smooth transition from the norm to isolation. It really hit me hard, but after a while, I started to try new things to feel better," Elina later adds.

Rose Sutton, 18, recently debuted her podcast, Passionate Perspective, with a focus on interviewing creative artists. "Having as much downtime as I had was really hard for me because having a schedule is really important to me. A lot of amazing things that I had wanted for so long were happening, but I was struggling a lot mentally," Rose says.

Shreya, 15, and Saanvi, 15, started Voices of Gen-Z (VofZ), a podcast and online publication for the Gen-Z community to speak up on important topics. Shreya talked about her struggles, "It was a lot of ups and downs, but mostly downs. Honestly, it was just really bad for my mental health." Saanvi agreed strongly, "Yeah, it was rough."

Starting the biz: how long did they prepare?

"I started it in late April, early May," Hansuja says, "Honestly, after I came up with the idea, it was about a week and a half of planning before the website launched," Hansuja adds.

Since the juicing business was a side hustle, Elina added that it was not a long process, "It was like one thing led to another and I don't think we would have ended up with it had all of this not happened," Elina says.

Rose had contemplated starting a pod since the beginning of summer, but she didn't take the leap until a month and a half later, "It wasn't something that I was thinking about for a super long time," Rose says.

Saanvi talked about how their spur of the moment decision happened after a late-night facetime sesh, "At ll pm I got a facetime asking if I want to do a podcast, five minutes later we chose a name, 10 minutes later we found a hosting website and we're trying to find out what an RSS feed is," Saanvi says.

How social distancing pushed them to start a business:

"I didn't have any other commitments, so once I got the idea, it really pushed me to do something," Hansuja says, "It was something productive that I could actually do and we probably won't ever get this much time alone in our lives. Being alone for so long actually pushed me to do it once I got the idea," Hansuja later explains.

"It was really hectic at the beginning. Social distancing was a way of rediscovering what I do every day, so just having structure made it a lot easier to transition from then into summer," Elina says.

"I was honestly having a yearn for emotional connection because I was so deprived of social relations," Rose says, "It just made me put more things into perspective and it really has broken boundaries to have like in-depth conversations with people," Rose adds.

"It was all really quick so it didn't really push us, but we wanted something to do and work on," Shreya said about the forming of VofZ. Saanvi added how it contributed to the purpose of their organization, "There were a lot of issues coming up during quarantine so it was a really great time to get people's voices and opinions on these topics."

How starting a business made quarantine more tolerable:

"Once Words of Thanks began, I started getting 20-100 letters a day from people," Hansuja says, "I was connecting with strangers from across the world and it felt really good to see people working with me and doing good for people, " Hansuja adds.

Elina discussed the importance of having a routine, "Having a schedule and a responsibility to do something every day was a nice way to stay accountable and productive. It really gave me a good balance."

"I felt a lot of gratitude within myself," Rose says, "I think just having the podcast is so important and helping me make connections with people and discuss topics that otherwise would be kept quiet," Rose later explains.

"It helped us meet people all around the world," Shreya says, "But I think it made it more tolerable in the sense that I had a routine and felt productive instead of doing nothing." Saanvi emphasized the amount of productivity they actually had in order to do the work, "We were literally working 80 hours weeks, day and night, so it definitely took up a lot of our time."

Starting a business if isolation never happened:

Hansuja looks briefly on isolation as the perfect time to start something big, "Words of Thanks is really based around COVID. I feel like if I didn't have as much time as I did in isolation, I wouldn't have taken the initiative to start anything because I always find excuses for why I can't."

"I don't think I would have had the time to take something else on. Last year was my junior year, and I was stressed with AP tests and the ACT, so there's no way I could have just started a home business without this," Elina says.

"If the pandemic wasn't happening, I feel like I would have started it eventually because I am a conversationalist and I enjoy those discussions, but the pandemic helped me start it sooner rather than later," Rose said about her podcast.

"We probably would have started the podcast, but it would have never reached the extent that it did," Shreya said. Saanvi agrees with Shreya as well, "The pandemic gave us so much content in and of itself that it helped us grow, so I don't think it would have become what it is now without it."

It can be hard not to look at the pandemic in a depressing way, but it is *always* important to see the beauty in each thing. Because of this time at home, people around the globe started things to contribute change and important discussions into society. 

Start a business while social distancing? Share it with us on social media and tag @girlslifemag!

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by Eres Croker | 10/21/2020
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