Online businesses boom as teens and young adults find opportunities 

by Valentina Padula

   Growing up in the eye of social media and technology, it is no surprise that youth-run businesses have become popular. The sudden dive into quarantine from COVID-19 has only encouraged and created more ways to legally establish trendy and profitable online businesses that appeal to teens and young adults.

   As trends have filtered in and out of the public eye, various online businesses have risen to popularity to accommodate the latest demands. A more recent appeal for 90s fashion, video games, streaming and energy-charged crystals dominate in adolescents. Companies or apps like Depop, Twitch and Etsy have expanded their usual business models and have partnered with teenage independent business owners looking to sell what is most in demand. Using legal contracts or online business licenses, these organizations allow small-time business owners to use their marketing services in exchange for promotions or a percentage of the money earned. Millennials and Gen-Z make up most of the population on these apps, being 188 percent more likely to start a side business than the baby boomer generation as of 2021.

   “I started my business by licensing my company as a limited liability company corporation and then using other assisting businesses to make my own website,” said sophomore online store owner Chloe Martin. “I always wanted to make merchandise, but I have no intentions of making it a future career, so for high school, it is a fun way that I am able to profit and learn.”

   The recent 90s trends and crystallized jewelry have turned fashion back in time a few decades and many have started online businesses with handmade clothing for teens looking for quality and sustainable purchases. West Broward alumni Noelle Ramsay, now a college student at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, shared her experience as a small business owner selling jewelry on a popular marketing app Depop.

   “For college, Depop helped me pay off the deposits for my housing and my school,” Ramsay said. “I saved up a couple of thousands of dollars so when I first moved here, I was able to be comfortable without having to search for a job.”

   While fashion has seemed to regress back to previous generations, technology has only continued to improve over the years. More teens and young adults are getting their own gaming stations and playing video games, whether it is watching others play online, playing with friends or streaming their skills on an online platform. Video game players take up about a third of the population with 2.5 billion video gamers active around the world in 2021. Twitch, a popular streaming website, provides a unique opportunity to have fun online while also making money.

   “I signed up to earn money by reaching Twitch Affiliate,” said senior Twitch streamer Alex Torres. “You get it by reaching a certain number of average viewers, and those same viewers are then able to donate and subscribe. You sign a contract to keep specific content on the site and to promote certain things if given the chance.”

“For college, Depop helped me pay off the deposits for my housing and my school. I saved up a couple of thousands of dollars, so when I first moved here, I was able to be comfortable without having to search for a job.” – Noelle Ramsay

   Total money production may range from limited for small-time streamers on Twitch, to large sums for widely known producers on marketing websites like Etsy. Teens have been provided the unexpected chance to learn more about the financial world because their online businesses require an understanding of personal finance, economics and management. Many adolescents have taken this opportunity to get a head start on these tactics, with the unemployment rate reduced to about an 11 percent amongst teens as of January 2022.

  “One thing that my business taught me a lot of is about finances,” Ramsay said. “I feel like school does not teach that much about it. I really learned the importance of saving, and that is something that I think is super important to know when you are starting to live on your own.”

ENERGIZED CRYSTALS: College student Noelle Ramsay works on her homemade crystal necklaces in her bedroom. Ramsay owns a small business on a widely known app, Depop, where she sells crystallized and customized jewelry to consumers online. Photo courtesy of Noelle Ramsay

MY OWN MODEL: Sophomore online clothing store owner Chloe Martin models in her own merchandise. Martin promoted her products by putting up real-life image examples on her website. Photo courtesy of Chloe Martin