Young people who started their own business during lockdown

Images above: Rita Kastrati; Olivia and Francesca Johns

“We just thought, we have this long summer holiday stretching ahead of us with nothing to do and nowhere to go, so we’d go for it”

Francesca and Olivia Johns are 22 and 20 respectively. In the summer of 2020 Francesca graduated from Kings, with a degree in Geography; her sister Olivia had just completed her first year studying Criminology at Oxford Brooks University.

Did they spend the summer in pyjamas watching Netflix? No they did not. Well, maybe a little, but mainly they decided to act on an idea they’d been mulling for some years and set up a business together selling soft furnishings.

READ MORE: Francesca and Olivia’s lockdown business – Boeboes

Rita Kastrati, 21, graduated in the summer of 2020 with a degree in International Political Economy. She had a job lined up in New York which she wasn’t able to take because she couldn’t get there. She has gone into business with her mother, selling flowers.

READ MORE: Rita’s lockdown business – Bea’s Flowers London

Francesca, Olivia and Rita are all lucky to have learned a certain amount about the trade in which they’re embarking from their parents, but they have all seized the enforced inactivity of lockdown as an opportunity and recognised the potential for running a business online.

Images above: James Willcocks; Jake Stewart

“The experience of this past year has shown me that you no longer have to go to London to be working at the top in the tech industry”

James Willcocks, 24, lives on Dartmoor. Coming from a farming family, he wasn’t convinced that he wanted to work in London, but thought he should at least give it a try. He moved to Chiswick in September 2019 but during the following year, as central London offices emptied and he improved his network of contacts, he realised that actually he could live in Devon and work perfectly well as a software engineer and web developer from home.

READ MORE: James’ lockdown business – web development

“I’ve always fancied running my own business”

Jacob Stewart, 23, started Cello, a one-person company making and selling his homemade Limoncello, in late 2019.

When he left school he taught fencing, football and cricket in a school for a couple of years before starting a degree in aeronautical engineering. But he quickly decided university wasn’t for him and decided to try his hand at what he really wanted to do: to set up his own business.

READ MORE: Jacob’s lockdown business: Cello

Young people have had it especially tough in 2020, not being able to socialise, not having the usual opportunities to enjoy college and university life to the full, finding themselves in a much tougher job market.

These four have seen an opportunity in being able to work online, from home, and made the best of it. Good luck to them.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: A year of pandemic – How has Chiswick fared

See also: Retail: “I’ve never had to work so hard in my life”

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