Pandemic results in entrepreneurship, as some flip inventive passions into companies

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Madily Hernandez sits with her pillows ready to be mailed to her customers.

When she was just 7 years old, Madily Hernandez says that her grandma taught her to crochet. What started out as a simple chain and double crochet stitch grew into a full-time business 20 years later.

In March 2020, Hernandez, 27, and her family had to leave their rented home and move into an RV in Sacramento, California. While her husband juggled three jobs, she worked as an assembly line worker in a factory, but it only made about $ 700 a month.

In her spare time, she sold crocheted hats and toys online. Then a friend’s joke led her to make her first crocheted pillow in the shape of a penis. In January her business of making phallic pillows was born.

“I was kind of the first to do this design,” she said, adding that her company, Little Lady Crochets, now has 100 orders and a waiting list for new pillows.

Madily Hernandez sits with her pillows ready to be mailed to her customers.

Madily Hernandez sits with her pillows ready to be mailed to her customers.

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Hernandez is just one of many women who left the workforce and started their own business during the pandemic. McKinsey and Oxford Economics estimate that women have made up nearly 56% of the exits since the pandemic began, despite only making up 48% of the workforce.

“We’ve been stressed about money for so long and it’s been so tough for all of us,” said Hernandez, a mother of two who was able to quit her job. “We borrowed money from my parents and can now be free and just relax.”

As of January, Hernandez’s business has raised over $ 50,000, including $ 22,000 in April and May alone. Her husband now only has one job and the family has been able to move to a new home. She expects hundreds of more purchases when she can take new orders.

The story goes on

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Creative passions pay more than companies

Candles by Jazmine Garrison alongside Stella Candle Co.

Candles by Jazmine Garrison alongside Stella Candle Co.

Although 943,000 new jobs were added in the last month, the largest increase since August 2020, many people have found more happiness and income managing their own business ventures.

Business applications have increased, according to the US Census Bureau. Bryce Gill, an economist at First Trust Portfolios, an investment firm, says the pandemic has really fueled entrepreneurship.

“People’s consumption preferences have changed significantly during the pandemic and this has opened up endless opportunities for creative entrepreneurs to meet those needs,” said Gill.

Jazmine Garrison, 29, with her husband Gregory Aquaro, 28.

Jazmine Garrison, 29, with her husband Gregory Aquaro, 28.

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Jazmine Garrison, 29, worked in marketing in Churchville, Pennsylvania. But soon after starting, she knew she wanted to achieve more with her marketing degree and experience.

“I feel like I always knew, without a doubt, that I was never meant for the American company,” she said. “I never passed and I always worked for smaller companies.”

She always had her own business on the side, but it wasn’t until her Stella Candle Co. took off that she decided to become her own full-time boss.

Founded in October 2020, the company topped six-figure sales in February and Garrison is making ten times the amount she made in her marketing job.

“It matters what you do with it,” she said. “I made something out of it that could last longer.”

Candles from Jazmine Garrison as part of their Stella Candle Co.

Candles from Jazmine Garrison as part of their Stella Candle Co.

Like Hernandez, Garrison began drawing the money through social media. After her first video received 700,000 views, “everything has changed since then”.

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A set of fingernails painted by Vivian Xue, owner of the Pamper Nail Gallery in Fremont, California.

A set of fingernails painted by Vivian Xue, owner of the Pamper Nail Gallery in Fremont, California.

The power of TikTok

Like many success stories these days, TikTok paved the way for successful business ideas. Just scroll through your For You page and you will see the creative works of millions of people around the world.

Vivian Xue, 30, started her own nail art company, Pamper Nail Gallery in Fremont, California after quitting her job as a software engineer.

She had to close her salon in April 2020 because of the pandemic, but she relocated her business online, with TikTok helping spread the word.

With some of Xue’s videos having over 13 million views, she and her artists are now receiving inquiries from around the world and making between $ 15,000 and $ 25,000 a day.

A set of fingernails painted by Vivian Xue, owner of the Pamper Nail Gallery in Fremont, California.

A set of fingernails painted by Vivian Xue, owner of the Pamper Nail Gallery in Fremont, California.

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“It was just some kind of big whirlwind of my dreams that was destroyed and then put together into something better,” she said.

While questions remain about how the pandemic could have permanently changed the workforce, Hernandez, Garrison and Xue gave them the opportunity not only to start their own business, but to earn more than ever in their previous jobs.

“I’m blessed to say that I can do all of this and just know that I’m growing something,” said Hernandez. “I can say, ‘Yes, (I) started all of this from a motorhome.'”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pandemic is causing people to quit their jobs and start their own businesses