And while some struck gold on their first hit, others turned to a multitude of different industries and entrepreneurial opportunities to fill up their time at home. Anita Lo, a senior account manager for B2B technology companies, found a new use for her linguistic and fashion skills during lockdown and founded two separate side businesses.
“I studied French and Russian at University College London and grew up in a bilingual family,” Ms Lo commented.
“I decided to create my own tutoring account advertising the languages I know: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, and Mandarin.”
Alongside this, Ms Lo created the international clothing and antique virtual shop Clara’s Box in May 2020.
“I tutored languages in-person in London and that became virtual due to the pandemic, and it made me realise that now would be a good time to launch an online business.
“I’ve had an interest in fashion and antiques since young, always collecting and looking for bargains and unique items, so owning a business in this sector has been a dream job for me for a long time.”
Clara’s Box became such a success that Ms Lo was able to move into her own Cheshire apartment in July 2020.
“It is very encouraging to know that apart from local customers supporting Clara’s Box, there are also international customers from as close as France to as far as Nairobi.
“They include fashion designers, TV/film costume companies, and world-famous clients.
“My buyers trust my taste and say I have an eye for unusual, one-of-a-kind items that are desirable.”
Ms Lo has an intensive and focused work schedule in order to pay attention to each of her side hustles along with her day job and made it clear that running a one-woman-army is not as easy as it may look on social media.
“Tutoring is saved for after 6pm and weekends. Clara’s Box is run before 9am, in the evenings, and during the weekend.
“It is actually quite tiring to complete a 9-6 job during weekdays, focus on tutoring for a few hours each week in the evenings or over the weekend, and then also squeeze in time for my e-commerce shop.
“Due to Clara’s Box’s clothes being second-hand, I personally wash, mend, and steam clean items.
“This is in addition to product sourcing, visual merchandising, stock photography, photo editing, sales, customer service, packing and posting.”
“All my tutoring opportunities came from existing portals and websites that help people find tutors in a wide range of subjects,” she added.
Ms Lo is an advocate for utilising all the skills one already has when deciding to start a side business.
“My high school textiles lessons and sewing tips from my grandma are also essential as they come in handy when repairing clothes.
“Plus, my previous retail experience at Harrods and volunteering at the local Cancer Research taught me how to sell items, offer great customer service, visual merchandise, and size clothes.
“Try and gain some experience in your area of interest through volunteering, paid internships or work,” she concluded.