If you’re like us, you’re getting used to online classes and not leaving your room for anything. Who doesn’t like the idea of going through an entire semester in pajamas, right? But while studying at home has its charm, it does have one glaring disadvantage: no allowance! And no allowance means you can’t afford to buy your Gen Z essentials—like data, games, milk tea, arts and crafts materials, a cute blouse, a tiktok filter, maybe a fancy new gadget, handmade Kpop fan merch, and, yes, Pop Fiction and MPress books.
We don’t know about you, but asking our parents for money is always an awkward conversation. So we interviewed nine students and Gen Z-ers who are earning real money from the side hustles they do at home and between online classes. Here are stories of seven Gen-Zers who started their own businesses and earned real money:
1. Danica Shanelle Maquirang of Ooh La La - Marcos Highway
Eighteen-year-old Danica Shanelle Maquirang is a Grade 12 Accountancy and Business Management major from the University of the East and the entrepreneur behind @salient.ph, which is an online shop that sells accessories. When the pandemic started, she began working at @oohlala_marchoshighway, which is a home-based milk tea delivery business franchised by her family where she gets a monthly salary.
Oh, and she’s also a big Pop Fiction fan! When she was younger, she would spend her allowance on books. Her all-time favorite book is She’s Dating The Gangster. “I remember that this book made me cry in bed all night,” she says.
She started her online shop, @salient.ph, to ensure that she was still earning money—and adding to her savings—during school breaks when she wouldn’t get allowance from her mother. When the pandemic started and classes moved online, there was no more allowance at all, so she began working for their family milk tea business instead.
“We started this business because my ate’s and kuya’s jobs were affected and temporarily stopped during the pandemic. @oohlala_marcoshighway became our temporary source of income during the lockdown. I help manage the business in exchange for a monthly salary,” Danica says.
They first franchised the brand in July 2020, selling fruit juices and milk teas to ride on the undeniable Pinoy craving for flavored tea. When they started, their biggest worry was the competition. There’s a milk tea shop in every corner, it seems—but then they realized that all businesses have competition. Though they were happy with the initial taste of their products, they also strived to improve by looking for better ingredients.
Their goal now is to expand their business, reach more potential customers, and (of course) constantly earn profits. They want to outdo the standards of other famous fruit tea and milk tea shops in the future. Danica also plans to restart her online accessories shop as soon as it's safe for her to go out and outsource products herself.
2. Ethan David Santos-Paris of Sushi Bake by Ethan
Ethan David Santos-Paris is the 18-year-old self-taught junior chef behind @sushibakecvt, where he sells trendy sushi bake trays and other goodies that he made himself.
He’s a Grade 12 Hospitality and Management major from Southville International School Affiliated with Foreign Universities. He taught himself how to cook so he can feed himself at midnight during online gaming breaks, but cooking has been his passion since he was a child. “I started this business because I wanted to spend my own money and not ask [money] from my mom. For me, it felt right spending something I worked hard for. It gave me a feeling of accomplishment,” he says.
He chose to make and sell sushi bake because, a.) it’s trendy, and b.) he loves Japanese cuisine. Especially sushi.
“I know baked sushi is not from Japan, but I like that there’s something taken from [that country] and remade it an unorthodox way,” he explains.
To get started, he borrowed the capital from his mom—which he’s proud to say he’s already paid back in full. Lack of manpower was one of the challenges they had to face from day 1. They received a lot of orders right away, so he had to ask for help from his family to package his products and arrange delivery schedules. Ethan was also juggling school work with the business, and he had to schedule baking days between classes.
Working out how to bake in bulk was also quite a math puzzle. He had to figure out the right ratio and proportion of ingredients, but he says he learned along the way.
“In all honesty, I just want to show everyone that I can create dishes that can bring a smile to [people’s] faces. Monetary rewards can wait,” he says.
3. Dia Cunanan and Toni Ursua of Style Art PH
Friends Dia Cunanan and Toni Ursua are the young entrepreneurs behind @styleartph, where they sell shirts, tote bags, stickers featuring Toni’s artwork.
Their business began when there was a demand for Toni to put her artworks on merchandise on Twitter. “Toni really does love drawing, [especially portraits of] people we idolize the most. To be able to share it with a lot of people for them to use and flaunt makes the business more enjoyable for us to make,” Dia says.
They use the profits to help them cover their needs for school like buying art materials for their assignments and schoolwork. Dia, 21 years old, is an Interior Design major from the Philippine School of Interior Design, and Toni, 20 years old, is an Architecture student from Far Eastern University.
“We needed the basics: reliable item suppliers, an organized spreadsheet for orders, a trusted courier, a social media account, and strategy to make our business known,” Dia explained, listing down the hurdles they had to face before setting up their own little startup.
It was hard for them to gain the trust of their first few customers. Their business model relies on preorders and a pay-first basis policy. They also struggled with finding a reliable courier and supplier.
Today, they aim to become known among the Kpop fandom community as a shop for affordable and good-quality fan merchandise. For the long term, they hope that their business can help cover their college needs and promote their artwork.
“I’d like Toni’s artworks to become well-known because she’s really good. I’m really here to support the art of my favorite local artist. That’s the goal,” Dia says.
4. Sofia Arcilla of Manila Finery
Manila Finery is an online jewelry store started by Sofia Arcilla, a 20-year-old dentistry major from UE Manila. She sells affordable gold-plated jewelry sourced from Korea and China on her Instagram account.
“My vision is to offer luxury at an accessible level without having to compromise on quality and variety. I love art and fashion, and I needed an outlet where I can express my creativity and sense of style,” she says.
Sofia began by educating herself about budgeting. She’s thankful that her parents taught her the basics. Her initial capital was P8,000, which covered the actual stocks and the packaging. She also secured reliable suppliers and courier services on top of creating her own publicity materials (made for free on Canva!) for posting on her page.
“I started an online business because I wanted to have at least a small income so won’t have to be fully dependent on my parents financially,” she says.
But like most startup businesses, Sofia’s business faced many difficulties. In her first month, she encountered a problem with her supplier. Stocks were taking so long to arrive that it made the business look bad. She ended up changing suppliers.
Another challenge for her business was getting the exposure she needed to sell her products.
Today, her goal for the business is to reach a bigger market.
“For the long-term, I would want my business to have more collaborations with organizations and other online shops—and hopefully ship internationally,” she says.
5. Karla Meryll Mae Perante of Sun and Moon
Karla Meryll Mae Perante is a 20-year old Architecture student from the Far Eastern University and the sticker creator and designer of @sunandmoon.ph on Instagram.
She loves all things K-pop, but did you know that Karla is a true-blue #PopFictionatic as well? “I love Pop Fiction books! I remember I could finish a book in only two to three days. I remember feeling all the kilig and the heartaches I got from those books,” she says. Her favorite remains Operation: Break the Casanova’s Heart, but she also likes She’s Dating The Gangster, A&D, Ang Boyfriend Kong Artista, The Bet, and A Place In Time.
In 2020, her family struggled financially, and this compelled her to find some other way to earn money. She decided to capitalize on her talents, as well as her K-Pop and Hallyu fangirling.
“Stickers are used everywhere—designs for phone cases, journaling, memorabilia... They’re affordable, too!” she says.
To start her sticker business, she needed more than her talent. She needed drawing equipment, cutting and packaging materials, as well as a great deal of guts. She knew that starting a business was very risky (especially now), and she had no experience in running a business. Like many of the businesses here, she’s had to contend with supplier problems and the struggle to turn followers into customers. But initially, her biggest challenge was finding the capital to start.
“I didn’t have any money at that time to start a business (that’s the main reason I’m eager to earn money), and I didn’t want to ask my parents either [because] I know they’re struggling to find money as well,” she says.
“Luckily, I have a ninong who gave me his super duper late (two years late!) gift for my 18th birthday: a one thousand peso bill. That gift led me to start my business.”
She plans to expand her sticker business to selling other fan-made merchandise like fan kits and photocards. She also wants to resell albums and other fan memorabilia if she can find legit suppliers.
In the future, she’d also like to open a Kpop-themed coffee shop under the same sun&moon brand name.
6. Myle Lingayo of Bake Day PH
Myle is a pre-press graphic artist on most days, and is a baker on her days off. As a recent college graduate, she decided to go back to her hometown because of the work-from-home situation that many companies implemented early last year.
During that set-up, she felt like she needed to do other things around the house other than working and doing her usual Netflix binges. So on her free days, she decided to bake cookies and create a cookie shop named Bake Day PH (@bakedayph).
“We sell varieties of cookies made with quality ingredients,” Myle says. “Having tried a lot of cookies when I was still in Manila really set my cookie preference. Since I know how to bake and know how I like my cookies, I thought, people should try mine!”
The idea also came about because no one else in her hometown was selling homemade cookies when she first started. Since she already had the necessary tools and equipment, all she needed to do was to secure ingredients.
But when many other people also got the bright idea of selling cookies, she faced a scarcity of supply. It became hard to secure crucial ingredients for her baked goods.
Myle said, “I had to (personally) message store owners here so I’d get a notification if there are stocks available. Eventually, nagkaroon na rin ng ibang ingredients online so that was helpful.”
At the moment, Bake Day only caters to residents of Gumaca, Quezon, but Myle hopes to extend the availability of her cookies to other provinces and Manila as well in the near future.
A reader herself, her little cookie biz has helped her get some extra dough for her MIBF and Christmas book shopping. Some of her recent purchases include peachxvision’s Tibok and raindrops_’s The Way It Was Before.
7. Colleen De la Rosa and Myke Vitasa of Get Baked PH
Colleen and Myke are recent college graduates from Envarga University. Colleen works a day job as a nurse, and bakes cakes on her days off duty with her boyfriend Myke. This sweet (and sweet-toothed) couple turned baking into a bonding activity! They then established Get Baked as a way to get extra income after Myke’s on-the-job training got postponed due to the pandemic.
“Since high school, I’ve always wanted to learn how to bake, but I never got to do it because I particularly don’t like sweets,” says Colleen. “But when I met Myke, he made a cake just for me that has just the right amount of sweetness to it. Then, when the pandemic hit and we needed extra cash, I figured it would be great to sell it to other people like me who don't have that big of a sweet tooth.”
It was definitely an uphill climb to get the business up and running at first, especially since they had to start everything from scratch. “We’ve [had some bad luck] on the basic basic tools and equipment. Even our oven at home started malfunctioning after we gathered the minimum ingredients to start out,” she recalls. After a few fixes, and with Myke bringing in some of their own equipment from home, they managed to get a few people hooked on their Dream Cakes: chocolate and banana-flavored goodies.
Soon, they were able to cater to more people, and continued to make the not-so-sweet treats during their dates.
As for the endgame, Colleen says, “We hope to make more cakes, and not just during our dates. We want our Dream Cakes to be known as THE CAKE, with the best ingredients and we hope to have our own little bakery to cater more orders.”
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*This story originally appeared on Popfictionbooks.com. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.