• The Team

How Insta businesses soared during Lockdown

Updated: May 19

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 global pandemic rained hellfire upon the economic sector of nations worldwide. By forcing multiple countries into surprise lockdowns, shutting down most companies and pushing people out of their suit and pants and into a shirt with boxers underneath during online zoom meetings, this hit was a brutal one that impacted many.

However, shockingly the same virus which led to the breakdown of markets worldwide, has led to a cultivation of markets of a different kind. Created, managed, and financed largely by this generation’s youth, the pandemic has brought out multiple “small businesses” or accounts that each promote and sell items pertaining to their particular niche. From online thrift stores sourcing and reselling bikinis or shoes at bargain prices, to teens selling all sorts of self-made products such as skincare and jewelry - the online market has taken over nations by storm through the introduction of an entirely new way of shopping at affordable cost.

An example of this is ‘Pink Pineapple’ an affordable online bikini store run by two sisters, Serena and Sanaya Dutt. These two girls have taken the trade by storm after introducing their sets. They state that they were “extremely disappointed” by “outdated styles, lack of size inclusivity” and extremely expensive fast fashion brands. So, they started their own business curating and presenting one-of-a-kind bikinis for women everywhere.

Considering that most fast fashion brands like H&M or Zara generally sell bikini bottoms at INR 700 and tops at an additional INR 1100 or more, it’s no surprise how quickly the store took off with their incredibly reasonable pricing and quality offering entire sets for as little as INR 1100.

Another example is owner of ‘Toebox’- Bhavesh Gera who works towards outsourcing quality footwear from large companies such as Nike overseas and making a broader market available to Indian wearers. He mentions the freedom of owning a small business makes it entirely worth the effort. “The biggest advantage is the swiftness with which we are able to take decisions for the brand and the other verticals that the venture is going to work upon”.

However, running these businesses is not easy. Many expressed disappointment at customers backing out or comparing them to fast fashion brands. Some customers often demand return policies or cash-back on custom orders which is a struggle point for these accounts due to lack of funding or storage space. Comparatively, other customers expect them to further lower prices and attempt bargaining them down from the fixed price simply because it’s a small business.

“They need to decide if it’s one or the other, we need these profits to continue providing new products for customers!” an anonymous business owner stated.

Although, a few irrational ‘Karens’ aside, many owners have suggested they enjoy interaction with their customers. When asked whether they’d like to expand, most stated that they’re perfectly content sticking to Instagram accounts as a way of working and claimed to actually prefer building personal relationships with them instead of growing into a commercial business. Just illustrating how much more compassion and care these smaller accounts hold for their customers.

This being said, the compulsive debate still remains, Fast fashion or small businesses? While some argue that small businesses are incredibly affordable and ethical, other say that fast fashion provides better guarantees for shipping and returns while allowing for easy browsing instead of anxiously awaiting a new drop and fiercely competing to be the first comment that wins an item considering it’s available in one’s size.

Therefore, while currently small businesses seem to hold an advantage, it’s difficult to state how well they will continue to do after the pandemic is over and people are able to visit stores in-person once more.