By Naomi Boonstra
The world was inching its way toward operating online when COVID-19 pushed it over the edge. In a world where business takes place online, a generation who grew up surrounded by technology has an advantage. When businesses were pushed to rely on the internet more than ever before, Generation Z rose to the top. On the Walla Walla University campus alone, dozens of young entrepreneurs can be found thriving in the online world that was built for them.
Abigail Lombard, a freshman business major, found her way into entrepreneurship by exploring her love for creativity in online mediums. “I’ve always been really interested in different creative ways of expressing myself. I got a camera originally to do YouTube, and it led me into photography,” Lombard says. She’s found that promoting online is what works best for her photography business. She expressed that Facebook is where she’s found most of her clients, and that the digital age has made things easier than ever. 
The online world was no obstacle for Lombard as she was developing her business. “There’s so many ways of learning photography as well as promoting it,” Lombard says. “TikTok for instance—photographers blow up on TikTok. There’s been a few people whose photography has gone crazy and they’ve gotten so many clients. It also makes it easier to learn because everything’s so digitalized. A lot of workshops are online.” 
Gen Z seems to have a leg-up in attitude, as well. “I think that personality-wise, Gen Zs realize that there’s more opportunity to do what you want to do,” says Angelica Rodriguez, a sophomore product design major. “I know that lots of older generations didn’t have that, but I think it does help. I was able to see other people doing very niche things, and I could see what I could do.” 
Along with pushing business online, COVID-19 has impacted the economy greatly. Katherine Carr is a junior art major and the head of Geneius Art, a business which does freelance work, art commissions, and sells miscellaneous art pieces. She says, “COVID-19 has affected my business because fewer people are employed therefore fewer people have the money to purchase art for full price.” Rather than letting business go down, Carr decided to work around the problem. “In response to this issue, I have had to lower my prices and adjust my art style to keep business flowing.” 
Carr says, “I think that as someone who is Gen Z, we are more open to non-conventional ways of making money [and] have the drive to make things happen. We know what we want, and we figure out a way to pursue our dreams.” 
Gianni Paquini, a sophomore nursing major, says that COVID-19 impacted his photography business, as well. “Over the summer, I had to cancel, I’d say, 70% of all my shoots. I’m from California, and there were a lot of cases there, so people didn’t want any extra contact,” he says. Paquini responded to the threat to his business and made do. “I definitely advertised a lot more,” he says. “Towards the end of the summer, I was able to salvage a lot of the clients I thought I had lost. It was a big hit for my company.” 
WWU’s Gen Z entrepreneurs also give encouragement to anyone who is considering starting a business. Paquini says, “I think one of the biggest things is that I want to encourage people. I would encourage anyone to take the risk. We’re kind of living in a time when anything is possible. Taking a risk and investing in yourself and believing in what our creativity can do is the best thing.” 
Rodriguez says, “I think people are more kind to artists than we think. People like to see things that are personal and very pure and genuine, so as long as you’re doing things from the heart, you’ll be okay.” 
All of these entrepreneurs’ work can be found on Instagram, a very prominent promotional platform for Gen Z businesses:
Abigail Lombard – @abigailrae.photography
Angelica Rodriguez – @casabriro
Katherine Carr – @geneius.art
Gianni Paquini – @paquini_photography_
1. Teams interview with Abigail Lombard, 11/4/2020.
3. Teams interview with Angelica Rodriguez, 11/4/2020.
5. Email interview with Katherine Carr, 10/29/2020.
6. Teams interview with Gianni Paquini, 11/5/2020.
8. Teams interview with Angelica Rodriguez, 11/4/2020.