According to a recent study, 54% of Gen Z want to run their own business. Teen sisterpreneurs Isabel and Caroline Bercaw began doing so when they were just 11 and 12 years old.
Heralded as the innovative, tech-savvy, social-change focused and self-starting generation, Gen Z is altering the face of entrepreneurship for good.
Armed with lofty ambitions and a strong desire to lead purposeful lives, a substantial majority of these hyper-cognitive digital natives are approaching their futures with the belief that owning a business is the key to success.
In fact, according to a recent Nielsen study, over 54% of Gen Z stated they wanted to found their own company, with a large portion of the demographic also questioning whether college is necessary to achieve their goals. At the helm of this generational shift towards self-starting and entrepreneurship are sisters Isabel and Caroline Bercaw, who built a multi-million dollar brand from the ground up long-before they had even graduated high school.
Building a company from the ground up
Dissatisfied with the bath bombs available to them at the time, specifically put off by the messiness of such products, the sisters were just 11 and 12 years old when they began experimenting with making their own.
‘It was a hobby at first,’ explains Caroline, now 18. ‘We would feel disappointed when using one as it’d leave residue in the tub and thought we could improve on them ourselves. That’s when we decided to formulate a ‘clean fizz’ recipe using only a few simple ingredients.’
‘Da Bomb’ was born out of this idea (and a generous $150 loan from their mother – their first and only investment they tell me). Fast forward seven years and the company is thriving, stretching nationwide with more than 200 employees currently working at its warehouses.
But entrepreneurship is no easy feat and guiding a business to this level of success is evidently not something that happens overnight. Self-starters in every sense of the word, the sisters are a leading example of how unrelenting determination and a positive attitude can go a very long way.
‘When you’re going into starting a business you can’t go in thinking that everything is going to go your way,’ says 19-year-old Isabel. ‘You have to go in expecting to work extremely hard and solve problems 90% of the time because things will get thrown at you and it’s going to be hard to handle.’
How Gen Z are shifting entrepreneurial strategies
This solid understanding of the potential obstacles that may arise en route – impressive for their age I might add – is what distances Gen Z (and the sisters along with them) from the generation before them in the way they innovate and do business. Indicative of their resilience, it’s a sentiment echoed by Caroline, who stresses the importance of staying ‘humble during the highs and hopeful during the lows because there will be ups and downs throughout.’
Plausibly attributable to technology, a McKinsey study captures how Gen Z’s online presence has made it a great deal easier to translate digital learnings into real-life situations of employability. In a world that’s consistently evolving to be more tech-heavy, a generation fluent and agile in its applications is invaluable. The Bercaw sisters are well-aware of its significance, beyond how it prepared them for the trials and tribulations of running a business.
‘If you can keep up with technology, you’re already one step ahead in the business world so growing up with social media has helped tremendously,’ says Isabel. ‘It’s not only been integral to the documentation of our journey but has been a huge part of developing our business as it’s an amazing way to connect. We’re the target market, so we knew how to use it to our advantage.’
Giving back to charity through business development
It’s also worth mentioning that, as an added result of this, Gen Z is reportedly the ‘most informed, evolved, and empathetic generation of its kind.’
Social media has given the sisters a heightened social consciousness that’s reflected in their work with various sustainability and humanitarian charities. Catering to conscious consumers with a tendency to gravitate towards companies whose morals personally align with theirs, the sisters also credit their early start in the industry to their passion for supporting social change causes.
‘When you’re young, you have a filter that allows you to see past the money and concentrate on your own morals,’ says Isabel. ‘Activism is so integral to the way we’ve been raised; we’ve known we wanted to do something like this, to give back, ever since we were little.’
Referring to Da Bomb’s donation of over $100,000 from sales of its popular Earth Bomb product to The Water Project, which provides underprivileged communities with clean water, the sisters’ munificence shines through.
‘I know a lot about what this can do for people, especially women,’ says Isabel. ‘All of a sudden they can stay in school longer and get the education they deserve. Something as simple as clean water can completely change someone’s life.’
And although they don’t claim to use ‘all natural’ ingredients as a marketing tactic due to concerns that brands still aren’t transparent enough (because, let’s be honest, anything seems to pass as ‘natural’ these days), Isabel and Caroline clearly hold the issue of protecting our environment close to their hearts.
‘All our packaging is made with recycled and recyclable materials and we have a plastic-free alternative in the works as well,’ says Caroline. ‘Another of our favourite charities to donate to is actually run by a fellow Gen Zer called Boyan Slat, CEO of The Ocean Cleanup which uses a device to gather microplastics that are otherwise virtually impossible to remove.’
To date, Da Bomb has donated a total of $250,000 to organisations cleaning our oceans and providing drinkable water to schools and villages in Africa.