The allure of small business internet

A starter pack for going down the rabbit hole of small business owners on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.

There’s a family joke based on a childhood video of mine in which I’m running around our driveway naked, demanding my dad hand over the garden hose he’s using because “I wanna do it.” “I wanna do it” has been an oft-repeated phrase in my life, both by people referencing the video, and by me, in my own head, because that urge to try whatever interesting thing I see people doing has never gone away. That’s how I got here, in my Brooklyn apartment kitchen wondering aloud: “Should I open a sourdough microbakery?”

Small business TikTok is to blame. The hashtag has over 540 million views on the app, which is just one corner of the internet where small business accounts and content thrives. TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram are all hotbeds of Gen Z and millennial users documenting the aesthetic satisfaction of a day in their lives making merchandise and packing orders with colorful washi tape and wax seals. 

Slowly, my algorithms have shifted away from the dance videos and #vanlife content that dominated my 2020 pandemic internet use almost exclusively to pottery studio tours, candle pouring, packaging montages, and sourdough micro baking—and of course, I’m paying particularly close attention to the videos that tell me how I could do it, too. One day. —Kate Lindsay

Small Business Starter Pack

1 Lily’s Loaf, a London-based microbakery.

2 From Tree To See, a Canadian ceramicist.

3 @Afro_Beets, a Washington D.C.-based urban gardener and educator. Find him on TikTok.

4 Cheyenne Barton, a Seattle-based illustrator.

5 Stephanie Zheng, founder of Mount Lai beauty tools. Find her on TikTok.

A post shared by @mountlai

6 Polly Vadasz, a Manchester-based giftware designer.

A post shared by @pollyvdsz