COVID: Pandemic Trends Offer Connection, Business Opportunities
We learned TikTok dances, gardened our previously untended yards, and solved Wordle puzzles with the regularity of taking our daily bread.
And there was also bread. Banana and sourdough – the list has grown and so have the many months of the pandemic.
Two years later, each new wave seems to bring a tide of new trends – hobbies that unite us, even setting some on a whole new career trajectory.
Curtis Pankratz, an associate professor in the University of Winnipeg’s sociology department, said the constant emergence of new trends over the many, many months of this pandemic shows our innate desire to be social.
“When we did our lockdowns and so on, we were controlling physical movement, but people still found ways to be social,” he said. “So people were doing things like sourdough or pickling or even gardening – all those things that were traditionally private hobbies, and they started doing them in a way that they could share them with other people. “
Jared Ozuk baked bread for decades before pictures of perfectly baked loaves started popping up on calendars all over the place.
(FYI: sourdough recipes ranked #4 in Google Trends searches of the year 2020 in Canada and #3 globally.)
He organized an online course for his family about a year into the pandemic and saw the opportunity to monetize his passion.
“I knew people would kind of be locked in their homes and want something to do, and there was kind of a surge in popularity for baking bread,” he said. “But for me, it was kind of a continuation of a lifelong dream. I never opened my own bakery, so it was like a kind of low-risk, easy-to-do thing with very minimal overhead.
Thanks to Winnipeg Bread, a Jared Ozuk teaches his students online how to make cinnamon rolls, pizza dough and many other carb-filled delights. (Source: Instagram/Winnipeg Bread)
Through Winnipeg Bread, a company he started with his cousin, Ozuk teaches his students online how to make cinnamon rolls, pizza dough and many other high-carb delicacies.
It’s a trend he hopes won’t fall as quickly as it has grown.
“Once the restrictions start to be lifted and once summer rolls around, how interested will people be in spending time online when they could be doing other things now, right? ?” he thought.
PANDEMIC PROMPTS MANITOBANS TO CHANGE FOCUS
According to Google’s 2021 year in searches, “how to start a business” was more searched than “how to find a job” last year.
Meanwhile, Canadian Trends 2021 shows “how to make money from home” as the third most searched “how to” trend, behind “how to get a vaccine passport” and “how to buy Dogecoin”.
Pankratz said the pandemic has also made many people reevaluate their careers based on who they are.
“If you ask someone, ‘what do you do’, we assume they mean ‘what do we do for the money? What is our job?’ This is because our normal practices are such an important part of who we are,” he said. “When you take that away, people kind of try to create new aspects for their identity, and they think, ‘How can I create an identity that I can share with people if it’s not necessarily based on the how do I spend eight hours a day doing my job?”
Jessie Pruden discovered part of her identity and a new job through a pandemic hobby – beadwork. She tried her hand at crafting in February 2020 in order to connect with her mixed-race roots and alleviate stress.
“I felt like I had to do something just to feel connected to people, and I thought beading would be a really great way to do that,” Pruden said.
She watched videos on YouTube and was inspired by her aunt, who is also a Métis maker.
Jessie Pruden, a Métis beader from Winnipeg and owner of Bead n’ Butter, started beading at the start of the pandemic. Now, her work will be spotlighted during Paris Fashion Week 2022. (Credit: Jessie Pruden)
Slowly she began creating her own designs, first making jewelry for friends. She eventually started a company named Bead n’ Butter in the summer of 2020.
Little did she know that her designs would hit the international runway less than two years after launching her business.
A New York store, Flying Solo ordered a collection of jewelry from Pruden. While he was working on this commission, another designer present with the store at Paris Fashion Week dropped out and Flying Solo offered the slot to Pruden.
Jessie Pruden’s Bead n’ Butter jewelry line hit the catwalks at Paris Fashion Week in February 2022. (Credit: Instagram/Bead n’ Butter)
“The experience was completely chaotic and really just a whirlwind and really weird. We’ve never been in that kind of sphere before,” she said.
A few days back in Manitoba after seeing her collection parade on the Paris catwalk, Pruden is still jet lagged but grateful for the opportunity.
Her new career path offers a refreshing change after 15 years in the restaurant industry. She thinks a lasting trend of the pandemic will be a move away from the bustle culture of a traditional workplace.
“That mindset where everything your employer says or does is fair, and I think a lot of people realized after taking a break and re-evaluating, that they were being mistreated, or they might be looking for something wrong. better,” she said.