Bella Lin’s Journey to Side Hustle Success

Read how the Gen Z entrepreneur approached a unique problem with guinea pigs.

01.29.24
Bella Lin’s Journey to Side Hustle Success (Courtesy of Bella Lin/GuineaLoft)

California; HaywardIn a world where some pets are underrepresented, 17-year-old Bella Lin fills the gap in a market for critters that need more attention. Lin created GuineaLoft to give guinea pig owners an effective and stress-free way to own their pigs. 

With the innovative passion that she had developed during childhood, the young entrepreneur spoke about her mission with her business and product. "Making people happy with the product and hearing that their lives are made easier is part of the mission," the Bay Area native said.

Guinea pigs have always been a part of Lin's upbringing and the experience of owning them was vital to the creation and success of GuineaLoft. "When pet owners go to a pet store, they've got pretty much everything for dogs and cats. There's not a lot for reptiles, guinea pigs and other pets that are less common," said Lin, who attends Khan Lab School in the Bay Area. GuineaLoft came in to fill the gap in the pet ownership market and it has allowed Lin to fulfill her dream of being a business owner.

For the young business owner, this was always the goal. 

“Being able to start a business and fill a gap in the market has always been the dream and I think there’s true potential with GunieaLoft,” she said.

Growing up, her father had always encouraged the high school senior to chase her passion. She added that her father has the best influence and role model for her business decisions. 

"He has always taken business seriously and has always supported me whenever I wanted to do something related to my own business,” she said.  “I once sold slime in middle school and made lots of money. I wouldn’t have even started GunieaLoft if it wasn’t for my experiences from when I was younger." 

The mind behind GuineaLoft often gets asked about opportunities to gain exposure on huge platforms. 

"People ask me if I want to be on Shark Tank but personally I wouldn’t go on the show just because it’s not what I’m looking for. I wouldn't want to do it just for exposure either, I believe in my own product and being authentic,” the Gen Z business owner said.

While GunieaLoft has taken off, Lin has her eye on another business — TLeggings — an athletic clothing brand. She said while in middle school, the quality of the physical education clothing wasn't as good as she thought it could be. She wanted something better and her idea was to collaborate with her middle school to make better gym clothes. In the end, nothing happened. After that, she decided to start her own brand of athletic clothing.

“Our products are made with quality fabric that is designed to last, features 4-way stretching, wicks sweat, and are not see-through. They are designed to fit you and your lifestyle,” according to the website.

Post-high school plans for Lin are currently up in the air, but the Gen Z entrepreneur has applied to several business schools. “I just finished my last college application. Depending on how business looks by the time decisions come back, I may take a gap year. The door to college isn’t closed but I still want the experience of higher education. I want to enhance my knowledge of business and also network,” Lin said.

The future is bright for Lin and GuineaLoft. Lin hopes to expand the current endeavor into an innovation that allows more pet owners to feel represented and heard. “Eventually, I want GuineaLoft to become a household brand that bigger companies start offering in their stores," Lin said.

While running a business is no easy task, the efforts have paid off for Lin. Some of the unique tasks that come with selling a product include communicating with manufacturers overseas and even going to China to work on the business. “The difficulty on a scale of 1 to 10 is at least an 8, sometimes 9 or even 10. It’s never easy but it’s all about passion,” Lin said.

GuineaLoft products include cages, bedding, pellets and more.

Noumaan Faiz, (he/him) is a journalist and entertainer from Hayward, CA who covers culture and entertainment.

Edited by Nykeya Woods

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