Gen Z Is Rewriting the Rules for Personal Finance in Real Time. That’s Good, Right?

In the summer of 2020, Matt Choon sat in his Brooklyn apartment surrounded by piles of boxes of CBD gummies and bags of designer clothing. He spent years trying to turn his e-commerce business Potion from a passion project into a sustainable revenue source, trekking through snow to beg bodegas to sell his products and throwing house parties just to get photos of guests with his brand’s logo. But collaborators had come and gone, and now it was just 24-year-old Choon, his roommate and a recently laid-off neighbor he hired to help with shipping Potion orders.

In an effort to really ramp up the business, Choon turned to TikTok.

Suddenly, a few videos of the gummies and clothing at pop up shops and street fairs with captions like “secret vintage designer pop up in NYC” changed everything. He watched as videos racked up thousands of views and lines formed down the streets.

Choon funded Potion, which is described as a hemp and cannabis brand, with his cryptocurrency investments — and just a few months after those first TikToks, he had a full-fledged retail space in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The Bowery Showroom is a CBD dispensary selling Potion products and clothing boutique featuring up-and-coming designers that pitch Choon their brands; it’s also a cultural hub for Gen Z creatives to host workshops and art installations. The walls are covered with art visitors can use to create backgrounds for their own social media posts, including a movable, puzzle-like display made out of carpet and a mirror you can write directly on with markers. Gen Zers waste no time pulling out their phones, filming videos of themselves exploring the shop and posing with friends. Choon and his team have made well over six figures since the store opened in late April.

“We just needed something that could show people beyond our immediate network what we were doing, and that ended up being TikTok,” says Choon, who was raised in downtown Manhattan. “An app for kids and cringey dance moves ended up being so much more than that.”

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