A Year in Review: Stories of Resilience That Defined 2021

ProductPeople Innovation

As 2020 came to a close, we shared a roundup of some stories that inspired us throughout the year. We’ve now collected highlights of what impressed and inspired us through 2021, with a focus on stories of people who innovated to adapt to a changing world, paid it forward by helping and supporting their community, and found new ways to enjoy themselves and helped others do the same. We hope these stories inspire you as well.

Entrepreneurs created and adapted businesses to better serve consumers

Sarah Barrett Precautions
Sarah Barrett salon staff took extra precautions to keep clients safe.

Businesses prioritized the well-being of people and the planet by introducing greener products and adapting their services to maintain the health and safety of their patrons. At Sarah Barrett, a U.K.-based hybrid hair salon, spa, and lifestyle store offering organic and ethically sourced products, the owners opened an online store and integrated QR codes – enabling people to tend to their health in more ways than one.

People went above and beyond in the name of love by spending more money and time customizing and purchasing the perfect engagement ring or other sentimental jewelry—and jewelers such as Fenton in the U.K., PDPAOLA in Spain, and Shelter in Washington, D.C. were eager to adapt their businesses to help, including by offering virtual services and even home deliveries in some cases.

As people eagerly sought to try new things and explore new places, businesses drummed up ways to create immersive experiences. Brooklyn Pasta Lab in New York transported consumers to Italy—with no traveling involved—by supplying freshly made, traditional dishes for delivery and teaching the art of pasta-making through virtual cooking events that entire families, businesses, or groups of friends could enjoy together.

People explored and provided gateways to new hobbies to occupy newfound freedom

Brad's Bees
Beekeeper Brad Pounder and his two-year-old daughter, Elsie.

The popularity of nature-based, environmentally friendly hobbies, such as beekeeping, continued to swell. The beekeeping businesses of Brad’s Bees and Honey in the midwestern U.S., Flow Hive in Australia, and Alemany in Spain both enabled and benefitted from people’s rising interest in all things beekeeping, including an effort to help save the bees, better the environment, and reap the health benefits of honey.



Looking to join communities built on fitness and fun, people explored inclusive and energizing group sports and activities to practice and play. The Picklr, an indoor pickleball facility in Uintah, Utah, created and fostered a space where people can make connections on and off the court through the growing popularity of pickleball.

Two women playing pickle ball
People of all backgrounds and skill levels hit the courts at The Picklr to play the fastest growing sport in the U.S.

In Los Angeles, Pro SUP Shop, a stand-up paddleboard and kayak rental shop encouraged people to find calm and peace in open water. The sport allowed people—and their pets! —to get some much-needed exercise and time outdoors.

People also sought new ways to bloom in serenity as ongoing challenges tested the world’s collective patience and peace of mind. The calmness of gardening and overall magic of the Wylde Center, a green space in Atlanta and Decatur, Georgia, answered the call with its lush terrain, environmental education programs and socially distanced plant sales.

Inspiring leaders supported their communities in meaningful ways

Photographer Hasain Rasheed’s documentation of his beloved hometown, Oakland, California, took on new special meaning during the pandemic. In a place that already boasts a rich history and has triumphed in challenging times, Rasheed supported the community by documenting the year through a method that produces unique images: tintype photography.

As the owner of Studio BE—a haven for Black artists and a place where educational programs and creativity help bring message-driven art alive—New Orleans-based muralist Brandan “BMike” Odums used a PayPal Empowerment Grant to help keep his studio open in the pandemic and create a coloring book and activity guide for local students who lacked art classes during virtual schooling.

Studio BE
Art lines the walls inside Studio BE.

People worked diligently to address disparities and create economic opportunities for marginalized communities. Four standout women who are making an impact were crowned winners of PayPal’s Maggie L. Walker Award, an award recognizing the dedicated and equity-first efforts of women from underrepresented groups.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the inspiring leaders inside of PayPal: our many team members who volunteer to pay it forward, including through opportunities to invest in the future and support ingenious ideas of young entrepreneurs. PayPal volunteers mentored the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s 2020 business plan competition winner Jose Rodriguez, a college freshman who founded Tasium, a clothing company designed with people with autism and ADHD in mind.

All told, 2021 was a year marked by creativity and resilience, and these stories embody the new and clever ways that we reimagined life and business for the better, together. From all of us at PayPal, we wish you a happy and healthy New Year.

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