While searching for old and rare cars at auctions across the ACT and regional NSW, Ilias Qael, Ragib Rahman and Khalid Saifullah started forging plans to start a new business.
Walking into their garage in Canberra, I meet Ragib Rahman working on a silver Audi A4. It's a 2000 model all-wheel drive with a manual transmission.
"We just installed a turbo", he tells me before we take it out for a spin.
It's a project car he found on Facebook Marketplace. The 21-year-old friends find cheap, neglected cars, restore them and sell at a profit.
Their latest business endeavour is mobile car detailing.
With business costs soaring and rent for office space eroding profit, online platforms allow businesses like Deluks Detailing to avoid shop-front costs.
In March 2023, 950,000 Australians held down more than one job - an increase of 89,000 people over the previous 12 months, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Many of those turning to side hustles are offering their services online.
Job outsource sites like Airtasker have reported increases in demand for Australians looking for services online.
Mr Saifullah found a gap in the market for online car detailing services and he says business has been solid since starting in the summer of 2022.
The science of car detailing
Professional car detailing isn't just a car wash, Mr Saifullah says.
It's a precise labour-intensive clean that revitalises vehicles from head to toe.
Despite recently launching their business on Instagram and Facebook their customer base ranges from families in the suburbs and utes from the bush to Canberra embassy staff wanting their cars spotless for official visits.
Mr Saifullah said the best part of their business was mobility.
"You don't have to come to us. We have a lot of elderly customers who can't come to us and people that just don't have the time," he said.
While answering my questions about the intricacies of car detailing, a Mercedes AMG C63 pulls up.
A build-up of brake dust and grime covers the sports car and the trio set to work.
"We always start with the wheels, then comes the foam; we have to remove all the dirt before we detail the paintwork," Mr Saifullah said.
Detailing the paintwork is the tricky part.
"It's essential you use the correct chemicals and proper wash techniques.
"Many car owners use sponges and brushes to clean their cars and don't realise the damage this causes to the paintwork."
Perfect clean comes at a cost
They've invested $10,000 in the business, most of that on cleaning products.
"People think I can just wash my own car, but we leave your car looking like it just left the showroom," Mr Saifullah said.
The second part of the detail is the interior. Mr Qael opens the doors of the AMG revealing the elegant cabin of the top-shelf performance machine.
"The customer isn't after a full interior detail so we're just going to vacuum the cabin and wipe it down," he said.
A full interior detail is a complex process that can take days, especially when the vehicle has been neglected, Mr Qael said.
"When we get a ute from the bush or a family car that's been trashed by the kids we remove the seats and get under every crevice there is," he said.
Mr Qael recently graduated from university and is working full-time in cyber security. Cars have always been his passion and, for him, the opportunity to collaborate with his friends and pursue their business ideas is a dream.
"It has been difficult to help my friends since I started working full-time but it's a passion of mine and working with my friends drives me forward," he said.
After 5pm clock off from his day job, Mr Qael is in the garage searching for cars to work on and responding to car detailing requests online.
Deluks Detailing has felt the pressure of the inflation wave, with a steep rise in the cost of cleaning products but he said working with friends protects them from economic challenges.
His dream is to eventually open a workshop.
"At the moment it's about growing the business and reaching a bigger crowd, but we eventually want to open our workshop," he said.
With the cost of housing eroding the "Australian dream" and governments struggling to address the housing crisis, Deluks Detailing in suburban Canberra is a story of my generation's resilience.
A global pandemic, indexation of university debt, and the rising costs of living are some of the challenges we have faced since graduating from high school.
It's comfortable to complain about the economy and binge Netflix series.
But online businesses and our tech-savvy upbringing have created new ways to achieve financial freedom.
As a young journalist who has just begun my career, I've written stories about the housing crisis and the difficult situations many renters are in.
Writing these stories has, at times, left me feeling pessimistic about the future, but I always meet people unconcerned about the negative news.
When I asked the trio about the future they weren't worried.
All they wanted to talk about was their love for cars and the story behind Deluks Detailing.