Pursuing extra cash or a creative outlet
Upon graduation, I did what most young 20-somethings do: I got a job. And like most young 20-somethings, my job did not pay my rent, at least if I also wanted to purchase luxuries like food and toilet paper.
So aside from my 8-to-5 receptionist job, I also took on tasks like flipping hamburgers and catering tennis club functions, which drained all of my energy and frankly brought me down. It wasn’t until I began working the night shift at a local newspaper that the extra gig no longer felt like work. While I was exhausted, it was worth chugging deli coffee at midnight to run editorial copy and cover sketchy stabbings. I had a side hustle, and it was fabulous.
More than 44 million Americans have a side hustle, or a method of pursuing extra cash in addition to their day job. Side hustles allow people to pursue a passion on the side while still making enough income to survive and for many, their work on the side provides a creative outlet they don’t necessarily tap into during their regular working hours.
A cooking bug, for instance, leads to a catering job. An amateur photographer freelances shooting photos. A person who hates chaos realizes they have a knack for organizing other people’s closets. Whether it’s jewelry making or pottery, playing music at parties or doing stand-up comedy, the options for a side hustle are endless. Mostly, it depends on what you love.
For Anjelica Cummings, who, with her sister Francesca started Prospect Baking, the side hustle came from a desire to do more with her family.
“We started by brainstorming ideas of what we could create as a family, something that played off and integrated each of our talents,” said Cummings. “We started by asking ourselves questions: What would satisfy our need for a creative outlet? And because we’ve always baked, what kind of business could we create that would also satisfy our sweet tooth?”
By day, Anjelica is an internal communications specialist for a local technology company, and Francesca is a physician’s assistant. Together, they run Prospect Baking Company on the side. Admittedly without much free time, both sisters put all of their extra energy into building their business, calling one another late at night to review and confirm orders and discussing ideas for improvement.
“We feel the busy-ness and hustle gives us energy,” Cummings says. “We’ve tapped into a part of ourselves that thrives on the ability to work, create and build something together. With an extra cup of coffee in hand, doing the work as a family makes everything much more manageable. Even on the hardest days when we feel like giving up, we know we aren’t in it alone, and so we keep pushing forward.”
With full support from their families and their day jobs, Anjelica and Francesca are growing their business as organically as possible, with a “slow and steady” mantra. They rely on each other as sisters and feed off of one another’s energy. Their dream, they say, is to grow Prospect Baking Company and see their pound cakes on the shelves of national grocers.
“We haven’t yet let ourselves consider the idea of parting from our full-time gigs, mainly because those roles are much more than jobs to us, they are true passions,” Cummings says. “Fortunately our parents are also bakers and have been the extra set of hands to keep the business growing, while letting us continue to thrive in our full-time jobs. So for now, we are happy continuing to burn the midnight oil, working by day and baking by night.”
For Evan Weinstein, his side hustle of metalsmithing is more of a hobby instead of a full-fledged business. Finding his passion after graduation, Weinstein gained an appreciation for hand-made works through his good friend William Cheek, a leather worker.
“I’ve always created art throughout my life and after graduating from a fine art college, I took a lot of those skills home,” says Weinstein. “I enjoy the challenge and the originality of every piece I make. It’s hard to consider it a business at the moment because, aside from some upcoming shows and the few commission pieces, I really don’t feel I dedicate enough time to it.”
Currently employed as an art director at a marketing agency in Raleigh, the majority of Weinstein’s day-to-day roles fall into the graphic design category, which, in his words, basically means sitting in front of a computer and thinking of deep, conceptual messaging. Metalsmithing provides diversity in his routine.
“This is where I see a balance in metalsmithing,” said Weinstein. “It gives me a break from being so conceptual and lets me be more hands on.”
Like Anjelica Cummings, Weinstein’s company knows about his side hustle and supports it. Some of his colleagues even commission him for personal projects. And also like Cummings, Weinstein says free time is hard to come by, finding himself working late into the night if he wants to progress on his personal projects. But he says the enjoyment he gets from his side hustle is worth giving up some non-productive free time.
“I would highly suggest finding a craft or hobby that can possibly one day become a side business,” Weinstein says. “A lot of people nowadays just waste away in front of digital media and aren’t finding productive uses of their time. Plus, I just see growing a skill and having a passion as an attractive trait, so I try to stand behind it.”