Business People and Community

A side hustle to make ends meet

More and more people are dabbling in side jobs to bring in some extra cash, a growing trend helped along by social platforms and an entrepreneurial spirit.
Custom items

Freshman Gianna Centurion creates customized apparel as her side hustle. Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami 

The U.S. economy may be enjoying one of its strongest periods, yet a recent survey by said that 1 in 3 American workers have a side hustle in order to make ends meet.

Stagnating wages, increasing personal debt, health emergencies, or funding special events or vacations are among the reasons why workers take on a second job.

“The idea that you get all your income from one job died with the Gen X generation, in part because of a lack of wage increases and cost of living increases,” said Brian Breslin, director of The Launch Pad at the University of Miami. “I think it is hard for millennials and Gen X to survive from an entry level job anymore.”

Arnose Byfield, office manager of the University of Miami Office of Pre-Health Advising and Mentoring, has her full time job and several side hustles.

For the past five years, she has devoted her evenings to creating customized baby shower ornamental “cakes,” which she sells on Etsy. Her ornamental cakes include stuffed animals, onesies, paper diapers, and other similar items. She sells them for about $90, plus shipping.

She sells about 20 cakes a month.

“I do this to both supplement my income but also to express my creativity,” she said. “I enjoy getting feedback from friends and others that they really enjoyed what I made.”  

Byfield, who is married and has three children, also has a side hustle providing cleaning services on weekends. She charges according to the size of the house; this can range from $80 to $100.   

Traditionally, students took jobs tutoring, babysitting, or dog walking to earn extra income while attending college. Now many students are expanding their reach and in many cases using the skills they have gained in school to launch side hustles.

Nosa James
Nosa James

Nosa James and his business partner Nico Gomez, both seniors at the Miami Herbert Business School, decided to take their shared knowledge to launch Talento Solutions Group, an agency that does research and marketing for small businesses and start-ups. Networking at conferences, meet and greet events, and founder meetups for startups, they have attracted three clients, which will bring them a few thousand dollars in earnings over three months’ worth of work.       

“The best way to learn about business is to start a business,” said James, who has been offered a full-time position with JP Morgan Chase in New York City after graduation. “We do this not only to make money but also to learn about business and extend our network of contacts.”

The advent of social media has facilitated a gig economy that provides greater access to different marketplaces – such as eBay and Facebook Marketplace and others – for sellers, said Breslin.

Emerging technology also offers a myriad of opportunities to young entrepreneurs, said Michael Wilson, director of entrepreneurship programs and senior lecturer of management at the Miami Herbert Business School.

“Today’s millennials have a language about entrepreneurship that we did not have,” Wilson said. “They have access and channels to people who have done it, taught it and can connect them. The way things are streamlined provides them a way of monetizing and sharing that we did not have. We did not have the platforms.”

A platform as ubiquitous as Instagram has replaced the “word of mouth” method to gain a market, said Wilson. He has several students who use Instagram (and all their contacts) to promote Sephora, the chain of beauty stores. In exchange, they receive beauty products.

Instagram is the platform of choice for freshman Gianna Centurion, who creates customized apparel – everything from jean jackets to colorful sneakers – with the colors of universities and different institutions.

Even in high school at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy her designs, which she drew on her iPad, would attract the attention of her classmates. Centurion created an Instagram account to market her items to students who wanted things customized with the colors of the colleges they would be attending.

She still markets her services though that account. The buyers provide the shoes or t-shirts and Centurion charges $70 for the commissioned designs, which are decorated with acrylic paints.

On a good month, she makes about $300, she said. But each pair of shoes can take her up to one week to finish.

“I do it because it is super fun and it gives me a good way to destress from schoolwork,” Centurion said. “I mostly do it because it offers me a different way of expressing myself. I enjoy it a lot.”