Students get creative when it comes to making money during the school year, using their skills and hobbies to start side hustles. Lots of talented UofSC students take their love for fashion, art or food to the next level by selling their products to people in Columbia. While a "side hustle" may sound like a small side job, they're much more than that. They take determination, passion and above all, time. While traditional jobs still exist for college students, more and more are instead using their talents and hobbies to make money, while also balancing college life.
Motivated by her love for helping others, UofSC senior Summer Rogers started Summer Doodles in high school to pay for her trips to Haiti. She first visited Haiti on a mission trip when she was 16 years old and was forever inspired by the impact she had on an orphanage there. Wanting to go back and help more, Rogers used her calligraphy and art skills to start her side hustle: Summer Doodles.
Summer Doodles started as writing invitations for weddings and showers, but has flourished into so much more. Rogers now sells a range of products to different audiences. Customers can buy bright artwork of their pets, unique graduation gifts or anything Gamecock-inspired. The Instagram page, @SummerrDoodles, features large canvases and framed artwork for any style of room. It also has products geared towards sorority women, like canvases and calligraphy for different chapters on campus.
While Summer Doodles has a variety of products, they all have something in common: the use of vibrant colors. A painting of a dog sounds simple, but Rogers uses unique color combinations and paintbrush strokes to make them anything but ordinary. The eye-catching colors and designs work well for pop-up shops around Columbia, like at Soda City, Green Street and local boutiques. Pop-ups are an effective way to increase exposure because they are only set up for a few hours, but they get lots of customers if they're set up in popular place, like on campus. In this way, Rogers only needs to dedicate a few hours of her busy college life to expand her side hustle.
“Pop-ups have definitely been a lot of hard work, but the reward that I have seen in the networking opportunity, meeting new people and really getting out there in my community has been just incredible,” Rogers said.
Pop-ups help improve a side hustle’s exposure while providing the owner with connections, but some products can’t be sold at a place like Soda City or Green Street. Cheesy Going, for example, is a charcuterie board business run by UofSC alum, Kerry Callaghan. Although pop-up shops are unrealistic for a charcuterie board business, Cheesy Going is still a successful side hustle.
Callaghan used her creative side to make charcuterie boards to bring friends and family together, and unintentionally created a side job. Her boards are pleasing to the eye and taste even better, as she perfectly pairs meats and cheeses together. They can be personalized for occasions, like Valentine’s Day, birthdays or graduations, and come in different sizes, as seen on her Instagram, @cheeesy_going.
While Callaghan didn’t plan on being a student with a side hustle, she learned a lot from the experience. “It was refreshing to be able to use my creativity on something outside of school,” Callaghan said. “I learned so much about time management, communication and budgeting too, all outside of a classroom setting.”
Trying to balance being a full-time student and running a side hustle is much more rewarding when students learn skills and gain unique experience while doing so. These students learn skills that can’t always be taught in classrooms, like how to make connections and market yourself. Although Cheesy Going is not based in Columbia anymore, Callaghan hopes to expand her market and continue her side job in New York City.
Shop Lila B is another student-run side hustle at UofSC. Lila Cromer started it out of her dorm freshman year, and loves spreading confidence through her jewelry.
“I have always had a passion for expressing myself through accessories and what I wear, but it wasn't until college when I really realized that I could build my passion into a business," Cromer said. “College gave me that extra boost of confidence to start something new and to not just stick to the norm.”
Shop Lila B sells unique jewelry, spanning from summery beaded bracelets to staple gold and silver pieces. It also has garnet and black game-day jewelry for UofSC, as well pieces for other schools nearby.
What makes Shop Lila B stand out is the handmade pieces. @shoplilab on Instagram showcases unique jewelry, like beaded bracelets with names of sororities, zip codes and team names. For a full-time student, making handmade jewelry can be tedious and time consuming, but Cromer's passion and talent makes it worthwhile.
“Each piece created is made with my customers in mind and tells a story. I wanted my customers to feel confident in the accessories they wear,” Cromer said. Shop Lila B aspires to spread confidence while creating fun accessories.
It may seem simple to take a skill and turn it into a successful side job, but customers usually just see the good side of these side hustles. They see the finished products, aesthetic social media and successful owners, but side hustles are so much more than that. Students with side jobs are also full-time students who have other responsibilities, and they can run into some challenges. What do these students do during finals? What about when they have big school projects to work on? Running low on time, resources and motivation can have negative effects, but Rogers has advice from first-hand experience.
“I would say the best thing that you can do is find your ‘why.’ Going on mission trips to a third world country and not being able to afford it is a pretty good motivator,” Rogers said.
Having a specific motivation behind a side hustle pushes students towards success. Whether it’s paying for something or making connections for your future, having that “why” can be the difference between a successful student-run small business and just a hobby.
Choosing to start a side hustle instead of working a traditional job in college has its benefits. Students can do what they’re passionate about, learn valuable skills and make connections that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to make. While there are challenges to being a full-time student and working a side hustle, these UofSC students show that all the hard work and long hours are worth it. Stepping out of your comfort zone and creating a side hustle from nothing sounds scary, but it’s worthwhile if you’re motivated and passionate.