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How 16 entrepreneurs turned their side hustles into lucrative businesses

How 16 entrepreneurs turned their side hustles into lucrative businesses
Careers1 min read
Pink Lily founders Chris Gerbig and Tori Gerbig.Courtesy of Pink Lily
  • Americans launched a record number of businesses in the last year.
  • Many people started their businesses out of necessity, others to avoid burnout and become their own bosses.
  • Here are 14 guides on how to start your dream business from a side hustle.

Having your dream career often begins with a side hustle before it turns into a full-time company.

In the last year, a record number of Americans started new businesses. Some launched out of necessity after losing their jobs, others left jobs that were causing burnout to become their own bosses. More than 448,000 businesses were created in June of this year alone, according to data from the US Census Bureau.

For those who want to chase their entrepreneurial dreams, here are 14 guides on how to start a business from a side hustle, from an at-home glamping service, to an online clothing store.

Social media marketing and branding freelancer

Social media marketing and branding freelancer
Lexi Cherizol is the founder of Pro Luxe Marketing.      Courtesy of Lexi Cherizol

Lexi Cherizol worked as a hospital phlebotomist in Orlando, Florida, until she joined the millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic. She took it as an opportunity to find a new career.

She launched Pro Luxe Marketing at the beginning of this year and saw her business take off once she posted marketing tips and advice on TikTok. In her most popular video, which has more than 31,000 likes, Cherizol shared how she planned 30 days' worth of content in under an hour.

Learn more about how she built her marketing and branding business.

Glamping business

Glamping business
Kenny Young is the founder of Pitched Glamping, a company that delivers at-home camping experiences to people's backyards.      Courtesy of Kenny Young

Kenny Young was a youth pastor for his local church until he burned out and got fired. His wife left her job at the same church and the two went on an RV roadtrip in California.

That sparked an idea to start a glamorous camping, or "glamping," business to deliver outdoor activity to people's backyards, complete with the amenities necessary for a family movie night or candlelit anniversary dinner.

In 2020, Young's company, Pitched Glamping, made more than $125,000 in revenue, according to documents reviewed by Insider. It operates in Minnesota and Arizona and employs seven people, including Young's wife.

Read more about how he built his glamping business.

Selling collectibles in live auctions

Selling collectibles in live auctions
Miguel Rivera is the owner of Master Poppins, a business that sells FunkoPops.      Courtesy of Miguel Rivera

Miguel Rivera collects and sells FunkoPop collectibles. In one night hosting livestreamed auctions, he can make between $1,000 to $4,000 and sells an average of 94 pops a show. According to documents reviewed by Insider, since his first auction in December, sales have totaled $40,648.

Whatnot, the app Rivera uses to host his shows, is just one of several startups popping up in the US as the live shopping trend becomes more popular. After recently becoming unemployed, Rivera is taking his business, Master Poppins, full-time and hopes to host one to two auctions a week.

Read about he advises other collectors can turn their hobbies into live-shopping side hustles here.

Online clothing store

Online clothing store
Pink Lily cofounder and CEO, Tori Gerbig.      Courtesy of Pink Lily

Tori Gerbig started selling clothes on Ebay and Facebook as a side hustle to pay off student loans. In 2014, she and her husband Chris launched an online shopping site called Pink Lily with the goal to hit $50,000 by the year's end. They met that goal within four years and have been growing ever since.

Today their company, based in Bowling Green, Kentucky, employs 300 people, operates a retail store, and has 200,000 square feet of warehouse space, Last year, the brand made $65 million in revenue, nearly double the previous year's revenue, according to documentation reviewed by Insider.

Read more about how the couple scaled their business and gained a loyal customer base.

Plant influencer

Plant influencer
Today, Plant Kween has 311,000 followers and collaborates with brands like Spotify on curated content.      (Courtesy of Christopher Griffin)

Christopher Griffin's Instagram account, which is under the moniker Plant Kween, is devoted to pictures of the 200 plants living in their Brooklyn apartment, tips on caring for the greenery, and useful botanical knowledge.

They started the account in winter 2016 — as a means of learning about something new after graduate school — grew it steadily to 311,000 followers and collaborates with brands like Spotify on curated content.

Read more about how Griffin built their Instagram side-hustle.

Independent moving company

Independent moving company
Chuck Kuhn, CEO and founder of the largest independently-owned trucking company, JK Moving Services      JK Moving Services

Chuck Kuhn founded JK Moving Services as a one-man, one-truck operation in Fairfax County, Va. when he was 16. Today, JK Moving Services is the largest independently owned trucking company in the US.

Recently, the DC-based company announced its 2021 growth plans to hire 100 drivers and raise drivers' annual salaries to $100,000 — nearly double the national industry average of $56,483, according to Glassdoor.

Read more about Kuhn's plan to raise salaries at his company.

Website flipper

Website flipper
Chelsea Clarke is the founder of Blogs for Sale.      (Courtesy of Friday Eve Photo)

Chelsea Clarke is the founder of Blogs For Sale, a company that flips little-known websites into desirable online businesses that can generate as much as $16,800 in a year.

Clarke said her startup took off last year as more people sought online revenue streams during the pandemic. In 2020, she earned $127,000 from flipping 13 websites and brokering sales for 50 more sites, documents reviewed by Insider verified.

Read more about how Clarke built her website-flipping business.

Hair care brand

Hair care brand
Bomba Curls founder and CEO Lulu Cordero.      Courtesy of Bomba Curls

Lulu Cordero was a pre-med student when she formulated a homemade remedy for her receding hairline. Her friends and family noticed her hair growing back more lush than ever and soon requested their own bottles of her blend, which she called Forbidden Oil.

That began her hair care brand, Bomba Curls, which she started out of her kitchen 10 years ago with just $5,000 in savings. She took her side hustle full-time in 2019 and last year saw 123% revenue growth and amassed a restock waitlist of 2,000 people.

Read more about how she started her business here.

Quarantine party kit

Quarantine party kit
Robbie Zweig and Jared Reichert are the cofounders of Kiki Kit.      Courtesy of Kiki Kit

When pandemic hit the event industry particularly hard, video conferencing apps like Zoom gave rise to virtual parties. Two event planners, Jared Reichert and Robbie Zweig, saw opportunity within the 'Zoom boom' by creating a party-in-a-box.

They started their company The Kiki Kit while in quarantine and sold out 18 days after their first launch. Within the first five weeks, the cofounders created their online business and generated $32,000 in sales.

While people may not be having zoom parties still, the threat of Delta could send us all back to virtual happy hours soon enough.

Read more about how they started their business here.

Hand-dyed yarn business

Hand-dyed yarn business
Kenyon shared his advice for launching a business around your passion, building community support, and how he stands out in a crowded market.      (Courtesy of Jake Kenyon)

In January, Jake Kenyon left his full-time job as a speech pathologist to pursue his side hustle: A hand-dyed yarn business called Kenyarn. The pandemic drove many consumers to crafts, like knitting and crocheting, which helped boost Kenyon's business.

Kenyarn's gross sales jumped from $33,000 in 2019 to $125,000 last year, and he's on track to surpass that figure this year, according to documents viewed by Insider.

Read more about how Kenyon built his hand-dyed yarn business.

Beauty brand

Beauty brand
Stormi Steele      (Courtesy of Stormi Steele)

Stormi Steele used to make hair care products in her kitchen while working in salon in 2012. She'd mix over-the-counter ingredients, such as flaxseed oil and vitamin E, in an effort to create a solution that would help her hair grow.

Today, Steele is the founder of Canvas Beauty Brand, which booked nearly $20 million in revenue last year.

Read more about how Steele built her hair-care business.

Art nonprofit

Art nonprofit
Mo Ghoneim      Lane Dorsey

In 2013, Mo Ghoneim and his cofounder started Arts Help as just an Instagram page reposting and highlighting the work from lesser-known artists around the globe. But as the page became more popular, he and his cofounder saw an opportunity to help make a real impact for people.

They self-funded and officially launched it as a nonprofit in 2018. It recently got $5 million in funding from billionaire Chris Larsen to address the climate crisis.

Read more about how Mo Ghoneim built his non-profit here.

Celeb-loved cakes

Celeb-loved cakes
Brittni Popp      Brittni Popp

Brittni Popp likes to help people commemorate their important life moments, whether that's a bridal party, divorce, or even an expunged DUI. Her business, Betchin Cakes, sells highly customized baked goods that come adorned with decorations like Barbie dolls or empty nips. I

n the two years since she launched her side hustle, she's landed high-profile customers like Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian. Betchin Cakes saw a 120% increase in sales from last year and is on track to book six figures in sales this year.

Read more about how she started her business here.

Marketing firm

Marketing firm
Sherane Chen

At 16, Sherane Chen started her first job at Steak-n-Shake as a waitress. By the age of 21, she'd launched a business specializing in restaurant marketing. Today her company has 17 clients and makes over six figures a year, according to documents provided to Insider.

Read more about her business and morning routine here.


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