Let’s make one thing clear, I like to think of myself as being resilient as hell. I enjoy taking care of myself. And even though the job market has been a personal hell for me, let me talk about my side hustles and freelancing this essay.
I was not strongly encouraged to get a job in high school so I can enjoy school. That did not stop me from making money a time or two. I had the summer with Annie the Clown and I babysat a time or two. Both gigs found by my mother who often distorted her own rules. When it was my turn to make my own rules, I took the time to look for work that was mutually beneficial to me. And that is when I sold jewelry to a shop called Yuri Suki.
The shop’s owner, named Robert, was a caustic individual. He liked to talk down about his own community, Black people. He owns a shop that sells African imports but refuses to educate people on the customs of the works that he owns. I remember walking by him talking to a casual acquaintance and I mentioned that I made jewelry. He asked me to make some earrings for him. The arrangement was he paid for materials and I would turn them around into earrings at $60 for twenty pairs every two weeks. This agreement paid for my groceries for a few months. I sold to him for a year at least. Then LC asked me what was his mark up. He sold the earrings for $10 a pop. At the time, since it took me two hours to finish the work, I did not care too much. Making jewelry for him added to my personal beading stuff and gave me a reason to enhance my skillset.
I stopped when he wanted a new style and I was entering my TESOL program. I don’t miss working for that man.
Then there was the time cat sat for a neighbor around the corner. I loved doing that. For $10 I would walk around the corner and pop a can of Fancy Feast and scoop the litter for her cute calico. Took me five minutes. Sometimes longer if he had knocked over his litter box. But the money was easy and I got to play with a cat and run.
My favorite one-off gig was one that came on an interview with a local nonprofit. The interviewer saw my work and her face lit up. She said she was looking for someone to make a book of quotes up. This gig was a godsend as I was scraping by at the time. I set up the book and sent it to the print house. It took less than two weeks to get my payout.
I also like my city’s pride center for a bit. They offered me a part-time gig doing weekly web maintenance. Easiest money I ever made. When it turned into a full-time job for part-time pay, it became a burden. But it was fun at first.
Last but not least was my burlesque work. I loved doing this work since I had control of the end result in a sense. And while its pay was contingent on the audiences that came out for the performances and shows, I low key miss it. I miss organizing the shows and lead up to them. It did not matter if the pay was a pittance. I was willing to work for those pennies.
And that is the end of my hustle bone. I did do the occasional selling of former home goods often as well but that was only when people moved out. And I told that tale.