We asked students with side hustles how they’re still making bank in lockdown
They make it sound so easy
There’s fuck all to do at the moment, right?
As your capacity to hold stale conversation with your rents starts to dwindle, and it’s more of a struggle now than it ever has been to find something on Netflix, now that you’ve rinsed it for everything it’s worth, you wouldn’t be alone if your mind has started to wonder what else you could otherwise be doing to occupy your mind. Well, not only is now a good time to start busying yourself with learning/bettering a craft, but students are actually making serious money while in isolation!
From jewellery to clothing, here are some of the inspired students and graduates in the UK making money from the comfort of their bedrooms:
Ben – BCAPS
Ben is a Northampton grad who started his business in his second year of university. He now has a blue tick and is recognised as one of the top sellers on Depop. BCAPS is a jewellery business that starts from as low as £2.49, garnering the attention of many famous faces, from Camelphat to Flava D.
Ben told us that the business was born out of a lack of many varied pieces of jewellery on Depop: “When I started looking at buying myself necklaces I saw there weren’t very many jewellery vendors on Depop and knew I could start selling my own jewellery on the platform.”
And that he did – he has sold well over 6,000 pieces of jewellery to date, and now has over 2,000 five-star reviews on Depop. Speaking of how easy it was to set up as a business during uni, he told The Tab: “It was very easy whilst at uni. I wanted to make some money whilst doing my degree, but wasn’t interested in getting a part-time job. The work I did on the business didn’t feel like work, so it didn’t feel difficult at all.”
When asked if he had any advice for people wanting to make money during quarantine he told us that it was important find a gap in the market, stay relevant and be as professional as possible. “I had to research the best equipment to buy and teach myself how to take professional quality photos from my bedroom, along with learning how to use editing software.
“I am always trying to think of new ways to make my business unique and exciting to differentiate myself. Think from a customer’s perspective – What do my products look like? Are they affordable prices? What do customers look for?
“I’d say it would be a lot harder setting up something similar to BCAPS now as everyone is doing it. When I started, I could have probably picked out a couple of other Depop accounts who I’d class as my competition, whereas now there are a lot more people selling jewellery. People also clock on to what you’re doing and try to copy you, which is why it’s important to keep the business moving forward and not become complacent.” You can find Ben’s Depop shop here.
Emily – Emilykellyart
Emily is a 21-year-old who has been doing her own commissioned artwork since her second year at Royal Holloway University. She has found a way to effectively turn her hobby into money, working on her art most days during lockdown.
According to her, it’s as simple as giving yourself any opportunity to get something of value in return your craft, whether that’s money or experience: “I once did a painting in exchange for a plane ticket. I joined a non-profit female organisation and did design work to them to broaden my portfolio. I also made t-shirts and sold them to friends and family through social media. I didn’t earn enough for it to be my only job but it certainly helped.
“I have to say sometimes I find that coming up with a price for your work can be difficult, especially if you are close with the person. However, you have to be realistic with the amount of time and effort that goes into your work. If your friend or family member really supports you then they shouldn’t expect ‘mates rates’. Your work should be worth it.”
The current climate is a really good opportunity to be able to start making money by having the time to improve your service, with Emily telling us: “I have more time to actually spend time developing my style and work and therefore I am receiving more commission requests. I have had time to set up an online shop which is taking the next step.” Take a look at some of her work on her Instagram here.
Josh – KCYK
Josh established his clothing brand KCYK during a deferral of his uni course, drawing up all of the designs himself and selling them on hoodies and T-shirts: “I’ve always been into making stuff but originally it started out with skateboards, tables etc. I was about 13 when I first got into Photoshop, producing kind of silly images, playing around with the program. My first T-shirt was just a photo of one of my friends struggling to swim in a pool, that was when I was 16 I think.
“Uni was actually a really good place to keep it going. I had access to all the workshops including the textiles room with the sewing/embroidery machines and screen printing section so I could experiment a lot more. Must have spent a solid month on the embroidery machine once I was allowed to use it on my own. Now is definitely the time to learn new skills or improve on your existing ones so that when things go slightly back to normal, you’re one step ahead.”
Josh stresses that it’s important to get into your own workflow and ensure that the majority of people like your designs before you produce them: “Mostly I draw a few designs, pick the one I like the most and do a few variations. I use my friends, Instagram and Reddit (r/sws) to see which is the most popular before having that one made.
“I make enough money for it to be worth my time – I’m in it for the fun of making and seeing people wear my designs more than anything. I try to keep the prices reasonable to just get my stuff out there, small businesses have slow starts so hopefully I’ll keep growing.”