Not everybody is built for the office or regular daytime schedules. We do what we gotta do, but how many of you have seen the movie “Office Space” or read the 15 best “Office Space” quotes and been like, “I gotta get out of this place”? As we travel further into the millennium, we enter a true entrepreneurial age: moving away from the era of cushy retirement plans and gold watches of our parents and grandparents and into the age of multiple W2s. Many of us seek entrepreneurship, and for some, entrepreneurship is thrust upon them. Several Logan Square and area entrepreneurs have adopted side hustles, too, from making artisanal candles to crafting wooden flags.
Hustling is the New 9 to 5
According to Zapier, “One in 3 Americans — 34% — have a side hustle” and “61.1 million Americans (24%) plan to start a side hustle in 2021.” Even Forbes talks about the benefits of the side hustle, saying, “There is no downside to a side hustle. There are only benefits to building more than one source of income … [but] … A side hustle is more than just another stream of income. It’s also the new job security. When you receive paychecks from different sources, it allows you to take more chances in your regular career. More income means more options. More options equals freedom.”
Some people have a passion that they want to share with the world. Some have dreams of opening their own brick-and-mortar business. Others simply want to supplement their current income, maybe wipe a few debts off their plates. Years ago, I ran an Airbnb for a friend who slept in her car and rented out her apartment, and with the proceeds, we both paid off our credit cards. Woo!
Local and Nearby Entrepreneurs
While so many other businesses and careers were devastated over the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some businesses have sprung up out of necessity, including among entrepreneurs in the Logan area. “After losing my job overnight as a massage therapist because of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, I started making candles in July, and Virtue Alchemy Candle Co. was born,” said Anna Romo, owner of Virtue Alchemy Candle Co. “In August, I connected on social media with Monica Little” – a fellow Bucktown resident and owner of Plant Based Beauty – “and we opened the Chicago Makers Pop Up Shop (2064 N. Damen Ave.), where we feature a rotating group of 30 local business owners.”
Logan Square resident Paul Castle, owner and creator at Amplo_Design_Builds, is a college advisor by trade who started off his side hustle by making his mother a wooden tray for her flower pots. Now, he gets orders for all kinds of beautiful, wood-carved rustic flags and banners (pictured at top). The business has grown since last year, as he’s had more free time during the pandemic. “I feel like it started as just something to pass the time during the quarantine,” Castle said. “But I’ve quickly realized an emerging passion for crafting and creating pieces of art. It gave me a sense of fulfillment I haven’t had in years.”
I’ve also come across many many posts of people selling delicious, Instagram-fabulous dishes out of their homes. But there are a lot of health violations involved with people not working out of an industrial kitchen. I’d hate to expose people who are trying to make any extra buck to fines and sanctions by the Department of Public Health.
Many Facebook groups, understandably, are very strict about posts of that nature for this very reason. But if a group of local independents created a Facebook or Instagram page where they could promote their illicit cuisine, I’d follow it. “Caveat emptor” what you eat.
The hardest part of striking out on your own is not the dreaming, but the doing, especially when you come home tired from a full-time or several part-time jobs. But it’s doable. “Trust your abilities, and take the leap to do it,” said Amanda Forgash, a botanical and clay artist and owner of Amanda Forgash Design, who works with florists all over the city but operates out of Ukrainian Village/Humboldt Park. “It’s certainly scary but incredibly rewarding. Confidence is key.”
Small Business Resources
For those of you looking to expand your side business, help is at hand. There are many options, such as grants, the Kickstarter fundraising platform, and the federal Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program. The program’s website says, “States can pay a SEA allowance, instead of regular unemployment insurance benefits, to help unemployed workers while they are establishing businesses and becoming self-employed.” According to the Indeed Career Guide, SEA “is federally endorsed and provides a special type of unemployment aid to people who are displaced or out of work while starting a new business.”
The Illinois Department of Employment Security has a list of resources for starting a business, like SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), the Illinois Small Business Development Centers, and the Women’s Business Development Center.
Grace Church of Logan Square (3325 W. Wrightwood Ave.) has a new initiative called Seeds, which provides microloans “to persons and projects looking to better the community of Logan Square”.
America’s Seed Fund gives grants, support and guidance to entrepreneurs in the tech sector. The program concentrates on high-risk, high-impact technologies, awarding $200 million in funding annually to entrepreneurs across the country. The current window period to submit your Project Pitch is open through June 3.
I found a hilariously informative YouTube video about small business grants by Rod Squad. He gives out so much info on getting a business started, you kinda have to start one.
Those of you who already have a legitimate business or a kinda-sorta-in-the-works business, consider joining the LoganSquarist Directory. We offer all kinds of opportunities, like listing your events for free or paid ads that will fit your budget.
Inspiration and Motivation
A favorite resource of mine is Mark Manson, author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” (HarperOne, 2016). Those of you who suffer from the various forms of procrastination (myself included) could use the occasional jump-start of encouragement mixed with hard truths, and his (mildly explicit) podcast “Everything Is F*cked : A Book About Hope” does just that.
Also, here are 15 quotes from StartupNation that should motivate you to start a side hustle — because even if you don’t have a side hustle yet, you know you’re thinking about it. Share your side hustle and your events with LoganSquarist on Instagram, and we’ll try our best to share them, because it’s all about community, after all. Best of luck to everyone who’s on their grind, wherever that may be.
If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.– Steve Jobs
Featured photo of Patrick Castle: @erikisland
Photo of botanicals: Amanda Forgash of @petalpushr
Photo of wooden flags: Paul Castle of @amplo_design_builds
Photo of scented candles: Anna Romo of @virtue.alchemy.candle.co