Now that it’s summer, everyone is either working internships, traveling around, or relaxing to use their time during the holidays! I remember three years ago when COVID-19 first came to light, and we underwent circuit breaker around summer break as well. This was when we really saw a surge in side-hustles, small businesses and people taking up new hobbies to fill their free time. However, just because the world is back to normal, this does not mean we stop taking up new things and fall back into the same old pattern of work, study, sleep. Moreover, I think it is common knowledge that the current generation has a hustler mindset due to their passions motivating them.
Enriching yourself and Cultivating New Hobbies:
I feel that everyone will agree that each business first started with an interest in something. For example, the makeup brand — Anastasia Beverly Hills, was founded because the founder was a well-known makeup artist who specialised in making up eyebrows which caused her to start her brand. Or, for a brand closer to home — Charles & Keith, where two brothers had an interest in managing a shoe business after working at their parent’s shoe store, and now it is a well-known global brand.
The same goes with any small business you see around in Singapore or even online on apps like Instagram! Many of these people had an interest in something and found a way to practice their craft and monetize it simultaneously.
Some popular choices are art commissions, home bakeries, crocheting, and even writing poetry! For these, you would need to hone your craft, and luckily, the holidays are the perfect time to do so since we are not buried in schoolwork.
Perhaps, you have always been interested in drawing or baking, but never really had the chance to learn. You can buy some baking supplies and take an hour or two every night looking at YouTube tutorials on drawing something simple, like an eye, and master it before branching out into other subjects and mediums. For other hobbies like candle-making, crocheting, and knitting, supplies are available on platforms like Shopee, Lazada and even physical stores like Daiso. For these, I’d recommend the same thing, which is watching some YouTube tutorials, and taking some time from your day to maybe make something small or one part of a bigger project.
For baking, this might be more difficult as it takes up more time, so if baking once a week proves to be tedious, you could start baking once or twice a month. There are a lot of recipes online for you to try out, my favourite website being ‘Allrecipes.’ However, some of the recipes may serve up to 10 people or more. If that is too much, you could always adjust the recipes to make smaller batches (or if you are brave enough, you can give them out to your friends, family, and coworkers to try!). Also, baking, in my opinion, is a mixture of chemistry, math, and trial-and-error. After a few batches, you learn that most recipes generally follow around the same base with some adjustments here and there. Once you’re brave enough to try making your own recipe, you learn that a lot of calculation is needed so that the ingredients can work together and bake something tasty! However, it will not be easy for most and some trial-and-error is needed!
Creating a Portfolio:
As important as it is to cultivate your newfound hobbies, and improve your skills, I believe it is also important to create a portfolio. You could create your own website, a folder on Google Drive, or even create a social media page to post your work onto. It doesn’t have to be public, especially if it’s something new; we might be apprehensive to share our work with such a big audience. Especially since the Internet has proved to be ruthless sometimes. However, I believe that the creative space is generally quite supportive, and many people will provide tips and tricks to improve or hype you up even when you think what you have made wasn’t that good!
Moreover, it’s good to have an archive of all your past and current work so that you can look back and see how much you have improved. For example, I love writing, but I don’t have an Instagram page dedicated to my work as I tend to write longer prose, and Instagram is better suited for shorter prose and poetry. However, I do have a Google Docs file filled with all my writing from 2019 until now, and I usually update it whenever I get inspiration for something new! Moreover, I have a personal (yet dormant) blog on Wix, where I would post some of the things I have written, to build an online portfolio that is easy to share. Not only that, but it is also good as it allows me to gain some exposure for my writing. After all, the best part of the Internet is also one of the worst — everyone can see anything posted online.
That may seem daunting, as it provides you with more criticism. Have I been criticized for my writing before? Of course. Was I upset? Definitely. However, I used these criticisms as motivation to improve. Sure, there were moments when my motivation was filled with spite, but regardless, it gave me the drive to continue practicing so that I could show not only to these ‘haters,’ but also myself that I was good. Being insecure about your own work is honestly a part of creating something, especially when just starting out. However, with more practice, you can develop your style and become more confident in your work. It’s the same as an artist posting a drawing they made when they were 10 years old versus one they made when they were 33. With consistent practice, they improved their skill, and created something unique to their own stylistic choices and niche.
Another side-hustle you could take up, especially if you have a lot of clothes to clear, is participating in Flea Markets! Two popular choices are ‘The Hammock Market,’ and ‘The Luggage Market.’ During a specific day, a bunch of people will set up shop at Aperia Mall and sell their clothes at the Flea Market. I know there are more flea markets out there, especially since the concept is becoming more popular in Singapore, but I have only been to ‘The Hammock Market,’ and noticed that not only did a lot of people turn up, but they had designated spots for small businesses outside of the main bulk of people that signed up for individual booths!
A friend of mine, Chanel (@chjnel on TikTok), had a booth for The Hammock Market a few weeks ago, and as someone with a lot of clothes, I asked her what it was like to have booth since I was interested in signing up to share one with my friend, Gem, soon! She told me that it was a good spot if you have many clothes you want to clear. I think she told me she had around three suitcases of clothes that she wanted to clear, and because there were so many people at the flea market, she was able to clear a lot. Moreover, if you didn’t manage to clear your booth’s items by the end of the day, you can choose to donate your clothes to the organization!
I feel that flea markets are a good way to clear some old clothes, promote sustainable fashion, and promote your own work. Like I said, some of these flea markets can provide booths for small businesses! So, if you already have garnered quite a following online with your own small business, whether it’s selling poetry/art commissions, crocheted items, etc. you can gain more brand exposure and expand your audience!
I feel like this is a given, since we all start out having part-time jobs before transitioning into internships. For example, when someone thinks of working a part-time job, they probably think of working at an F&B outlet or a retail shop, but there are so many part-time jobs available outside of the retail and food industries!
For example, you could branch out to another popular choice — tutoring. Many friends interested in teaching ended up taking part-time jobs at tuition centres or sourced out their own tutees and operate independently. For those working independently, a good platform to use would be SmileTutor, as it can help freelance tutors source out tutees near their area. Moreover, you choose to teach based on your specialties! I have friends that teach primary school science, and others that teach people how to play musical instruments! I believe that for those interested in teaching, it can really help improve both your familiarity with the current syllabus, but also your communication skills since it teaches you how to communicate with students.
Another choice would be working part-time around campus during the semester! For example, I get emails from time to time about an opening to work part-time as a student assistant or part-time helping at the library or call centre! Outside of this, I know of a friend who also works at NTU’s call centre part-time, so there are a variety of options that provide a more flexible schedule for students!
These are just some suggestions of mine on cultivating new hobbies which can eventually become side-hustles! I know there’s this stereotype in Singapore of having a linear studying transitioning to a career path, which is why I want to promote cultivating new hobbies! Furthermore, I believe that earning income from a side-hustle can be beneficial as it not only improves your skills for your own gain, but it also helps you maintain this sense of passion for your hobby as you have an extra motivator.
Lastly, life is unpredictable, and there are many stories of people who turned their side-hustles into their own businesses and succeeded. You never know, you might be next!