Students Discover Creative Ways to Make Money

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Media by Amy Willsey

Junior Jess Willsey works to fill an order for a customer of her baking business J Dubs Sweets. “I have had the thought of opening my own bake shop when I grow up for a few year now,” Willsey said. “I always prioritize my orders over some of my fun personal things.” Willsey’s business has grown largely since she started it in April, and she has made a sizable profit.

Junior Jess Willsey’s dream is to open her own bakery in Chicago, but for now she’s opening her own bakery out of her kitchen in Ballwin.

Willsey used her free time during the stay-at-home order last March to launch J Dubs Sweets. Having made the logo for her business in a Graphic Design class prior to the Alternate Learning Plan, she was able to start with a brand and has grown her business since then. 

“All of my friends and family have been super supportive and think it’s so cool that I’m already starting to achieve my dream,” Willsey said. “My friends always make me laugh because they always say ‘remember me when your bakery gets famous’.”

The amount of orders she receives differs from week to week, so the amount of revenue varies as well, though she has made over $3,000 since April.  

In addition to running this business, Willsey also started working at Crumbl Cookies in Des Peres. 

“I make more money consistently with my actual job, but I like being able to know my customers and make personal connections and get all the feedback directly,” Willsey said.

Willsey communicates with customers via text, email, Instagram DM and Facebook DM.

Gooey butter cookies and sugar cookies have been most popular recently because they look good and taste good and the sugar cookies can be decorated to your liking, Willsey said. 

Cupcakes also have become a popular treat among her customers and she even receives the occasional cake order. As for delivery, customers can either pick up or meet her halfway or Willsey can drop off orders; however, there is a fee depending on the distance. 

Many students pick up jobs to bring in extra money for themselves or their household, and some, like Willsey, venture outside the traditional job market to do so.

Sarah Henderson, junior, was inspired by tutorials on Pinterest and Tik Tok on how to make glass album covers. 

“I wanted to make one for my friend’s birthday, and it was pretty simple so I thought, ‘Why not sell them?’” Henderson said. 

Sarah Henderson, senior, creates and sells custom made glass album covers. Though previously $8, Henderson now charges $12 per album cover because the demand and time to make them have both increased. The glass comes from dollar store frames, and instructions are shared with customers about how to hang the plaque on the wall as well as hooks. (Media by Sarah Henderson)

Henderson first prints a screenshot of the requested song and puts it under the glass before tracing it with a white paint pen and glueing the picture requested to be the album cover.

Though previously $8, Henderson now charges $12 per album cover because the demand and time to make them have both increased. The glass comes from dollar store frames, and instructions are shared with customers about how to hang the plaque on the wall as well as hooks.

She communicates with her customers via Instagram Direct Message and has delivered most packages herself to peoples’ doorsteps. 

The plaques can be customized for friends or family with their favorite artists and songs. The process is time efficient for Henderson, and she gives herself about a week to make each plaque unless directly requested otherwise.

Though she considers the profit she makes from these plaques relatively good money, this serves as a “side hustle” for Henderson who has another job working as a party princess for Enchanted Events singing and interacting with kids at their parties as Disney characters.

“I do not keep track of the money I’m making from this because I see it as a very temporary thing,” Henderson said. “I don’t see myself selling outside of my friends and people who follow me on social media.”

Chloe Inman, junior, also works as a party princess and goes beyond just birthday parties. She also participates at meet and greets as well as charity events. Inman, who participates in theater and show choir, enjoys the way she has been able to incorporate her passions into her work.

Chloe Inman and the other party princesses of Enchanted Events pose for a group photo. (Media by Chloe Inman)

“I wanted to find a fun way to be acting but still have a job,” Inman said. “I am always acting and singing at this job, and that is something I really enjoy.”

Due to COVID-19, fewer parties and meet and greets have occurred, and because most parties occured outdoors, winter is more difficult. However, Zoom meetings of the characters are offered in place of in-person interaction.

Inman has an Instagram account where she posts pictures from the events she attends as well as herself in full costume and make-up for the character she is portraying. 

“I love getting to see how happy it makes the kids with smiles on their faces,” Inman said. “Especially when we do charity events for kids that are sick with cancer. I love brightening up their day.”