Rags to Riches: Here are Amazing Side Hustle Cinderella Stories We Couldn't Get Over

Rags to Riches: Here are Amazing Side Hustle Cinderella Stories We Couldn't Get Over
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After years of the pandemic and reevaluating what is most important in life, many people across all generations, from millennial to Gen X to Gen Z, have been trying to figure out: do I need a side hustle, and if I have one, can it be my main hustle?

Traditional career paths and what is expected of an average working person has kind of blown up, and been reimagined into figuring out if each person can achieve financial freedom, and start to earn passive income.

Because the most precious commodity isn’t money right? It’s time.

Here are some personal finance stories from 2022 that particularly resonated with our audiences, including a tale about a vending machine side hustle bringing in serious cash, to Etsy dream stories and beyond.

Millennials Bought an Abandoned High School for $100,000 and Turned It Into a 31-Unit Apartment Building — Take a Look Inside

Tyler Norman

When an abandoned high school was listed for sale in Munhall, Pennsylvania, three real estate partners saw an opportunity to completely transform the space.

When an abandoned high school in Munhall, Pennsylvania, was listed for sale in 2019, Jesse Wig saw an opportunity.

The sellers were asking for just $100,000.

The 34-year-old real estate agent bought the school and then reached out to a friend who connected him to Adam Colucci, a 35-year-old real estate investor and owner of an audio-video business.

This 28-Year-Old Built a Side Hustle That Brings in $30,000 a Month: ‘I Only Have to Work 6 Hours a Week’

Photo: Quinn Miller

“I read on Twitter about someone making passive income by placing vending machines in office buildings. It immediately piqued my interest.

So in June and July, I purchased two machines for $5,000 to get a side hustle going. Things were slow at first, but I was hopeful that I could scale the business. I quit my day job that summer to focus all my time and energy into it.”

This 29-Year-Old Spent $15,000 on a Side Hustle Selling Vintage Designer Purses—Now Her Business Makes $55,000 a Week

CNBC Make It

Nica Yusay’s company, FashioNica, makes $55,000 per week selling luxury designer handbags.

Sometimes, Nica Yusay’s online vintage purse store, FashioNica, sells out so quickly that she thinks there’s a glitch on her website.

A lifelong thrifting enthusiast, Yusay developed a talent for finding high-end purses at a fraction of their retail value from a young age. She accumulated her own collection over the years, but never thought she could make money from her skill — until her fiancé suggested she make a business out of it.

‘I Range From About $1,000 to $2,000 a Week’: Mom Is Cleaning Up With This Side Hustle

Christian Sanya works on her side hustle.

Washing clothes might be your least favorite chore, but for Christian Sanya, it’s not a chore anymore. In fact, she washes other people’s clothes and gets paid for it.

“I’m one of the top earners with SudShare and I range from about $1,000 to $2,000 a week,” Sanya said.

Sanya signed up as a “sudster” with SudShare, a person-to-person marketplace for laundry. Think of it like Uber for laundry.

This 57-Year-Old’s Lucrative Side Hustle: Earning $177,000 Renting Out His Backyard Pool to Strangers

Courtesy of Swimply

Jim Battan, pictured with his wife, Lisa Battan, says he “loves the income” from hosting a pool on Swimply, despite its increasing competition.

When Jim Battan spent $110,000 building a luxury pool outside his home in West Linn, Oregon in 2012, he knew he was making an investment.

He couldn’t have known that 10 years later, he’d earn more than enough to pay it off by renting it out to strangers on the internet. Battan says that since September 2020, his pool has hosted roughly 9,000 swimmers through a platform called Swimply, which dubs itself the Airbnb of swimming pools. The result, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It: $177,000 in revenue in less than two years.

This 29-Year-Old Makes $22,000 a Month From Her Art Side Hustle: ‘I Work Less Than 2 Hours a Day on It’

Photo: Domonique Brown

Domonique Brown makes $267,000 a year from her art side hustle, DomoINK. She has collaborated with big companies, including Disney, Target and Samsung.

“At the start of the pandemic, I was putting in 80-hour workweeks for two full-time marketing jobs. I earned a combined salary of $129,000 a year.

“But a part of me felt something was missing. I always had a passion for making art, and I wanted time to pursue it. So in April 2020, I quit one of my jobs to start a side hustle. I wanted to see if I could really make it as an artist.”

This 30-Year-Old Mom Quit Her Job at Amazon. Now She Makes $40,000 a Month in Passive Income: ‘I Work Just 2 Hours a Day’

Photo: Jasmine McCall

Jasmine McCall’s mission is to teach people how to create passive income, pay off debt, and build wealth.

“In 2021, I accepted a job at Amazon as a resource manager for an annual salary of $124,000. I was 29, and it was the most money I’d ever been offered.

I also started two side hustles earlier that year to bring in extra money. My husband Jay and I had just bought our first home, and I was due to have our first child in September 2021.

The first side hustle was a YouTube channel where I shared money and career advice, and the other was a digital guide to help people boost their credit scores, based on my personal experience paying off debt.”

This 33-Year-Old Makes $14,600 a Month in Passive Income: ‘I Work Just One Hour a Day’ on My Online Business

Photo: Ryan Hogue

Ryan Hogue started his print-on-demand side hustle in 2016. Now he makes $14,000 a month in passive income.

“In 2014, I was earning $85,000 a year as a full-time web developer. While I made enough to cover my living expenses, I felt like I was putting too much of my time into the job.

I knew that there were opportunities to make passive income in e-commerce. So in 2016, after experimenting with “dropshipping” (a business model in which sellers don’t need to keep any products in stock), I came across a Reddit post that inspired me to start a print-on-demand side hustle.”

19-Year-Old Who Makes $10,000 a Month From His Video Game Side Hustle: ‘I Never Knew That Writing Could Make Me’ So Much Money

Arash Lahijani

During his senior year of high school, Arash Lahijani realized he could make money through an unusual side hustle: Writing backstories for video game characters. Two months after he started his business on Fiverr, he learned nearly $10,000.

Arash Lahijani was a high school senior when he learned he could make money writing backstories for video game characters.

A friend of his had paid a Fiverr freelancer $70 to do it for a Grand Theft Auto character, he recalls — so he started researching, and realized there was a market. Even better, it was something he could do as a side hustle after school and during weekends.

How This Beauty Brand Founder Turned Her Side Hustle Into a Business Bringing in Millions

Araceli Beauty

Araceli Ledesma, the founder and CEO of Araceli Beauty

Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Ledesma and her family relocated to California for a better life when she was just 5 years old. Even then, she had an immense love for makeup. 

“When I was very young, I got a little sample of lipstick. And I would take the bus home,” Ledesma shares. “I remember I put it on and as soon as I got home, I just threw it out the window because I was scared that I would get in trouble with my mom for wearing lipstick, but I’ve always loved makeup.”

Now, four years after starting her company, has made over $2 million in revenue and amassed a following of over 160,000 people across Araceli Beauty’s social platforms. 

This 45-Year-Old Makes $39,000 a Month From Her Side Hustle — and She Only Works 20 Hours a Week

Nicole Tocci

Nicole Tocci started flipping vintage Chanel buttons into necklaces in 2016. This year, she’s brought in more than $352,000 from the side hustle.

In 2016, Nicole Tocci carefully removed the buttons off her vintage Chanel clothing, spent about three hours polishing them, added a hook and attached them to thin silver and gold chains.

She started selling the pendant necklaces in her Berkeley Heights, New Jersey-based tanning salon, Nikki Tans and at pop-up events. Their popularity eventually convinced her to build a standalone website for her side hustle, called One Vintage Button, at the end of 2020. In the first full year of business, the side hustle brought in $90,000, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.

31-Year-Old Earns Up to $1,000 a Month From Her Swim School Side Hustle Aimed at ‘Smashing’ Stereotypes

CNBC Make It

Paulana Lamonier, founder of Black People Will Swim

In 2019, one tweet sparked the beginnings of Paulana Lamonier’s small business.

When she tweeted that she wanted to teach 30 Black people how to swim in Long Island, New York, the response was overwhelming: She got hundreds of requests for lessons from all over the country. There are still people on the waiting list, she says.

This 59-Year-Old’s Lucrative Side Hustle: Earning $16,000 a Month Selling Recycled Fire Pits on Etsy

Tim Riegel

Tim Riegel, 59, started making fire pits out of propane gas tank ends a year ago. Now, he makes up to $16,000 per month from his side hustle.

With inflation on the rise, Tim Riegel wanted a side project for extra income — so in September 2021, he bought seven $90 propane tank ends off Facebook Marketplace.

The 59-year-old intended to repurpose the tank ends as fire pits — a freestanding, open metal container for fires, typically for backyards or patios — and sell them for $400 each in his hometown of Lamar, Missouri. The fire pits proved popular: They sold out in just 10 days, and Riegel was inundated with requests for more.

This 34-Year-Old Mom’s Etsy Store Brought in Nearly $160,000 in 2021: How She Built Her Side Hustle While Working Full Time

Courtesy Rachel Jimenez

Jimenez and her daughter.

Rachel Jimenez had long dabbled in side hustles by the time she started her Etsy store in 2019. The 34-year-old mother of two had tried dog sitting and babysitting. She’d given courses on building a business and budgeting. She also contributed to various blogs. She did much of this while working full-time, most recently as an administrator in higher education.  

“I think that’s part of my success,” she says. “I was testing different things slowly over time, and then, eventually, all the information and knowledge came together.”

Jimenez sells printables, or downloadable documents people purchase and print on their own. Her store features a range including Christmas scavenger hunts and digital planners.

‘I Made $245,000 in a Month’: This 29-Year-Old Got Rejected From 15 Medical Schools—Now He Runs a $1.5 Million Business

Photo: Charlie Chang

After getting rejected from more than 15 medical schools, 29-year-old Charlie Chang decided to start his own online teaching and content creation business.

In 2014, I was fresh out of college and thought I had my life all planned out: Go to medical school, get a six-figure job as a doctor, and make my parents proud.

None of that worked out. I realized I hated blood and needles, and got rejected from more than 15 medical schools. My parents weren’t so happy.

From 2014 to 2019, I took on tutoring side hustles, did some modeling gigs, started a drop shipping business, and even worked as a real estate agent. But nothing was consistent in earning me a steady income stream.

This 26-Year-Old Med Student Bought a House by Selling Used Clothes: Without the Side Hustle, ‘I Wouldn’t Even Have a Savings Account’

Olivia Hilliard

Medical student Olivia Hillier, 26, says she stocks her Poshmark store with vintage clothing that “brings me joy.”

Olivia Hillier’s side hustle started with a $5 T-shirt she found at a thrift store.

Hillier, a medical student at Rochester, Michigan-based Oakland University, had some experience selling a few of her own old clothing items on resale app Poshmark. She never thought much of it. But during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, she noticed that other Poshmark sellers were profiting from “flipping” trendy thrift store finds.