Teachers show off their creative summer side hustles

Courtesy Max Bawarksi(NEW YORK) — This can be your summer to lean into your side hustle.

A side hustle can be something that fuels your passion, fills up your bank account or, ideally, does both.

Teachers are especially known for having side hustles. Across the United States, 18 percent of public school teachers earn income outside the classroom, according to a National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report released in June.

While teachers have the summer to lean into their side hustles, many hustle all year long.

And not all teachers are doing the side hustles that first come to mind, like tutoring.

Here are four teachers from across the country who have turned their passions into unique side hustles and, in one case, into a new career.

2 teachers make Pinterest dreams come true

Katie Garcia and Garrett Sheskey are best friends with a combined nearly 15 years of teaching between them.

They opened their side hustle — Pin-It LIVE, a first-of-its-kind do-it-yourself studio and bar where people can complete Pinterest projects — by following the advice they give to their students.

“This is us doing what we tell our students every day to do, which is to follow their passions,” said Sheskey, a middle school reading and writing teacher.

The teachers spent around six months developing the idea and creating a business plan together while still working full-time.

“I feel my confidence has built up with creating this business,” Garcia said. “Absolutely it’s a passion. We don’t look at it as a job quite yet because it’s new and exciting.”

Garcia and Sheskey both plan to continue teaching as they grow Pin-It LIVE. Nearly two years into the business, they said they are now starting to recoup some of their investment and hope to franchise the business in other cities.

“We’re both teachers through and through and this is just a new classroom for us,” Sheskey said. “We’re continuously growing and learning to balance both passions, our classrooms and the studio.”

A ceramics side hustle turns into a new career

Naomi Singer, a mother of three, spent 15 years teaching art to high school students in a New York City suburb.

She decided to pursue her passion for pottery by taking a course and going to open studio hours. Within a few years, she opened her own Etsy shop, Modern Mud, and was working on her side hustle nonstop.

“Once I started selling, it became my whole day and night,” she said. “I was teaching five hours a day and doing ceramics the other 15 [hours] I was awake.”

Singer quit teaching in 2016 and runs her own business, including a studio where she still teaches art classes, out of her home. Her work has appeared on the shelves of retailers across the country and even on the holiday displays at Macy’s.

“I’m probably making close to twice as much in this business as I was teaching,” she said. “But I’m also working double or triple the hours now than I was when I was teaching.”

“It’s the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing you think about when you go to sleep,” Singer said of being self-employed.

Singer’s advice to other budding entrepreneurs is to establish yourself before making the leap.

“Get your side hustle and make it successful before you quit your day job,” she said. “I am so grateful and lucky that I fell into something that really works for me, but at the beginning, I couldn’t have quit my job.”

Physical education teacher by day, gourmet food truck owner at night

Catch Max Bawarski during the day and he’s a beloved physical education teacher at a Fairfax, Virginia, elementary school.

In the evening and on weekends, Bawarski, 35, owns and operates two beloved food trucks, called Two Smooth Dudes for the pineapple smoothies they are famous for, in addition to gourmet tater tots.

Bawarski’s first side hustle was starting a running company that operated local road races. When he saw the lines for the food trucks at the finish lines and the joy the trucks brought people, he found a new passion.

“People love this and it’s really making me happy too,” he said of his food truck business.

Bawarski’s side hustles came out of a need to supplement his teacher’s salary. He said he has been an entrepreneur his whole life but has no plans to give up his first love of teaching.

“Sports and fitness and health are my passion and I love working with kids,” he said. “There really isn’t a better job.”

Upcycling furniture into a 2nd business

There are no lazy days of summer for Kayla Becker, a special education teacher who works nonstop on her furniture design business when she’s off from school.

Becker, of Olathe, Kansas, started her furniture business around three years ago when she spent a summer refurbishing furniture she inherited from her grandparents’ house.

She rented space in a local store to sell her finished products. She now makes enough money from her side hustle to help pay for her three kids’ college educations.

“I’m pretty proud of what it’s turned into,” Becker said. “I’m still surprised at it, to have my own business. It makes me feel more confident and makes me want to continue doing it, for sure.”

Becker spends much of her summer scouring flea markets, estate sales and auctions for furniture.

During the school year, she spends two to three hours each evening in her garage studio transforming discarded pieces of furniture into works of art.

“I try to be as creative as I can and make things one-of-a-kind,” Becker said. “It’s a creative outlet for me, a meditation after my long days at work.”

Becker is also eyeing growing the furniture business she’s built into her future full-time income.

“I am 47 and retirement is something I think about,” she said. “[The furniture business] is something I can do for much longer.”

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