I’m a high school senior in Tennessee and I’m looking to attend Butler University in the fall as a Ballet major. With Butler being an expensive private school I am looking for additional help to pay for my post-secondary education. My mom recently lost her job of 18 years and my family is struggling to pay our bills and keep up my dance training. So not only am I looking for scholarships, but I have also developed my own side hustle the past couple of years.
Learning How To Sew
I am a classically trained ballet dancer and am looking to make a career out of dancing. The down side is that dance is very expensive. You have the tuition for training, shoes, costumes, leotards, competitions, etc. that all add up quickly.
When I was about 15 or 16 I realized that I loved to sew. I loved the idea that I could make something and then wear it like I had gone to the store and bought it, but a whole lot cheaper. So I started looking into how to make dancewear, specifically skirts which are outrageously expensive for so little material (about $25-35 dollars for one). Unfortunately, you can’t walk into Joanns and pick up a pattern on how to make a ballet skirt, but through some extensive Google searching I found a how-to guide. I picked up some fabric and with my sewing machine that my parents had got me for Christmas the year past, I got to work.
Making My First Skirts
I quickly realized I was in a little over my head. I had never made any clothing before, only small alterations to mine and my parents’ store bought clothes. Needless to say the first try didn’t fit me, but it did fit a girl at my dance studio and thus my first skirt was sold.
Within two weeks I had perfected my own altered version of the how-to guide’s skirt pattern and had made myself 10 skirts to wear in class. I loved that I had the style of skirt I had only dreamed of buying, with the cheapest I had found at $25, and I got tons of compliments on them. I had several girls at my studio ask where I got them, and when I told them I made them, they immediately asked if they could have some made for them. And thus my Etsy shop was born. I sell my skirts for $20, cheaper than I’ve ever seen in a store, and I make them custom sized to the buyer. Everyone that has bought one of my skirts loves them and I love to see dancers use them in class.
Selling on eBay
Along with my ongoing Etsy shop to sell my skirts, I also use eBay as a way to resell things around the house that me and my parents don’t use. My mom used to be a PartyLite consultant and our basement is overrun with candles, holders, and miscellaneous related things. Every month I go through our basement and see what I can sell online that we don’t need. I’ve sold candle holders, banners, Halloween costumes, pointe shoes I never worn, school textbooks, etc.. Not only does it give me some profit but it also helps clean up the house.
I also put my limited sewing skills to use in altering my friends clothes. In the past year I’ve altered prom dresses, hemmed pants, fixed holes and ripped seams, etc. for small costs. Sewing is something that I love to do and it is relaxing to me so altering items seems more like fun than work.
I am hoping to one day figure out my own pattern to make ballet leotards and start to sell them on my Etsy shop as well as get better at making more clothing items to cut down on costs to myself when I need a new wardrobe. I am also hoping after my dancing career is over to work in a costume shop making all the beautiful items I’ve always admired growing up. But until then I’m going to keep up my side hustle!
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Check out the other finalists here: 2018 Side Hustlin’ Student Scholarship Results Page.