The spirit of entrepreneurship and running a small business has always been strong in my family. My father is a self-employed musician after running a deli, my grandfather owned a pharmacy, and others in my family have had their own restaurants and shops in the past as well.
I’ve kept the tradition going in my own little way by running a small business of my creation, Ian Curtis is Hungry. It’s a nonsensical name, but what started out as simply me making silly images for my blog has turned into a profitable online retail shop, and a social media account that has over 60k followers across various platforms (see our Instagram here).
Creating Viral Memes
On a day-to-day basis, I make and share memes for these accounts, but I offset this by selling merchandise in my shop. This consists mostly of enamel pins, t-shirts, tote bags, and buttons all inspired by my favorite post-punk musicians of the 1980’s.
Enamel pins especially have been very popular in recent years, and I seem to have started making them myself at the perfect time. My plan is to eventually expand the business further, and I’m starting a push to get some of my products into shops which fit the image of the brand.
Recently the department store Selfridge’s has reached out to me, but I’m also interested in working with smaller more independent shops as well.
Ian Curtis Is Hungry
Ian Curtis is Hungry has become a lucrative opportunity for me, and it has also helped to pay for part of my college tuition. When I eventually become the first person in my family to graduate from college, I can at least partially thank my business. But what makes me happiest is the amazing community built of fans and friends that has grown around the company.
I routinely get letters from followers who live in smaller, rural towns who thank me for making them feel like they belong to an inclusive online community which accepts them for who they are without passing judgment. As someone who didn’t have many friends myself in high school, I can empathize with what they’re going through, and it makes me proud to know I’ve helped them, even in a small way.
Donating To Charity
My business has also been successful enough that I’ve been able to make donations to various charities with every run of pins I sell, and in the past these charities have included RAINN, Planned Parenthood, and small local animal shelters and sanctuaries.
But there is always room for growth, and in the future I want to explore even more proactive philanthropic avenues with my company. I’ve considered booking concerts with my friends’ bands under the sponsorship of Ian Curtis is Hungry with the proceeds supporting these charities, and my aim in the next year is to find direct ways to affect positive change in the community with the little bit of success I’ve achieved.
Ultimately, writing is my true passion, and I would love to find a way to include more of this in my company; whether it be writing zines or small publications under the Ian Curtis is Hungry banner, or using the site’s popularity to get a job writing for another site.
However, I’m also content with running the online shop until my writing can support itself separately. Growing up, my father told me that it’s best to pursue multiple interests at once, because as the success of one pursuit declines another is already waiting in the wings.
Ian Curtis is Hungry doesn’t come close to paying my college tuition (I’m attending Ocean County College now, but will be transferring full-time to SUNY New Paltz in the fall), which is the reason why I’m applying for this scholarship, but it is something I get immense self-satisfaction doing, knowing that I’m doing something on my own terms which I actually enjoy doing.
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Check out the other finalists here: 2018 Side Hustlin' Student Scholarship Results Page.