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This story originally appeared on Business Insider
Shereen Campbell graduated from NYU with a degree in journalism. While in school, she tried to do everything right, like landing great internships year round and working part-time. But when she finished school, she couldn’t find a job in her industry and resorted to taking gigs here and there, until she landed a career as an assistant buyer for a major retailer.
Campbell stayed on the same career track for seven years but wasn’t feeling fulfilled and began searching for purpose in her life. During that time, she studied the mystical arts, astrology, and healing practices. It was then that she realized she wanted to start a business that would allow her to channel her passion and knowledge.
“I got really interested in the big life questions, like, what are we doing here? What’s our purpose?” Campbell said.
Although she didn’t have much income to spare for start-up costs, Campbell knew she had a tax refund coming in worth $3,400. She normally spent that extra cash on vacations, shoes or clothes. But this time, she wanted to use it to change her life.
That small decision led her to create My Little Magic Shop, an online shop for magical tools including crystals, herbs, and oils, at the age of 30. Six years later, her side business now generates $12,000 a month in revenue.
Here’s how she flipped a few thousand dollars into a revenue-generating side-hustle.
She divided up how she’d spend her tax refund
Campbell went online and started researching what she’d need to start her business. She mapped out what products and services would be essential for the first month, such as web hosting, and then looked for the best rates. This helped her stay within her budget.
When it came to her website, she found an affordable, user-friendly platform that would allow her to build and host it for $46 a month — no coding skills necessary. She then picked a hosting company that would host her domain name for $12 a month.
For merchandise, Campbell started out small and simple, focusing only on seven products that were key for her brand. She was able to purchase her first month’s supply of things such as candles, herbs, and oils for under $1,800. Labels and boxes cost her an additional $1,535.
Anything she didn’t know, she asked friends instead of hiring expert help. She used a spreadsheet to keep track of all expenses and remain within her tax refund amount.
Campbell then had the supplies shipped to her home, where she was able to put kits together on evenings and weekends. Since it was her passion, she considered it a fun hobby.
She had zero branding costs
With a tight budget, Campbell needed to get resourceful. She had a coworker who was also a friend and web designer who helped her create a logo for her brand.
She then found suppliers who didn’t charge additional fees for adding her logo to the packaging.
For boxes, she went to Alibaba. She found a seller who was flexible with pricing, and explained to them that she was just starting out and couldn’t afford to purchase large amounts at a discounted rate. Instead, she promised to be a long-term customer if her business was successful. The supplier was supportive and slightly reduced her final cost. For labels, she used Onlinelabels.com.
She kept her day job
Campbell remained at her job so that any revenue from her side hustle could be put back into growing her business. The first year, she stuck to selling the seven initial products on her website. In the second year, she added a subscription-based service where she’d send out a monthly package called “A Little Zen Box” that was filled with products on a theme.
Roughly 50% to 70% of her revenue is now generated from her subscription-based service. This makes preparing for the following month easier because she has a pretty good idea of how much inventory she’ll need to purchase in advance.
Campbell plans to leave her day job and focus on her own business full-time once she has saved $60,000 for a safety cushion and her business is generating $20,000 a month.
“I know it’s not a financial thing, but when I get to work on my business, it makes me so happy. I get to interact with people I probably would have never been able to interact with. I get to be creative in terms of the projects that I get to work on,” Campbell told Insider. “It also gives me something to really dream about for the future. I get to think about how amazing it’s going to be somehwere down the line when I get to work on this full-time.”
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