8 min 27 sec

Bright Idea Leads Chicago Woman to Million-Dollar Hustle

A Chicago-based plastic recycling sales rep overcomes her fears and doubts to transform her love for DIY lamp shades and $10 in supplies into a multi-million dollar business.
A/B Testing Arts & Crafts Etsy High Profit Product

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What It's About

A D.I.Y. hobby using upcycled materials turns into a profitable side hustle.

Business Model
Skills Required
Design & Resourcefulness
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

As she was quickly outgrowing the limited production capacity of her bathroom, Jen decided to raise her prices. And, in a story as old as time, the higher she raised her prices, the more she sold!

While it may seem counter-intuitive, sometimes going with the lower price isn't always the best route for your side hustle. Use A/B testing to help you determine what rate best fits your product or service.

Fun Fact

Jen may have turned her side hustle into her main business, but she still likes to dabble in new side hustles from time to time. Occasionally she'll pick up a few old ones as well!

Having sold all of hers before the market crashed, Jen can’t resist buying rare beanie babies whenever she sees them for sale.

Notes from Chris

Episode 182

Jennifer Brown has been side hustling since she was ten years old, starting with selling beanie babies on eBay to dogsitting for $30 per day. She even tried re-painting abandoned furniture from an alleyway, but it wasn’t until college that she found her stride.

At a college craft show, Jen saw a liquor bottle with lights inside of it and, always looking for a DIY project, Jen decided to make one for herself. Once she’d placed Christmas lights inside a painted liquor bottle, her friends kept asking to buy one from her so, like any good side hustler, she started selling them.

Within one week, Jen had her first sale for $60. She sold a second lamp later in the week for a total of $100 in revenue.

Jen started looking around for other things on Etsy that she could create and recalls that the moment she realized she could turn $10 in supplies into a $300 light fixture, as the moment things really started to take off.

But for years it was only a side hustle as she worked her day job as a sales rep at the recycling company. In fact, it was her day job that made selling on Etsy so easy. Her background in sales, marketing, graphic design and SEO put her leaps and bounds above other home-crafters selling their wares on Etsy at the time.

The Etsy side of Hangout Lighting took three years to grow to $1 million in sales and, between her various online channels, she now brings in about $70,000 per month.

And yet the fears that she felt when she started have never really gone away, only evolved as she’s grown. With larger orders and bigger clients come greater expectations. Every day, she realizes how much she still has to learn.



Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


Download all 2018 episodes from each month: JANUARY | FEBRUARY

Download 2017 archives: JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC



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Quote of the Day
"Make sure you have high enough margins and you can start with nothing. Keep improving as you go along and learn from each sale about what people want and do more of that."
—Jennifer Brown #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau