8 min 31 sec

Office Worker Turns $15 Into $500/Month Custom Cup Hustle

A frustrated office worker “throws shade” on her feelings about coming to work each day—then gets paid for her complaints.
Design Manufacturing Print on Demand Product

Subscribe Now For A Free Five Step Tutorial

What It's About

Petty office quips become a galvanizing side hustle for people who want to escape the grind.

Business Model
Skills Required
Resourcefulness & Bootstrapping
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Using Fiverr she found a designer that had a style she liked and then sent them a message asking if they could help her with tea + shade. They said yes, and Stesha put them to work right away. If you’re ever looking to do the same, Stesha recommends that you make sure you’re also purchasing the rights to the image alongside it. Common sense might tell you that when you buy it it’s yours to do what you want with it, but that’s not always the case.

Fun Fact

Stesha also adds a personal touch to each order, by personally sending a packet of tea and a thank you note to everyone who purchases from her. This helps her create a stronger, positive association with the brand that can sometimes be lost through third-party drop-shipping companies.

Notes from Chris

Episode 318

Like all too many people in the nine-to-five grind, Stesha Sims felt that her work wasn’t being appreciated. Her ideas and suggestions were ignored, promotions passed her by, and she was left to fend for herself in the cruel world of office politics. She felt trapped. The job provided her with insurance, healthcare and a stable wage to fund her dream life, but there didn’t appear to be any exit strategy from the awful job on the horizon.

Stesha admits this left her feeling, well, a little petty.

In order to cope with the drudgery of going to the office every day, she came up with a set of quips to help convey her feelings without getting her fired. She’d “throw shade” on her job by telling her friends and coworkers, “I’m only here for the direct deposits” or “I just showed up for the insurance.” She knew that other people felt the same way about their jobs too.

That’s when the idea for a side hustle struck her. What if she could sell something that brought together all of the people who felt stuck in their office jobs, but were using it to fund bigger and more important parts of their lives?

Stesha decided she’d take the “shade” that her friends and colleagues loved, and print it onto the side of cups. They’re something that most office workers are able to bring from home, could be played off as a joke to management, and constantly remind the buyer of the bigger motivation behind their day-to-day efforts. And so, tea + shade was born.

A combination of free trials, free apps, and Fiverr designs meant that the Tea + Shade startup costs were around $15. Which basically means that Stesha only had to sell two mugs to recoup her initial investment and go home with a profit! However, she’s managing to keep the business at a consistent $450 to $500 per month and is seeing a little growth each and every month.

Stesha wants to expand the brand into t-shirts, tote bags, and other highly visual products to let people keep throwing shade in new and creative ways. Lots of people complain about their jobs, Stesha turned her complaints into a money-making project.


  • tea + shade: Throw some shade of your own around the office with some of Stesha's mugs!
  • Shopify: Stesha used Shopify to create her store, and right now, all Side Hustle School listeners can get a free 21-day trial and 10% off for one year
  • Teelaunch: The print on demand platform that Stesha used in conjunction with Shopify to create her mugs
  • MailChimp: The email marketing platform that Stesha used to connect with her client base
  • Fiverr: Where Stesha sourced someone to create the designs for her shady mugs

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

Yours in the revolution,


Download Episodes By Months:

Season 6 (2022): JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |

Season 5 (2021): JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |

Season 4 (2020): JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |

Season 3 (2019): JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |

Season 2 (2018): JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |

Season 1 (2017): JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |



Earn 50,000 travel rewards points (enough for 2 round-trip plane tickets or $625 in travel credit). You'll also earn 2x points on all travel and dining spend, with zero foreign transaction fees.

I use this card every day all over the world! ✈️

Learn More


Create your online store with Shopify using an exclusive discount for Side Hustle School listeners. For a limited time, get a free 21-day trial and a 10% discount for a whole year.

Many Side Hustle School listeners are building sites using Shopify's easy-to-learn platform. Try it free today!

Learn More

Quote of the Day
"You don’t have to launch with a million mugs, but you do have to launch with something that stirs emotions with your base. I have lots of repeats customers because they love the message!! It’s okay to start with one item, you can slowly expand up from there."
—Stesha Sims #SideHustleSchool

Sponsors & Gratitude

Try ShipStation for 60 Days FREE!

Today’s episode of Side Hustle School is brought to you by ShipStation, the #1 choice of online sellers. 📦

To get a 30-day trial AND an additional month free, click the microphone at the top of their page and enter the word HUSTLE.

Get it Here

Like the Show? Leave a Rating!

Side Hustle School is for you! If you’re enjoying it, please take a quick moment to leave a rating or write a quick review. It's really easy and it makes a difference! ✅

It also makes a huge difference when you tell your friends about the show. Remember, it's 100% free and listener-supported.

Here's How

Keep in Touch

There’s a new story every single day on Side Hustle School. Episodes are produced to be short and to the point—I know you’re busy. Be sure you subscribe to get instant notification of the day’s broadcast!

To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau