8 min 44 sec

Carpenter Pays His Mortgage Selling Embroidered Travel Patches

Tired of look-alike flag patches, this carpenter and frequent traveler creates his own designs based on a modern style with a nod toward 1920s luxury travel.
International Manufacturing Product Retail Travel

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What It's About

Colorful travel patches lead to a successful niche side hustle for a Canadian carpenter.

Business Model
Skills Required
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

As Mike said to us, "Don't be afraid to reach out to others! If you're in a smaller niche market, some people might be hesitant to give away their suppliers and ideas, but a lot of people are just happy to have new people on board. You're likely to find someone who will give you a recommendation for a production partner, their best marketing tips, or even share their biggest blunders. So jump in and send some emails asking for suggestions!"

Fun Fact

Mike says his stomach makes a lot of his travel plans for him, and by far the happiest it’s ever been was in Oaxaca, Mexico—a beautiful, smallish city surrounded by great produce growing seasons, it’s the home of both mole sauce and mezcal.

Notes from Chris

Episode 398

Today’s story comes from Mike Lecky in Montreal, Quebec. By day, he’s a carpenter. His side hustle is Vagabond Heart, a company making vintage-inspired travel patches for people to sew on their luggage.

When Mike was younger, he worked as a graphic designer and book editor. As a carpenter, he missed some of the fun aspects of a desk job where he could sit down in clean clothes and work on a computer. He didn’t want to leave his job, but he wanted the best of both worlds. So he started his project so he could get his hands dirty during the day and work on the computer in the evenings… sort of the opposite of people who have desk jobs and do woodworking as a hobby.

Mike likes to travel, and he packs light when he goes on his trips. That means he doesn’t bring a lot home with him. He also collects patches for his backpack, like so many other travelers do, but he was always disappointed with how they looked—bland country flags or other patches that look like they came from a cheap souvenir shop. He wanted something that had a bit more style—patches that had a hip, modern look but with an unmistakable nod to the 1920s-1930s era of luxury travel. Not only was Mike unable to find anything like that while traveling, he couldn’t even find it online when he got home. So he decided to make some himself! It was then that Vagabond Heart Co. came to fruition.

Once he had his patches ready, he decided to sell them on both Shopify and Etsy. Etsy sells cute, hip, and handmade items and Mike found that he got a lot of traffic through organic searches. After he put his store up, it fell to the back of his mind, so when he got that first ding on his phone from Etsy, he was surprised. The patches sell for $7, about the price of a pint of beer, so when he made his first sale, he went out after work and promptly celebrated the profits away.

Mike only made $75 his first month and $150 his second month, but then he started marketing his patches using Etsy Promoted Listings, which is easy to turn on with the click of a button. It lets you pay to have a listing show up as an ad—you can set a specific price per click you think is reasonable, or let Etsy pick the price, and you can monitor the progress of listings in their marketing page. By the fourth or fifth month, Mike was making $1000 a month in sales from Etsy alone. He now makes over $1,000 every month. His side hustle pays his mortgage!


  • Vagabond Heart Co.: Wear your journies with pride—pick up some travel patches on Mike's website or Etsy page
  • Shopify: Mike used Shopify to set up his store for Vagabond Heart Co., and they're offering a 21-day trial and exclusive discount for all Side Hustle School listeners!

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

Yours in the revolution,


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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!

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Social media is nice, but building an email list is still the single best way to get customers and clients for your hustle. It's not hard to get started—sign up for a 30-day trial and join the list-building challenge! You’ll be up and running in no time.

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Quote of the Day
"The best part about customer orders is trying to imagine the trips they've been on. Someone will order a Vancouver patch, a San Francisco one, and a Los Angeles one, and you can almost see them driving down the #1 highway along the West Coast."
—Mike Leckey #SideHustleSchool

Sponsors & Gratitude

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Visit LegalZoom.com today to get special savings on services to help you launch your side hustle—add "HUSTLE" in the promo box at checkout.

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau