What It's About
A Canadian man earns passive beer money selling matching t-shirt and onsie sets to new parents.
Words of Wisdom
To minimize risk and volatility, Matt is extremely cautious about expanding his inventory and never purchases any equipment until he is sure he can offer something new. Most of his sales have followed Pareto’s Principle—where 80% of his sales comes only from 20% of his listings. No matter how tempting it is to keep expanding, Matt knows he has to be focused.
Almost no one would accept Matt’s order for custom t-shirt prints. The one printer who did was extremely surprised when Matt came back for a second order—and then another. Turns out there’s a market for all sorts of design.
Notes from Chris
Born in Toronto, 32-year-old Matt Williams has always enjoyed Canadian action sports. As a child, Matt spent a great deal of time playing video games and drawing. As he grew older, he eventually developed a love for skateboarding, preferring it to other team sports that the boys in high school traditionally favored. Today, his day job involves managing a Canadian action sports publication, where he gets to cover skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing to his heart’s content. It’s truly a high school dream come true. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Matt realized that money was a problem at the end of high school. No one was going to pay for college, so Matt had to quickly find a way to come up with a significant sum of cash. His first side hustle idea was to sell his own skateboard-inspired t-shirts, which combined a subject he was interested in with a skill that he had developed as a child. These shirts sold out quickly to his friends and family, which prompted Matt to head back to his supplier for a second order. He did a few more print runs, then eventually abandoned his side hustle to focus on other opportunities in college. But Matt’s itch for creating never went away. Even though Matt enjoyed his job, he would spend his weekends and free time designing things. He would learn techniques such as silk screening and challenge himself to design accessories. Matt’s friends continued to purchase his wares, so he eventually decided to set up an Etsy shop as an easy way to facilitate payments and track his revenue. Things quickly got bigger than Matt had expected. Orders trickled in at the start, and Matt would usually average a sale or two a week. He would check his Etsy shop, which he calls "Mattmade," each day after work without fail. This went on for awhile until Matt realized that he could do a lot more than just passively collect payments for the occasional order. Matt now averages over $1,000 a month from his Etsy shop, but spends only 2 nights a week on his side hustle. His friends have urged him to go all in on his side hustle, but Matt prefers this arrangement. At this pace, he gets to enjoy his work and experiment with his designs knowing that he isn’t dependent on his shop for his income. Moving forward, Matt intends to explore different lines of apparel and use some of these proceeds to support causes that he feels strongly for. As he puts it, “I just want to continue creating things that people enjoy, with little to no pressure and in my spare time.” He’s not just making products, but also wants to make his own schedule as well.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Mattmade: Interested in a GOT themed t-shirt and onsie for you and your little one? Matt has what you're looking for over on his Etsy page
- Forbes | Pareto Principle: Interested in Pareto's Principle? Here's a neat little article about it and how you can use it to dramatically grow your business
- The Snuggle Is Real: Architect Moonlights by Selling Designer Onesies: An architect creates minimalist onesies and t-shirts for his own kids—then turns it into a profitable side hustle
- Shopify Employee Sells Enough Apparel to Buy a French Bulldog: She only needs to make $3,000. But when she turns to a side hustle to fill the French Bulldog shaped hole in her life, she ends up making six-figures
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