933
9 min 34 sec

Star Wars Fan Forges Lightsaber Empire

An appliance repairman channels the Force and learns to make, sell, and repair lightsabers. Never tell him the odds!
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What It's About

In a galaxy not so far away, a repairman fights the Empire equipping fans with battle-ready tools.

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Lightsaber Building & Design
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

If Justin had to do something differently, he would have been smarter with his capital. He said he had more of a "hobby-mind" than a "business-mind" and made purchases that weren't strategic. He’s now contemplating whether or not to leave Etsy because of the fees.

As far as advice, he says to pay attention to what other people want because if they want it, it means that someone is not offering it. "Enter that negative space and make a profit."

Fun Fact

The original lightsabers were made from 1930's-era Graflex camera flash handle, and the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum in Hollywood purchased the saber hilt (handle) for a whopping $450,000 in 2017.

Notes from Chris

Episode 933
If you were a fan of Star Wars as a kid, you may have owned a toy lightsaber to duel with friends or annoy your siblings. Back then, they were just telescoping plastic tubes. But now, grown-up Star Wars fans can have grown-up lightsabers thanks to a small community of "sabersmiths" that are making lightsaber dreams come true.

Collectors spend hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars to buy unique sword handle designs, changing color blades, gyroscopic sensors, programmable audio, and more. And thanks to Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012, we’ve entered a new era of explosive Star Wars enthusiasm.

Justin Marshall started his Star Wars collection long ago in a galaxy far away when he got hand-me-down toys from his cousins. He always gravitated to lightsabers. Then, as an adult, Justin began to build custom lightsabers for friends. He started while he was working fulltime as an appliance service technician in the San Francisco Bay Area. These bespoke projects were time-consuming. He invested in many tools for his workshop, including machining equipment, a powder coater, and 3D printer to make custom parts.

The lightsaber market is an active community—easy to find and market to, but very competitive. Justin got more traction when a critical website in that community, the FX Saber Forum, made him an approved seller. This success gave him exposure and credibility with the cosplay fans and collectors that frequent it. The force was with him!

There are many things that Justin enjoys about running SaberBay. He likes being able to call his own shots. While employed as a technician, he wanted to provide customers with a high level of service. But someone else's decision sometimes kept that from happening.

He feels fortunate that he was able to turn his hobby into a business, and he likes helping people do something that they enjoy. Also, he is never bored as there is always something new, bigger, and better to bring to the market. Much to learn, he still has.

If he had to do something differently, he would have been smarter with his capital. He said he had more of a "hobby-mind" than a "business-mind" and made purchases that weren't strategic. He’s now contemplating whether or not to leave Etsy because of the fees.

As far as advice, he says to pay attention to what other people want because if they want it, it means that someone is not offering it. "Enter that negative space and make a profit."

Congratulations to Justin on taking his side hustle to the next level. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. “Now, Witness The Power Of This Fully Operational Battle Station.”

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • SaberBay: No traps here—learn more about this epic side hustle over on Justin's website, and check out his Etsy page while you're at it!
  • FX-Sabers.com: The Star Wars community that helped Justin gain some momentum for SaberBay

SEE ALSO:

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

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"Pay attention to what other people want because if they want it and aren't getting it, odds are there's a side hustle opportunity in that market. Enter that negative space, make a profit, and enjoy yourself!​"
—Justin Marshall #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau