What are your hobbies?
It’s a question you might hear on a first date or a job interview. It’s a question you might even ask yourself from time to time, because our hobbies can reveal so much about who we are. Whether you collect bottle caps or make kites out of newspapers, finding a fulfilling hobby can enrich your life by leading to business opportunities, new friends, and supportive communities.
If you’ve been itching for a new hobby, the following stories might spark some ideas. These four creatives have turned their hobbies into profitable businesses, and understand more than most how to find and capitalize on a hobby that fits your unique life.
Danielle, Owner of Growies, an Online Shop Selling Handcrafted Planters
I’ve always loved crafting. Even as a kid, I would be gluing googly eyes to pom poms and trying to sell them to my classmates. I’m still pretty into making art out of construction paper, and sometimes will add handcrafted cards into my planter orders for fun.
I’ve had a few house plants over the years, but during quarantine our house turned into a jungle. We spent a lot of time renovating and redecorating our house during the spring and I didn’t want to leave all my house plants in nursery pots, so I started buying planters and cache pots, but they were so expensive that I just decided to start making my own. As soon as I did, I posted on a local plant Facebook group and they sold out almost immediately.
Why I Love It
One of the things I love most about Growies is having met so many great people involved in the plant community. I’ve had a lot of fun interacting with other artists and makers, and it feels like everyone that I have met has been supportive at every turn. Even my partner, Nick, has been helping me by staying on top of how much money I’ve put in versus how much I’ve sold.
Finding a Hobby
To find a good hobby, I think you just need to be willing to try new things and take it day by day. I couldn’t have imagined a year ago that I would eventually quit my job to make and sell planters full time, but here I am!
Do be aware that some hobbies require actual safety measures, and that might not be your thing. For example, when I started making planters, I wasn’t that careful with the epoxy, and ruined so many things in my house because I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be able to just wipe it off once it dried. I also would have been wearing PPE from the start, as mica powders and epoxy resin can be pretty toxic. It’s a weird material to decide to start working with during a respiratory pandemic.
I had basically sworn off Facebook before this year, but I’ve found that the Facebook groups have been really helpful. You can ask questions in them and get responses in real time. They can also be great places for inspiration. Some of these groups are pretty standard: your epoxy resin groups or your local plant groups. But they can also be hyper specific. For example, I’m in a group for people that have Etsy accounts and also like true crime.
Marissa, Owner of Stitch Clinic, Offering Practical Lessons in Knitting & Sewing
My mom is a retired art teacher, and growing up we dabbled in beading, weaving, macrame, friendship bracelets, scroll saw puzzles, dipped candle making, and so much more. And my dabbling didn’t stop when I left home. Now I have a studio of my own with supplies for all kinds of arts and crafts. I can’t tell you how many times my children have decided to make their teacher a last minute gift, and we pull it off because I have such a wide selection of things to use.
Knitting & Sewing
My mom was always making things with me, and encouraged me to sew things that we had seen elsewhere so we didn’t have to buy them. The knitting was something to keep my hands busy. I picked them both back up in college when I finally had some free time.
Knitting and sewing can be both practical and beautiful. And since practicality and creativity are extremely important to me, I really value these types of projects. Plus, knitting and sewing can take up as much or as little space as you want, and I want to respect the space I share with my family.
Why I Love It
Hobbies are a great way to escape the daily grind or stressful moments. I find knitting particularly helpful, as it is very rhythmic, and depending on the difficulty of the project, it can either be a way to calm the mind or challenge it. It’s a very fulfilling distraction, and for those of us lucky enough to turn our hobby into a business, that’s really the ultimate goal, right? Love what you do, do what you love.
Furthermore, if you get good at a hobby, you might find opportunities to teach that hobby, which is amazing for one’s self-esteem. I loved teaching in-person classes at the local library. It was something that my students and I looked forward to after a long week of housekeeping, work, kids, and cooking. We even became friends and socialized outside of the class. They were people I could talk to about knitting and they’d understand me!
Finding a Hobby
If you find yourself doodling in the margins or looking for some way to express your love of colors, you likely have the curiosity and spark needed to find a new hobby. If you aren’t sure what hobby to take up, get out and try things. Watch videos, take mini courses. Seeing someone actually do their hobby can help you figure out if you want to try it yourself.
Once you find something you might be interested in, ask yourself how much time, expense, and energy are you willing to put into something that might not work out or be enjoyable. Am I physically capable of doing this? Do I have the time and the money? Am I even interested in the finished product, or do I just like the process (or vice versa)? If none of these things stand in your way, go for it.
If you need help with your hobby, try finding a friend who knows at least the basics and either ask them for help, or if they can recommend you any resources. Good old Facebook groups are also a great way to start, as is Googling the hobby and finding out if there are any guilds or groups dedicated specifically to it.
There are also so many free and reasonably priced resources online. If I’m just curious about how something is done, I’ll look up random videos. If I want to learn something in earnest, I will search out a good course or other paid resource. I find that the paid resources lay it all out in a concise way that will help me save time and money in the end.
Yusuf, Co-Owner of Galen Leather, an Online Leather Goods Company
Before Galen Leather, I played football and some other sports, though I don’t have much time for it these days. I’m also an avid collector of vintage stationery and fountain pens, and I’m passionate about photography, which has proved extremely valuable for my business (I take all the product photos).
Leather making came about during a time of transition for me and my late sister, Zeynep. We were already selling leather goods online through our Etsy store, but we wanted to start creating our own designs. The producer we were working with at the time couldn’t meet our needs, so we took up the craft ourselves.
Learning to make the things we were selling gave us true flexibility and control. We could finally create the exact designs we wanted and experiment with custom projects. For example, I was able to combine my love of stationary with our vision for leather making, and created our very own signature leather journal!
Looking back, leather making really instilled a sense of purpose in us, and garnered us respect in the community. We’d never experienced that with other hobbies.
Why I Love It
One of the greatest joys of having a hobby is being part of a passionate community of artisans and sharing the love with people who genuinely appreciate your craftsmanship. Our customers are the best people in the world and it is always such a pleasure to hear and see them enjoying our products.
The creative freedom this sort of hobby allows for also really helps balance out the left side of the brain that’s engaged in the business side of things. Creativity is something we all have, it’s just a matter of whether or not we choose to engage and nurture it.
Finding a Hobby
If you keep trying new things, you will eventually stumble upon something you love and want to dive deeper into. However, there is something to be said for trying a new thing, but something entirely different for mastering it. A new hobby will be a work in progress, and you may never truly become a master, but that’s the fun of hobbies! It’s just a hobby. You don’t have to necessarily make anything of it, start a business around it, or sell your goods or services. A hobby is something to take pleasure in. It’s meant to be enjoyed. If it leads to something else, then great. But sometimes people find that kind of pressure can kill the enjoyment of their hobby.
YouTube is a never-ending goldmine for hobbyists sharing their passions. Then there are great Facebook communities, forums, and even local meet-up groups you can join. We’re active members in a lot of online communities, and have even created our own social community around what we do.
For us, we learned a lot from some of the best in the field, such as Ian Atkinson, and watched many leather making tutorials. We certainly made our fair share of mistakes in the early days and pushed ourselves hard. But naturally, the more you practice something, the better you get.
Charie Williams, Owner of Uncommon Redesigns, a Furniture Redesign & Restoration Company
My history with hobbies is an eclectic one. I am one of those people that believe they can do anything, and for the most part it’s true. I would bounce from hobby to hobby, mainly because I’m a very active person that enjoys an array of things. The hobbies that didn’t stick were the ones that required a lot of money. I was a single mom for a long time, so I didn’t have the extra income.
Like many of my other hobbies, I got into furniture flipping from a place of need. I wanted a beautiful nursery for my son, but couldn’t afford the furniture, so I settled for hand-me-down furniture and tried flipping them. They came out beautifully, so I posted photos of the nursery on my social media accounts and on Pinterest. I received a lot of compliments, and a few people asked if I could do some work for them. Others suggested I start a side gig or a business flipping furniture.
Starting a business seemed so far-fetched at the time, but I gave myself a challenge. If I could find some free furniture and flip it within a week, I would start a business. I went out and found a free busted dresser (it literally had a bandaid on it!) and used some leftover paint from a previous project. The color was an “uncommon” shade of green, and I just shook my head wondering who would buy a puke green dresser!? Well, someone did buy it, and Uncommon Redesigns was born!
Why I Love It
I feel the greatest benefit of exploring a hobby is the mental side of it. Learning something new and finding out you are good at it can not only entertain you, but help with stress management. Exploring a hobby can also be a financial boost that you may need. It was for me and has forever changed my life. This hobby actually allowed me to quit my day job. No other hobbies were able to do that for me.
Finding a Hobby
Think about different types of hobbies and see if one fits your current situation. For instance, if you pick fixing up classic cars, you would need to be aware that it’s an expensive and time consuming hobby. Also, think about what needs to happen when you complete a project. Are you going to keep it for your collection, give it as a gift, or sell it to gain a profit? Knowing these things will help you choose the right hobby for your life.
And don’t wait! If nothing else, you can at least start learning about your hobby today.
YouTube is a great start. Also, try looking for free groups on Facebook. Both of those were very helpful to me. As a matter of fact, I started my own Furniture Flippers 2.0 Facebook group, where a community of flippers are happy to help. These groups love to show how knowledgeable they are, so they’re a great resource.
Mistakes can also teach you a lot. I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, like under pricing my furniture and my labor, but honestly, I wouldn’t change anything. Those mistakes made me a better furniture redesigner and helped me understand what new flippers go through. Because of this, I created the first and only furniture flipping price calculator app, so other furniture redesigners don’t make this mistake. If you think furniture flipping might be the hobby for you, check it out.
Looking For a Hobby
Have a hobby idea you want to explore? Join the thousands of people who are finding their inspiration (and motivation) with a tutor on Wyzant.