Millions of people have side hustles, which are jobs on the side that they earn money from. In fact, a survey conducted by Zapier found that two-thirds of adults have a side hustle and a third of them got them started in 2020, during the pandemic. Many people would love to be able to quit their job and make a living by growing their side hustle into a big business, which is exactly what the founders of Beeja May did. The online secondhand store went from side hustle to having a team of 10 employees in a Toronto-based office.
“Our dream has come true in being able to grow our side hustle into a lucrative business,” explains Christine Trinh, co-owner of Toronto-based Beeja May. “We had a vision and a goal, and we worked hard to make it happen.”
Not only did she and her co-owner husband, Simon Tan, work hard to turn their side hustle into a lucrative company, but they also made sacrifices. They started out selling the secondhand clothing from their basement in 2019. A year later, in the summer of 2020 with the pandemic in full swing, they both quit their lucrative jobs to focus completely on growing Beeja May.
Walking away from a combined income of $400,000 per year to grow a side hustle wasn’t easy, but they believed in what they were doing. They had a vision for a purpose-driven company that facilitates and encourages circular fashion and sustainable shopping. Living off of a modest living, they gave themselves start-up salaries and put the rest into growing their company.
Today, their business has an office in Toronto and a team of 10 employees, who are shipping out 400-500 orders per month around North America. They have no regrets, are excited about the future, and want to inspire others with side hustles to take the leap.
Here are five tips for those with side hustles who want to take it full time:
“If you want to grow your side hustle into a bigger business, you can,” shares Tan. “You have to want it, be willing to do what it takes, and not let fear hold you back from going after it. The only way for it to grow is to take the leap and make it happen.”
The idea for Beeja May came about after Trinh found it difficult, time-consuming, and unfulfilling trying to obtain secondhand clothing during her pregnancy and after the baby was born. Spending time meeting with strangers, sifting through huge lots of clothing, and other issues left her feeling like there should be something better. So she and her husband took to creating it themselves.
Today, Beeja May offers tens of thousands of secondhand clothing items, and the process to shop has been simplified. Shoppers can shop by age (i.e., newborn to 24 months, toddlers, kids, maternity, etc.), by brands (i.e., Gap, Mini Mioche, Zara, Roots, etc.), and more. Plus, the items have all been carefully curated and inspected prior to be being listed, so there’s no unwelcome surprises when someone receives their package in the mail.
Beeja May offers name-brand clothing, organic clothing, and ways that people can save on their orders, including by combining shipping and a robust loyalty program. In addition to children’s clothing, the store offers maternity and nursing wear,books and footwear. Last year, Beeja May launched its Rescues Collection, where it partners with wholesalers and retailers to offer damaged box, overstock and minor defect items at discounted prices, saving them from landfills. It has amazing brands such as Juddlies, Ergopouch, Robeez and more that can be found in its Rescues Section. Beeja May plans to expand its Rescues in 2022. It also has a zero-waste shop, offering a variety of essentials, such as soap, dryer balls, reusable food wraps, pot scrubbers, lotion, shampoo, and more. To get more information about Beeja May or shop its collection, visit the site at: https://www.beejamay.com/.
Prior to founding Beeja May, Trinh worked in the real estate development industry as a development manager. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from York University and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business. Her co-founder, Tan, worked in private equity prior to Beeja May, focusing primarily on the acquisition of industrial and manufacturing businesses. He holds an accounting degree from York University and is a CFA charter holder.