I met her at the La Guardia airport, a pretty bella with locks and a broad, inviting smile. The seat beside hers was the only empty space in the waiting lounge. She had a rambunctious five-year-old with her, and we exchanged pleasantries as we waited for our flight to start boarding. We chit chatted about life in Miami as she playfully disciplined her kid. “You can take him home with you if you like,” she declared. “I’ll give you his little suitcase and everything.” “Wow, this lady is so friendly!” I thought. I don’t even recall how the conversation steered towards beauty or fragrance or candles… but all of sudden she asked me — “have you ever heard of Partylite?” Why no, I hadn’t. My new friend pulled out a catalog from her purse right then and there and started introducing me to the direct selling candle emporium that she hosts home parties for. She told me how much she loves candles, loves what she does, and how perfect of a fit Partylite was for her. I browsed through the catalog — I am obsessed with reed diffusers nowadays, so we talked about those for a while while she raved over every product in the catalog. All the while, I was smiling on the inside and thinking to myself — I love a side hustler. Also, I just might have to buy me one of those reed diffusers.

A side hustle is whatever job you do in addition to your 9 to 5 gig, to help you make ends meet, stack your paper, or just find a lucrative release from the drudgery of your day-to-day biz. Some ladies are creative enough to make products at home, and they can sell their items online (or through Etsy or Ebay). If you aren’t a crafty-enough chick to produce sell-able products, maybe you’re considering the vast world of direct sales. You know, the bellas who come to your house and throw product parties?

According to the Direct Selling Women’s Alliance, more than 73% of direct sellers world-wide are women. And the options for direct sales have moved far beyond Tupperware and Amway. Even the old stand-bys have reinvented their images — Avon now has surprising celebrity endorsers, like Jennifer Hudson, Salma Hayek, and Reese Witherspoon.

Mary Kay apparently has been a celebrity hit backstage at the Emmys, and has gotten into the mineral trend in a big way. Both product lines are continually coming out with new items to keep their brand fresh and relevant. I’ve never personally sold products from either Avon or Mary Kay, but I have known many women who do, and it seems that it can be a lucrative business if you’ve got real sales ability. I’ve even reviewed products by two newer beauty direct sales companies — Urban Botanic (click here for my review), and Warm Spirit (click here for that one).

The thing about the traditional direct home sales companies is, you’re typically expected to recruit your friends into the biz. For bellas who are looking for a different approach to direct sales, there’s a new beauty biz on the block — L’Bel Paris. I originally discovered them when I wrote about them, for my Miami New Times beauty blog, Pretty in the City.

L’Bel’s in-house beauty expert John Krites was quick to explain that L’Bel isn’t a multilevel sales operation. No recruiting, no expanding sales teams. They offer between 25% and 50% commission on sales, there are no minimum quotas. And I’m pleased to report that their products work and work well. Last week my car air conditioning died — bellas, in Miami that is NO JOKE. Turns out my compressor was leaking. Don’t even get me started on that bill. Anyhoo, L’Bel’s Matt and Controle oily skin care regime came to the rescue. The lotion toner and moisturizer kept me as oil-free as possible, given the sweltering and unbearable circumstances. For right now I think they’re focusing their direct sales on the Miami market, but check out their website for direct sales possibilities.

Maybe beauty isn’t your direct sales bag. For braver bellas, there’s Passion Parties, which come straight to your home, with a suitcase of adult toys.Maybe you’re health conscious, or into weight loss techniques. If so, perhaps Herbalife is right for you.

If none of the aforementioned companies float your boat, browse the list at InternetBasedMoms.com. There are so many different companies, and so many sound kind of cool and worth checking out. There’s something for everyone. For example — what’s I Celebrate Diversity about? Or does Wonderful LLC sound intriguing? How’s about Tatouage Designs? There’s all kinds of stuff out there in the direct sales market.

If you can’t find a direct sales company that appeals to you, you might want to consider Zlio.com, a cool new e-commerce site where you can set up your own online store, for free, and stock it with more than three million products from 135 big brand merchants. We’re talking everything from Apple to Zappos. And the best part is, Zlio takes care of the shipping, handling, and billing — ideally, all you need to do is sort out your store, sit back, and collect cash.

I actually created my own online store, Boutique de Afrobella, but I’ll be real with you — I had visions of creating an awesome natural hair/plus size clothing sales portal… and it isn’t going so well. I think Zlio offers more in terms of electronics and home items, rather than the things I want to sell. But I’m gonna keep working at it, and I’ll let you all know if this thing starts working for me.

If you’re looking for motivation and advice on making your side hustle more lucrative, check out Simone Kelly Brown’s online radio show, Own Your Power. She gives practical advice on how to make your side hustle your real hustle, and her input is far more experienced and knowledgeable than anything I can offer here.

Do you have a side hustle? Is it working out for you? Let me know what you’re working on, bella — maybe your financial solution could be the answer another bella’s been looking for!

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Cynthia says:
May 27, 2008, 10:21 am
This post is exactly what I need! I currently do casino parties as one of my side hustles. I deal blackjack and craps--it's fun when there is a lot of parties to do. Right now it's going through a slower period. It's fun, though. I am thinking of picking something else up because I need to supplement the income ASAP--especially with gas prices on the rise! This gave me some other things to think about, I'm not sure if direct sales is my thing but I'll snoop around to see what all else is out there!
Lisa says:
May 27, 2008, 10:30 am
I know you'll love the reed diffusers from Partylite. They last a very long time depending on how strong you want the scent. A lot of women in my area are into selling Partylite, and it seems to be working quite well for them. I actually need a side hustle but I'm not really about direct sales. I'm gong to search for a customer service or admin job that I can do from home.
BK says:
May 27, 2008, 11:10 am
My side hustle is as a fitness professional. I am a jazzercise instructor and about to take my exam to complete my credentials as a personal trainer! I did the MK sales.. but it didn't work for me.. BUT the products I loved!!! I now support one of my dear friends who came in as a consultant under me and has now elevated in the ranks!
J. Diva says:
May 27, 2008, 12:22 pm
Ok, I've been thinking about doing a side hustle for a while, but I needed something related to my skills. The Zlio.com store sounds awesome, since I'm a graphics diva...I love making banners. Plus I work in sales. Ok, enough of that, thanks for the bug in the ear!
Mrs.Mckinzie says:
May 27, 2008, 12:41 pm
Thanks for this post Bella,because a sister can sure use a good side hustle right now.My husband and I are trying to buy a house so we both could use a side hustle.
Soul Cookbook says:
May 27, 2008, 12:50 pm
I'm expecting my second child in about six weeks and can't WAIT to go on maternity leave. I already have a two year old and working full time is just not happening for me anymore. My husband and I have been trying to figure out a way in which I can be home at least part time but still retain most of the money I make currently. We're trying to save for a house so having NO income really isn't an option right now. I have a food blog for black families that I recently started an am working on an internet based cooking show featuing black cooks across America (if anyone is interested, email me @ soulcook at gmail. com!). But anyway, side hustles are practically a necessity these days. My money basically covers child care, health insurance, car insurance and food. My husband handles the rent, car payment, student loans, credit cards, etc. I need some extra change to get my hair done and buy some clothes, LOL.
MissMikelah says:
May 27, 2008, 1:00 pm
Love this write up. I agree with SoulCookbook, a side hustle is needed now a days, especially with gas prices and everything else going up, except your base pay! I do freelance writing, upkeep my blog, score keep hockey games, and publicity events. I juggle a few on top of the 9-5 because sometimes one or the other is inconsistent. I'm hoping to do journalism full time in the long run, but for now, keeping my side hustles is the way to go!
edessedesigns says:
May 27, 2008, 1:10 pm
Wow Bella: I love this post! I totally agree with the above posters who agree that side hustles are the way to go! I have a side hustle. I make furniture and paper goods and sell at local craft shows as well as online in my etsy shop: edessedesigns.etsy.com. I don't make a killing but it allows me to treat myself every now and then. I'm totally hoping that it will grow into something bigger! If anything, side hustles are therapeutic.
edessedesigns says:
May 27, 2008, 1:23 pm
Also, there are some regular Afrobella readers who have some amazing and inspiring side hustles, that I suggest you all check out if you have not already: Anita Grant (anitagrant.com): who actually advertises on bella's site. She is very encouraging and offers up great advice. I really love what she is doing. Tina S. from Laid Back Home (laidbackhome.com): She is doing her THANG! You should check out her website. She offers great advice and tons of encouragement. She's on the verge of doing some great things. Rifferaff (rifferaff.etsy.com and rifferaff.typepad.com) she makes the most beautiful hand screened wrapping paper, cards, journals, and such! She even blogs about her day to day comings and goings surrounding her business. Very nice and very talented. I'm just listing these sources because they served as such a great inspiration to me.
Shazza says:
May 27, 2008, 1:46 pm
I remember on another blog, some women were laughing at Jennifer Hudson, saying Avon was a step down for an Academy Award winning actress! I said leave her alone, Avon has always been big! Derek Jeter is in there too!
DH says:
May 27, 2008, 2:30 pm
I need to find a good, lucrative side hustle. I am interested in a lot of different things, but I am not sure which one to focus on.
StAr says:
May 27, 2008, 2:43 pm
Hey Bella.......... I know I have not commented in a min, but I always drop by....smile. I don't have a side hustle, but w/the way things are going I need one...
ceecee says:
May 27, 2008, 3:39 pm
Wow seems like a lot of people have side hustles or are thinking of one. Mine is www.one3snapshot.com we sell tee-shirts, artwork and one-of-a-kind hand painted apparel and handmade bags (I need to update the inventory to include the last two) Shout out to all the side-hustlers!
Vivrant Thang says:
May 27, 2008, 4:19 pm
LOVE. THIS. POST. I've talked about side hustles over at my spot a few time, specifically in a post called "Love What You Do...And Do What You Love" (DJ Jazzy Jeff f/Eric Roberson, Raheem Devaughn and V). Anywho, a side hustle should definitely be something you're passionate about. I've known since I was a kid that I'm here to write and so I'm working on actually making some money at it! I had a pretty nice side hustle last year doing small scale web design/maintenance for nonprofits/churches. But that's not where my passion is at. So I'm hanging in there. It's definitely a part of year one of the five year plan to get that off the grand because uh, the 9-5 is not going to cut it with Uncle Sam taking a MAJOR bite out of my ass-ets like he does. LOL! I salute all the Bellas out there hustlin' hustlin.' It's so inspiring. I hope some Bellawear is in the works. TRUST me, it would sell like hot cakes. I can picture myself rocking a cute baby tee with the Bella logo on it. HOT. NESS. *nudges Bella* :)
HeavenLeiBlu says:
May 27, 2008, 5:23 pm
edessedesigns: A woman after mt heart! I've recently become an etsy addict as a buyer, and now I've been considering becoming a seller, in order to justify my habit of buying there and making all these earrings, LOL. Love your shop, lady. @ Bella, what a timely and helpful post. Can you see the gears turning in my head? Thanks!
2bnatural says:
May 27, 2008, 6:54 pm
My side hustle is at a group home for non-speaking autistic adults. I work 12 hour shifts (7am-7pm Sat & Sun) every other weekend. My husband is home with the kids so we don't have to worry about paying for childcare. Group homes are pretty good hustles because they need employees 24 hours a day since the residents live there. There are a variety of shifts: full-time, part-time, casual, sub etc. So you can definitely work it around your real job. This might not be for everyone but it is another alternative.
edessedesigns says:
May 27, 2008, 7:07 pm
Heaven: Thank you for your kind words. By all means DO IT! You have nothing to loose and EVERYTHING to gain. I can even make you some business cards!
AmiJane says:
May 27, 2008, 7:21 pm
Great Post Bella Bee! Side Hustles... MMhh,MMMhhh,MMhh... So many options, but where do you turn? I have had a myriad of Ideas, and a side hustle is definitely needed. I enjoy cooking and I am a personal trainer. I have tried everything from online surveys to ordering one of those 39.95 programs about how to sell things on ebay. I agree, side hustles should be theraputic, so, in my case I'm choosing freelance writing about my areas of interest. My primary interest is about personal training, weight loss, and the pros and cons about alternative ways to loose weight,etc. We'll see how it goes...
Bebroma says:
May 27, 2008, 10:39 pm
2bnatural -- what do you do at the group home? CNA-like work, or monitoring, or what?
homeinkabul says:
May 27, 2008, 10:53 pm
I don't have the reed diffuser but bought the PartyLite candles as gifts and also took the tealights abroad with me. I love them! I promise, I don't work for the company. They're sooooo nice.
che says:
May 27, 2008, 11:19 pm
side hustle ?!?! i barely have time to myself after doing my main hustle. :-x but seriously, from doing a reg. 45-50hr work week; i'd pay someone to give me more free time to goof off and sleep. i used to once think the more money i make the happier, but thats sooo wrong. so side hustles nope. however....if i can find a hustle with lots of flextime that can pay my mortgage and leave me with a decent meal a day, i'd quit this decent paying engineering career in a heartbeat!!! personal time is worth so much more.
Deborah says:
May 28, 2008, 7:23 am
My side hustle? Simply put: I get paid from other peoples electric and gas bills, a product we all purchase each month, regardless. I am with Ignite, a direct sales company. You can learn more at www.RichSister.com. -free info, no sign in. Because of energy deregulation, consumers now have a choice in their energy provider. And typically, with Ignite, the prices are lower. Ignite markets it's services through word of mouth marketing. In other words, we the associates get paid for signing people up AND we get paid on the electric and gas bills of our customers, too. RESIDUAL INCOME! I've been involved in other mlm companies (because I love this industry) but this is the first time I a)help people save money on their bills- our service is cheaper, and b)market a product that people pay for every month already!! I love it!! Additionally, I get to help others create more residual income and more freedom. Women do very well in this industry. I spend about 2 hours a day talking to friends,relatives and my new associates to help with their questions. I am so proud of you ladies and your side hustles! Thanks for this post Afrobella!
2bnatural says:
May 28, 2008, 8:52 am
bebroma - I'm a hab tech. My clients work all week so on the weekend I supervise their leisure activities. We take them out to eat on Sat, bowling, swimming, skating etc. My meals and participation in the activities are paid for by the company. We also help them maintain their home with cleaning and cooking activities. The job is not difficult and there are other positions available but this worked best for my schedule. Just make sure you find a population that you are comfortable working with.
Aja Nicole says:
May 28, 2008, 1:40 pm
A great place for a side hustle is People Scout.com they hire people to pre screen interviewees over the phone. You make your own hours and while it is over the phone it is not selling or heavy customer service.
breezy says:
May 28, 2008, 3:27 pm
Another side hustle that has worked for me is Silpada Designs jewelry. I loved the jewelry so much that I decided to start selling it and it has been going quite well. People love the jewelry, the parties are fun and you don't have to recruit to make money. (you can but there is no pressure) I love it! check out my site www.mysilpada.com/bronda.reed
auragirl70 says:
May 28, 2008, 3:37 pm
Side hustle???? I need a REGULAR 9-5 hustle! Just graduated from college, and I'm still WITHOUT job! :( Any job hunting advice for this jobless bella would be MOST appreciated! My major was political science and I'm looking do do something in government relations...I'm willing to move basically anywhere! *sigh*
La Veda Bruce says:
May 28, 2008, 5:09 pm
Very timely post. I have friends being laid off left and right. Those that don't already have a side hustle are certainly looking for one now. I quit my insurance career four years ago to stay home with my kids, started selling Avon and ended up going to esthetics school. I now have a home spa I work out of and freelance at other spas around Chicago. I blog about beauty, politics and business at www.advancebyveda.com and host parties at my home on occasion for myself and friends to 'show and tell' our many talents. Side hustles should be enjoyable, and worth sharing. Any kind of hustle; however, is just that... a hustle. There's no such thing as easy or quick money...so stay away from those kinds of promises 'cause they usually end up costing ya. Love all you bellas. Ya'll are great!
funfelt says:
May 28, 2008, 7:43 pm
Wow great post, I am in direct sales and sell a children's product (click on my name) for anyone into education. What I wanted to post about though is there is a wonderful lady who spoke at the Direct Selling Women's Alliance convention in April about diversity and they are opening a diversity center on their site to welcome more women of color into the profession becuase apparently there aren't that many! She has started a blog just for you at http://www.mlmblackwoman.com I am not a woman of color but I love her blog and her insights so I subscribe. Check it out and best of luck to you! Karen Clark
Berry says:
May 29, 2008, 1:42 am
Informative post. I've tried side hustlin' in the past and you must truly be a hustla to make it work 4 u.
sungoddess says:
May 29, 2008, 7:54 am
I am a single mother (and I mean totally solo), so in the last couple of years (since my youth put in his appearance) I have had to perfect my side hustle(s). T'was ok to faff a bit, because I was on my own, but Big Mami have cupboard and fridge to keep populated now. I am a web developer, and have been one for about 13 years. For a long time I couldn't make good money doing it here in Barbados/Trinidad. I ended up having to fall back on my journalism to make a living more than once (to my chagrin). When I went to live in England, and after the contract with the big multi-national telecomm dried up, my side hustle (building web sites) kept soul and body together until I fell pregnant and returned to the Third World. Since then, I've managed to make that side hustle into full time hustle. It only took ten years, three attempts, and a whole heap of focussed, concentrated prayer. I have a steady contract building web sites that handles the diapers, wipes and milk, but I have to keep hustling work on the side to keep it all flowing. I take work online, like blog skins and other websites, and that keeps the youth in clothes, because I work eBay. It means I hardly sleep, but I have purpose and focus now. So now that I have turned my former side hustle into a full time hustle, I'm now looking for fresh new side hustle, and have been looking into the direct sales industry for ideas. So yet again, I see myself in your posts. (Been doing that a lot lately!) I created a web site to sell customised baby gifts, but I'm thinking I want to expand what I do to include the other crafty stuff I make, and such (yeah, I'm one of those sisters eyeing Etsy and eBay) because here in Barbados, eCommerce is slow to take off. I working it though... working it fireal.
AmiJane says:
May 29, 2008, 11:42 am
Sungoddess!!!! Hey Sungoddess! Can you give me your email address, I possibly have a proposition for you. I have a blog template that I want to get tweeked and you may be able to help.:) You can email me at amijane1@yahoo.com. I look foward to a response!
Veronica says:
May 29, 2008, 1:11 pm
I love side hustles (and side hustlers!). Mine comes more from needing to be creative than needing to make ends meet. I'm a hip-hop dance instructor in what I call my "secret double life." At first I was doing just a few hours a week, but now, I've got my hands full! My studio has upped my two regular classes to three (possibly four), and I've had the fortune of being the choreographer for a kids' competition team these past few weeks. (Go Gold!) On top of that, the studio is now looking to create a year-round hip-hop youth company, and I've been tapped to lead the troops. I'm thinking now might be the time to buy a day planner. Lol. I swear, all I set out to do was find a way to keep dancing once I graduated from college and my college team. Now I can't keep my schedule straight! But you know... I wouldn't have it any other way. The best thing about side hustles -- they let us enjoy our most basic passions. :-)
ceecee says:
May 29, 2008, 3:12 pm
auragirl70 try www.aftercollege.com goodluck!
Sharonda says:
May 30, 2008, 5:07 pm
Great Article, network marketing definately works if you work it. And there are so many great companies coming up all the time. My side hustle happens to be with a lifestyle company called Soul Purpose. It was founded by Nadine Thompson formerly of Warm Spirit.
sungoddess says:
June 1, 2008, 6:25 am
Hey AmiJane... sent you an email. Look out for it and feel free to buzz.... and thanks afrobella for your spot.
FatandFabChic says:
June 2, 2008, 12:47 pm
This article was right on time for me. I have been trying to think of ideas for a side hustle(s) for some time now. It's expensive living the DC area so I'm always trying to come up with ways to make it easier to make my ends meet. I am really passionate about beauty so some of the ideas for side sales businesses sound great. I am also trying to turn my blog(http://fatandfab.blogspot.com) into a medium that can generate some money for me. Right now it's a work in progress. My target audience is plus size women so I like the idea of building an online store but I have to keep searching for places that include plus size clothing items...sigh. But there is a lot of great info in this post that I will definately be using.
Chanelle, Indigofera Beauty Expert says:
June 5, 2008, 11:48 am
Greetings, My passion for being my own boss began early. I started side hustlin when I was a teenager. I had babysitting clients. I made took a jewerly class and sold my creations. I put an ad in the paper and taught one on one sewing classes in my bedroom. One time I hosted a shopping trip to outlet stores in New Jersey! This was all before graduating high school. By the time I graduated from college and worked as an RN for a few years. I need a way to express my creativity. So I started Indigofera "treasures for body, mind and soul" At craft show, flea markets and spoken word nights I sold my handcrafted body care, soy candles, gemstone jewelry and eclectic gifts. Over the years my company has grown and acquired clients all across the country. During my journey, I began to incorporate natural hair and skin services to my clients and fused it with my plant based product line. In 2006 I opened my own studio in Philadelphia. Today, I teach others how to follow there heart and pursue their passion. My book "Seven Gems for Entrepreneurial Success" is full of practical principles for aspiring entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are a special type of people, I really do believe God made us different. Be Radiantly Beautiful, Chanelle Washington, Indigofera Beauty Expert
P-L says:
June 8, 2008, 8:38 pm
I agree with che I barely have time for myself with a 5 and 10 yr old. I used to work 40+ and have a side hustle of catering small events, pre children. I hope to get back into on a more consistent (you know if the $ is right I will take cater and event) basis when my children are older and open my bed and breakfast. Right now am I am going to start learning how to make soaps so I can have signature items for the B&B. I currently work as a job coach and make my own schedule so I can have more Mommy time. So it is all about whatever gig your doing working for your life. My husband took on more hours at his job because you know with a flexible schedule I also took a cut in pay from my previous job as an HR Director. Love the sight.
my says:
June 11, 2008, 12:33 am
What use to be a side hustle became a full time gig. And as someone said before it was because of my need to be creative. You can check me out here: http://springcartdesigns.com http://springcartdesigns.etsy.com http://thahotness.com
Aja says:
July 13, 2008, 1:37 am
As a 20 yr old full time student, who works part-time,and pays rent...I NEEDED a side hustle. my side job is selling a "cleansing" herbal tea called "Dr. Miller's Holy tea." The herbs used in the tea are Holy Thistle, Persimmon leaves, Malva leaves, Marshmallow leaves, and Blessed Thistle. I was introduced to the tea by my mother's (who is now retired) supervisor. I tried the tea out after having a 2 week struggle with constipation, and needless to say...I was totally relieved. I decided to sell the tea after receiving the blessing from my moms ex-supervisor to sell the tea in her place.So if you are having digestion or regularity issues..please take the time out to visit my website @ http://www.holyteaclub.com/divinetea87 thanks!
Coco says:
September 25, 2008, 1:14 pm
First of all, great website. I was googling Black women who sell partylite because i wanted to start selling partylite with people whom would understand my selling base and it has been almost impossible to find. I live in Los Angeles and they sent me to a rep way in the inland empire! I really love the product, i love the idea of having my own business that i can manage at my own pace while i work full time and attend college. i just dont want to have to drive and hour just to receive support. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated :) Dionne aka CoCotreasure
Lisa says:
January 8, 2009, 7:24 pm
Awesome post that made me get a little chuckle or two in. Partylite is awesome and thanks for making an interesting spin to it. I agree with Dionne, being my own boss and creating my own hours is what attracted me. Keep up the good work!
Kimberly Johnson says:
January 24, 2009, 2:12 pm
I a so excited to share that Nadine Thompson former Co-founder of WARM SPIRIT empowered men and women of color for 10 years by creating products to promote self-care, wellness and beauty as well as giving them an opportunity to own their own business by selling the natured based products. She is now doing it again and has launched her OWN COMPANY called SOUL PURPOSE! She has created an innovative product line with four distinct categories: Body, Beauty, Style, and Spirit. Visit my website & shop on-line.
Zita Schoenberger says:
September 7, 2010, 2:29 pm
Power deregulation ought to be compelled onto each state. It is a no brainer, we offer the supply facet of your electric bill. This lowers your value whereas your present utility company nonetheless supplies the same service. You continue to get one invoice it just saves you money.
alison sam says:
January 2, 2011, 4:33 pm
My side hustle turned into a full time gig in London as Fragrance Engineer for creating creating oils and scents for the home!


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