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Side Jam Interview #1
Hello and welcome to the very first installment of the Side Jam Interview Series!
The purpose of the Side Jam Interview Series is to highlight unique, interesting, and creative ways to make extra money on the side.
I interview people about side hustles they’ve tried, and find out the real scoop:
- Is it legit or a scam?
- Were you able to make money?
- How much effort was involved?
- Did it require any prior skills?
- Was it ultimately worth the time put into it?
Do you have a Side Jam you’d like to share?
Let me know by filling out THIS FORM, and you could be featured on my blog!
And now down to the good stuff — Here are all of the details on my first Side Jam Interview:
The Homegrown Plant & Worm Farm
Say hello to Cricket — a friend of mine who I just met back in October, at a local Choose FI meetup.
Although I haven’t known her for very long, I can already tell she is going places. Seriously, she has so many great and innovative ideas, I don’t know if this girl ever takes a break!
Cricket is the mother of one super-cute kiddo, who also has the creative gene running through her. She takes after her mama in so many impressive ways, as they are both successful entrepreneurs at heart.
Cricket is currently a work-from-home mom who has several real estate investments as well as multiple side hustles. When she mentioned the various side gigs she’s tried — mainly just for fun or to educate her daughter about money — I was really excited to hear more.
I knew we’d have a connection that would work just great with this interview series.
So here is more about Cricket and her Side Jams!
The Interview Questions – Plant Selling
Tell us about a fun, unique, or interesting Side Jam you’ve tried:
My daughter and I have a plant selling business, as well as a small worm farm.
How/why did you get started with this Side Jam?
My daughter wanted some extra toy money. We came up with the idea to buy seed packets from a discount store and grow our own plants. We also make our own seed starter pots out of newspaper. By doing this, the plants can be placed directly into the ground without having to be transferred from a pot.
How long have you both been doing this?
We’ve been at this for over two years, and it keeps getting bigger each year. We are even taking pre-orders from friends and family who have purchased from us in the past.
What materials are required to begin growing and selling plants?
In general, you need some seeds, something to plant them in, and potting soil so they can grow. We go to the local dollar store to pick up seed packets at 25 cents each.
For potting soil, you can either make your own if you actively compost, or pick up a big bag of soil from a discount store. And instead of seed pellets or pots, we make our own origami pots out of old newspapers.
You fold the newspaper to create little square pots that you can place the soil into. Once the seedlings grow, you can plant the entire thing into the ground — no need to transplant from a small pot into a bigger one, or from a pot into the ground. The newspaper will be absorbed naturally.
What types of plants do you grow & sell?
I let my daughter pick out whatever she wants when we’re in the dollar store. But we mainly focus on small plants and vegetables. If anything doesn’t sell, I can just plant it in our backyard or in our vegetable garden.
We also take inventory at the end of the season, to know what sold really well and what didn’t. By doing this, we will know what to buy more or less of the next year.
Where do you sell the plants? Do you have a marketing strategy?
When we first started out, my daughter set up a table in our front yard. I also told friends and family to stop by if they wanted to pick up a few plants.
Some people couldn’t make it, so they asked if we could set a few aside. That gave us the idea to start doing pre-orders.
As for advertising, I also post about the plant sale on Facebook, to reach a broader audience. Sometimes customers aren’t able to come out to purchase the plants, but are still willing to pre-order and pick up later.
How profitable has this endeavor been?
The seed packets at the dollar store are discounted at 4 for one dollar. Each packet can contain any number of seeds (depending on specific plant type.), By working the numbers, I’ve found we average a cost of 7 cents per plant. This includes seed purchase plus materials.
Since we are selling the plants for one dollar apiece, we earn a profit of 93 cents per plant. As you can imagine, since the price is so low, we get many customers who buy entire trays full of multiple plants. Each year, my daughter has made a few hundred dollars.
What did you learn while performing this activity?
Educationally, this has been a great lesson to teach my daughter. She has learned the basics of running a business, supply and demand, delayed gratification, customer service, sales, and also various financial skills. (She’s less than 10 years old!!)
She is the one who interacts directly with customers and makes the sale, including counting out change. This entire experience has taught my daughter math, science, statistics….But just don’t tell her she’s learning!
What type of research or learning curve is required for this Side Jam?
Not much at all. But it’s helpful to have a green thumb. And after the first season, you’ll get to know what grows well, and what people want to plant.
My daughter likes to get really involved with the pre-work though. At times, she’s asked if I could drive her to Lowe’s so she could do some competitor research! In fact, she has interviewed several employees in the nursery, asking which plants have been top sellers for them. (Smart girl!!)
As for the worms — not much is needed for those, they pretty much take care of themselves. (More on that later on!)
What tips would you have for someone who is looking to get started with a homegrown plant selling business?
Give it a try! Worst case scenario — if you don’t sell anything you can plant them in your own garden and sell off any extra produce.
Is this something you might try again some day? Why or why not?
Yes, we are on our third year of growing and selling plants, and will continue to do it as long as my daughter enjoys it.
We improve upon the process each and every year. I ask her what she might want to do differently the next time, and she always has some great suggestions. (For example: selling pre-orders, promoting on Facebook, and choosing different plants based on success rate.)
Your daughter originally wanted to do this to earn extra toy money — Did she get new toys? (or what did she get?)
Yes, she definitely did get new toys.
Specifically, she bought a couple of new Barbie dolls, some Legos, and a few other odds and ends.
What is your daughter’s favorite part of running these businesses?
She loves science, and learning all types of new things that she can get her hands physically onto. She likes to take things apart and put them back together again. While she does have a scientific mind and is extremely methodical, she also has quite a creative streak.
What’s your favorite part?
The fact that she is learning new skills that she can potentially use as she grows up.
She might become a future botanist, biologist, brain surgeon, or forensic scientist — wherever her creative mind takes her, working on whatever puzzles she’d like to unravel.
Where can readers find you online?
I can be found on Instagram @Defyingdebt.
I can also be found as a contributor at a new project, www.thewealthfactor.org.
In honor of this being my first Side Jam interview, we’ll go over a second Side Jam below — (And also because — c’mon, how can we NOT talk about a worm farm side hustle??)
Bonus Side Jam: The Worm Farm
How long have you be in the worm-selling business?
This is a fairly new endeavor, so we’re just starting to get it off the ground. Since we were already into the plant selling business, it seemed like an easy transition to work a worm farm into the process. They can be beneficial to each other.
Why would you want to sell worms? What are some of the benefits of owning a worm farm?
If you are already composting, worms are a natural fit. The technical term is called “vermicomposting“. When worms assist in the composting process, they are adding nutrients to the end product. The compost can then be used as a super-healthy fertilizer for your plants.
Another thing you can do is make worm tea (nope, not for sipping from grandma’s fine china — because that would be gross.) Worm tea is made from steeping worm castings (basically worm poo) in water to be used for fertilizing plants as well. Worm tea is also made from runoff of water used to keep the worm bin moist.
Additionally, you can choose to sell worms as bait, to people in the fishing community. A one lb box of worms will sell for $30 (with roughly one thousand worms in a box).
What materials are required to begin a worm farm?
You need a few plastic totes with lids (like from a big box store), and will need holes at the bottom and the top. At the bottom, so water can drain, and at the top, so air can get in.
Worms need to be kept moist and out of direct sunlight, because their skin is sensitive to light. Heat from the sun (or any direct light source) can dry them out and kill them.
You’ll also need dirt and/or compost, shredded newspaper — some sort of material for them to live in.
What do worms eat?
They basically eat anything — and I mean anything! They’ve been known to dine on any organic matter — fruit and vegetable scraps, plants, grass, and leaves. There are also some things they don’t really care for — usually on the more acidic side, such as onions.
However, if you have a bunch of food scraps, toss them all into a blender and feed them to the worms. The smaller the particle the quicker it is turned into castings and can be used in the garden.
Is it gross touching the worms?!? (Sorry, that’s just me being squeamish!!)
No, it isn’t that gross. I don’t mind touching them, when I have to.
And my daughter definitely doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty!
Sooo, in order to increase your supply, I’m assuming the worms procreate somehow. Do you need to get involved with that at all??
Nope, they do that all on their own, I have no involvement in that.
Note: Most worms are considered hermaphrodites, which means they have both male and female organs for reproduction. They produce little cocoons that eventually hatch into little baby worms.
On that note, I think we will wrap this up —
But in a nutshell, here is what we learned today from Cricket and her daughter’s unique & creative Side Jams:
- Anyone can figure out a fun way to hustle, regardless of age or existing skill set
- If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, you can be successful with both selling plants and raising worms
- Origami isn’t just an art project. It can also yield sustainable tools in which you can grow living things!
- Facebook isn’t just for socializing — it’s a quick & easy platform that can get your words or products out there
- Kids are smart — find something that they enjoy, and you can make a fun and educational project for them!
- Never. Stop. Learning.
And that’s where I will leave you for this week —
But before we go, I’d again like to thank Cricket for sharing the details on these unique & interesting ideas. She was extremely patient with all of my questions — of which I had many!
And I’d also like to express how super-impressed I was with her daughter’s creativity, resourcefulness, and tenacity.
Keep at it, girlfriend! Your future is absolutely unlimited!!
Thanks to everyone for joining me. And let me know if you’d be willing to try out either of these Side Jams —
Do you have a green thumb? Or would you be willing to raise a community of wiggly worms?
Hit me up in the Comments — I’d love to know your thoughts!
Robin : )