Do you want to make more money on the side? Well, there are a lot of ways that you can. You just have to be creative and take action. Of course it may not be easy, but there are lots of ways you can create money on the side, and sometimes that side hustle can become your main business. You’ve heard of Uber right? The car service that was pushed out of South Korea not too long ago. Well, did you know that Uber started off as a side business? Yup! It was a side business. Now, you’ve heard of Flower Gift Korea right? The flower shop that has a ton of 5 star reviews and delivers flowers to people in Korea, including Kpop celebrities. Yeah, well, that was a side business as well! And if you didn’t know, my wife and I are the founders of the business! Yes, Flower Gift Korea is still too fresh in my mind and I sometimes get emotional looking at photos. It truly was and somewhat is my baby. So it is bitter sweet that my wife and I were able to sell the business to new owners.
*The above photo is of Brandy and I working on Flower Gift Korea chocolate bouquets at home. You can see us working just in our kitchen area. We had just finished working at our English Gyosoopso and had to make some chocolate bouquets to send out for the next day.
Well, back to side hustles…
Before I started Flower Gift Korea or even IGL, I did some tutoring on the side, which was truly my first side hustle. It truly was a hustle since it was the only money I was making for some time. I was in-between jobs and was waiting to hear back from the Gangnam Education District about whether or not they were going to hire me for 2012. It was October or November 2011, I had no job, and even if I got the job, I wouldn’t start till February 2012. So it meant that I wouldn’t even receive a payment till March. And at that point, I had probably just a couple million won saved, which meant I had a couple of million won to last me 5 – 6 months to pay for rent, food and other necessities. I was dating my wife (who was my girlfriend at the time), and I was probably at one of the lowest points in my life in Korea at that point. I quit the company job I didn’t like because I didn’t want to be there and I also felt like the company no longer wanted me to be there, so the feeling was mutual. And I was fresh off of experiencing my first panic attack and suffering through a lot of anxiety. I remember going to my girlfriend’s house to eat dinner because I didn’t have much money and she even gave me some money at times to help me pay rent. After awhile, her mother would have extra food cooked because she knew I was coming. Man, just got a little emotional just reminiscing about this. And wow, I had the best girlfriend and her mother was (and is) super caring, so I am truly thankful for my wife and mother-in-law. Anyways, it wasn’t a great time for me, though it really strengthened our relationship and I love the fact that my wife was with me at a time when I was so not confident in myself. And I have no one to blame but myself for being in that situation. I should have had more money saved up or at least a job lined up before quitting my previous job. But, hey, you live and you learn.
So anyways, I didn’t have any money coming in. So I was desperate. Up until that point I rejected any request to tutor people because I thought I wasn’t allowed to do it even though a lot of people were. And I also didn’t want to do it. But I truly regretted it. I thought to myself, “should I call so and so and ask if they want me to tutor their son still?” But I had a feeling that they would not be interested, so instead I designed a black and white flyer with Microsoft word and went around my area posting copies of them up. I didn’t have a tutoring license at this point and I honestly had no idea how to even get one, but I was desperate to make some money. So even though I feared getting reported or getting in trouble for tutoring without a license, I was more afraid that I was going to have to rely on my then girlfriend (now wife) to help me pay for food and rent.
*The photo above is the room where we did most of our work. You can see a bunch of snacks, gift boxes, gift baskets, and other supplies. It was hectic at times, but it is so good to see photos like this. It reminds me of the hard work my wife and I put in to grow, build, and sell one of our businesses in South Korea.
After a couple of days I got some phone calls and I was really excited. In the end, I got my first tutoring gig with a brother and sister combo who lived not too far from where I was staying. Nice! And then another one. And then someone contacted me on linkedin and asked me to tutor them. So, I was really happy because I was seeing some cash flow. It wasn’t a whole lot, but it was enough to last me till I got my first pay check with my next job. The greatest part was that I ended up getting a job in the Gangnam district and I kept most of my tutoring students for awhile, so I was making even more money than in my previous job. Score!
But I never ever wanted to turn my side hustle of tutoring into my main business because it was very inconsistent and I had to travel to different parts of Seoul.
Another side business I had was Flower Gift Korea. Flower Gift Korea was made with the intention of becoming a second business. We initially wanted to make it into a family business and involve members from Brandy’s family and we were getting close to hiring outside help. But when we started, we just didn’t have enough orders to hire anybody. It was pretty much a side business that made some sales here and there. But that was okay because we were still running our English gyosopso at the time. When we first started Flower Gift Korea, we were in our 3rd year of running IGL English and by then, IGL English was very easy to run. I had already taught most of the curriculum the year before, so I didn’t have to do that much preparation work. If the neighbourhood that our English Gyosoopso was in wasn’t going through gentrification (old buildings coming down and new ones coming up), then we most likely would have done both businesses since the money would have been really good. But in the end, it made sense for us to close IGL English and expand our side business and make it into our main business.
*The above photo is another shot of Brandy doing some work on a flower bouquet. As stated, the work room in our home also doubled as our laundry room.
It was a fun and exciting time growing Flower Gift Korea from our home. We would wake up early and go to the flower market, then come back home to make the flower order. Sometimes we ended up bringing the flower product to our English Gyosoopso because someone had requested for a late delivery. So we had delivery men coming to our English Gyosoopso to pick up the flowers to deliver for our customers. Sometimes our students would wonder why there were flowers at our English Gyosoopso and we would just tell them that we like flowers. We honestly didn’t want the parents to know that we were running a flower business in the mornings.
Honestly, my wife and I never thought Flower Gift Korea would have been as good as it got. Of course we both hoped, but when we first started, we honestly didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t have connections in the flower industry in Korea since neither one of us had much experience selling flowers or even making flowers. But true to my style, we threw ourselves in and ended up doing something really great. Also, it really helped not having any real competition in the English flower industry in South Korea at the time we started Flower Gift Korea.