Cassidy Goff, a senior majoring in communication studies, said the idea for her artsy side hustle came about when she was trying to figure out a Christmas present for her boyfriend.
Goff said she took one of her father’s old jean jackets and painted a dragon with Chinese characters and calligraphy. When she liked the outcome, she started to thrift and paint different denim clothing items to resell.
“I really like the idea of taking stuff that's already out there and making it new again," Goff said.
Goff paints all types of denim, including jean jackets, vests and dresses. She uses acrylic paint and a textile medium that creates washable, permanent fabric paint.
Goff said she started using her mother’s jewelry storefront to sell her work. Now, Goff has expanded to selling her work on Instagram and Etsy, and this past summer she decided to set up shop at a flea market in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Goff also gives people the option to bring their own denim to create custom pieces. Her most successful business route is thrifting blank jeans for clients to purchase and then consult with them about what they would like on the denim.
Goff said her painted denim business has been a great way to make extra money over the summer in a way she really enjoys. Running her business and selling her art has also given her a new perspective on how to profit from her art going into her last year at UNC.
"It's made me a more independent person because this whole summer I had my whole shop in my car and was able to set it up all by myself, and I felt really self-reliant,” Goff said. “It feels good that I can make money from my art."
Digital Pet Portraits
Katie Otto, a 2019 UNC graduate who majored in communication studies, had always taken an interest in graphic design. Inspiration for her artsy side hustle came during her junior year at UNC, when Otto was looking for creative ways to raise money for the Carolina For The Kids annual dance marathon campaign.
This is when Otto decided to try creating a digital pet portrait for the first time. Otto started by posting her work on different Facebook groups to gauge interest.
Otto only asked for a $10 donation, and orders started pouring in. Within two months, Otto had 60 orders to fill and $600 raised for the campaign.
"I didn't really anticipate it taking off like it did,” Otto said. "I'm really grateful for that first rush because it really made me think that this is something I could keep doing beyond the scope of Carolina For The Kids.”
Now Otto offers her talents for custom portraits on Etsy. Otto said she works with her clients to help them choose their background and color scheme based on their own preferences, or Otto will choose based on the pet's name and coloring.
"I use the picture as a template, and I go off of the different colors and shapes, so it's realistic, but also kind of like a cartoon.”
Otto has expanded her art from just pet portraits to couples, families, homes and even UNC images like Roy Williams, The Old Well and the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower.
Thanks to taking a chance on a unique fundraiser, Otto continues to make extra money on the side, and she said the graphic design portfolio she built helped her land her first job.
School of Rock, but make it Chapel Hill
Emily Kramer, a junior double majoring in communication studies and music, is a piano instructor at School of Rock Chapel Hill.
At School of Rock, students ages 6 and above take music lessons on instruments, including piano, drums, voice, guitar and bass guitar. Kramer works with children ages 6 to 7 with no prior music experience in the Rookies program.
Kramer said she worked as a piano camp counselor in high school and knew she wanted to continue teaching music. When she saw that School of Rock was hiring through an email the UNC music department sent out last year, she didn’t hesitate to apply. Kramer now works part-time and dedicates 10 to 15 hours a week to teaching music fundamentals in group lessons.
"I was just looking for a job,” Kramer said. “I was in my classes, but I had free time — and I know that's not a common issue among college students, but I really wanted something else to do, and it's something really awesome to do."
Kramer said all of the hard work her students put into their weekly sessions really shows, and makes her job even more fun and enjoyable.
"At the end of four or five months, you're watching an 11-year-old shred guitar, and it's just really rewarding because it's good music — these kids are amazing — and it's really cool to see your kids go from learning where the notes are to walking on stage and rocking out."