Side jobs trend as pandemic gives rise to job insecurity

Vancouver residents are starting side businesses to maintain a stable income

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Reported by Jan Bevilacqua 

Nearly one year after sweeping COVID-19 restrictions closed many Vancouver businesses and left thousands jobless, many locals have found creative ways to earn a living.

Many are now making a profit off their hobbies

For some, the layoffs were an opportunity to turn hobbies into opportunities to make some cash.

As the global health crisis spread, unemployment rates in Vancouver surged, with 256,000 jobs lost between February and April. According to Statistics Canada, one in three Canadians did not have enough savings to manage even three months without work.

For Lara Manalo, a former supervisor at Vancouver International Airport, baking was a way to pass the time after she was laid off following the province-wide shutdown.

New to baking and with no business experience, Manalo started selling her Filipino pastries after having been encouraged to do so by family. She named her new business Ava’s Bakeshop after her two-year-old daughter.

“I know it’s simple because it’s just food,” said Manalo. “But for me, making [customers] happy and satisfied, that’s the most fulfilling part.”

Manalo has recently returned to work and now only bakes on Sundays, even so, Ava’s Bakeshop is busier than ever. A variety of baked goods are offered, ranging in price from five dollars to $25.

Side jobs soon became a sustainable source of income

Paige Roeske decided to turn her love of vintage fashion into an online business to stay afloat while unemployed.

“I was laid off in March 2020, and the COVID relief plan only went so far,” Roeske said. “So, I decided to start selling some of my vintage clothing that I already owned, and that kind of became its own little business.”

Roeske was surprised at how quickly she found success through her online shop, Twinn Vintage. To keep up with demand, she started sourcing vintage apparel from thrift stores and online auctions.

Since starting the venture, Roeske has made over 100 sales. With most items priced upwards of $50, the income generated helped provide for expenses that government aid was unable to cover.

After returning to work as a lifeguard, her business slowed to a trickle. Though most of her time is spent at her job, Roeske does her best to maintain her business presence.

Looking back, Roeske’s only regret is that she didn’t start up her vintage shop earlier.

Bee Higgins is used to maintaining several jobs at once. In addition to their job at retail shop Make Vancouver, Higgins offers a wide range of services online from petsitting to home decluttering.

With more people staying home during the pandemic, there was less interest in their in-house services, though Higgins continued to offer them online, nonetheless.

Higgins was able to stay afloat with help from the COVID relief plan. Without spreading their time across multiple services, they were able to spend more time beading, which they see as a core way for them to connect with their family and Métis culture.

“It’s very important to me that I keep my work online and keep my work available to people who will need it — Indigenous Peoples first and foremost,” said Higgins.

While beadwork helped boost their income until they eventually returned to their job, for Higgins, the biggest benefit wasn’t financial. It was emotional.

“Beading is just teaching me to love myself again, teaching me to be kind to myself and teaching me patience,” they said.

 

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