I’m A Hustla Baby…

When you live in a city like this, you learn quickly that you may need to take on a side hustle to survive.  A full-time job is often not enough to make ends meet.

The other day I was on the train and this Asian girl came on selling calendars that she illustrated herself.  She had a cardboard sign that said the calendars were $10.  She had two versions of her work.  They were mid-sized and I figured that $10 for both was a decent deal.  I wasn’t interested, but I watched closely as a woman asked to see the calendars.  She examined both carefully and I noticed that one was an anime calendar and the other had more general, colorful drawings. The woman apparently liked the colorful one the most and said she wanted to purchase it.  She pulled out $10 and I expected to see the girl give her $5 back.  But she didn’t.  That’s when I realized the calendars were $10 each.  EACH.  Not to be a hater, but $10 for a hand-drawn calendar?  After she sold that calendar, she went into a bag and pulled out another one just like it and continued peddling her wares through the train.  I guess I should have been taking notes.  She seemed to have it all down to an art, literally.

On any given day, I see so many “hustlas.”  From the kids selling candy “not for my basketball team, but to make some money to keep me off the streets”, to the dancers, singers, musicians, and my favorite, the homeless comedian (he is actually pretty funny).  They remind me of the infamous Hustle Man.

I used to see a guy like this all the time on the A train.  He would get on the train and shout “The store is open!  The store is open!”  In said “store”, he sold bootleg DVDs, loosies (single cigarettes) and nutcrackers (mixed alcoholic drinks in small juice bottles, in assorted “flavas”).  Ok, so these weren’t exactly luxury (or legal?) goods.  But he had a whole sales pitch and would challenge anyone that wasn’t paying attention.  He commanded an audience and worked the crowd.  After seeing this charismatic salesman a few times, I decided to support his business efforts.  I purchased two DVDs for $5.  Mind you, he claimed his DVDs were of the utmost quality.  I wouldn’t exactly call blurry pictures with people walking in front of the theater screen quality. But that’s what I get for supporting piracy.  Lesson learned.  Never again (plus, I work in media now).  Can’t knock his hustle though.

There are lots of people in this city that are finding creative means to either avoid or supplement a 9-to-5.  In fact, most, if not all, of my friends are entrepreneurs.  One of my closest friends dramatically reduced her hours at a non-profit job to grow profits in her fitness business. Another good friend has a corporate gig, but released an amazing hip hop album on the side.  Yet another quit her job altogether to become a full-time fitness coach and travel the world teaching dance fitness.  I know someone else that is fortunate enough to be able to focus solely on her music career and she has a jewelry line.  Plus, my sister owns a beauty salon in Rochester.

There are countless women in my life that have either struck out on their own or balance their job(s) with a side business. They are master strategists that manage their finances well and their time productively. They used their regular jobs to fund their passion projects.  That inspires me to pursue my dreams and to strive towards entrepreneurship myself.

I mean, this is NYC after all.  The city of dreams.

In New York,
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
There’s nothing you can’t do,
Now you’re in New York,
These streets will make you feel brand new,
The lights will inspire you,
Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York 

I’m a hustler baby (I’m a hustler)
I just want you to know (Wanna let you know)
It ain’t where I been (It ain’t where I been)
But where I’m bout to go (Top of the world!)


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