Side-Hustles Become Main Gigs in Houston

Post-pandemic Texans forge their own paths, turning part-time passions into full-time work.

The Coronavirus pandemic was an event that stymied the plans of people worldwide. Quarantine mandates forced Texans to stay at home, which led many to change how they did business. Some lost their jobs, and others struggled to keep their businesses open. The world, in general, was left to find new ways to make ends meet. However, what seemed like a stumbling block for most of us, turned into a unique opportunity for others. Many Houstonians have been turning their Covid crafts and home projects into new income streams.

Saturday mornings in downtown Tomball are busier than ever these days. Here, hundreds of Texans gather each week to visit the over 60 different marketers at the Tomball Farmer’s Market. They come from all over the Houston area to buy and sell everything from fresh farmed produce, eggs, and fresh bread to dog treats, beard oils, and jams made from exotic fruit. All of it is locally sourced. Many hadn’t thought of selling their wares until after the pandemic.

The Ironworks Marketplace on Milby street in the East End section of Downtown Houston, TX, is an entrepreneur’s paradise. This historic building, which used to be the home of Cameron Ironworks, has taken on a new identity in the last year. Now, it’s been modified to serve as one of the first and largest modular workspaces in Houston. Here, local artists, makers, and small business owners rent out space in modified shipping containers where they can share their unique wares with the world.

Inside is every manner of business. Tattoo artists sit next to bakers and nail techs. Some shops sell everything from scented candles to dog clothes. There’s even a cafe space where patrons can enjoy free wifi while they snack on coffee and sandwiches. If you’re into a CBD-infused snack, there’s a dispensary on site. Faith Cisneros and her husband Chris run Shop Local Market, a store that sells a number of different products from local artists and artisans. Faith attributed some of their success at the Ironworks Marketplace to artists from the pandemic quarantine.

“The pandemic certainly shifted the way things are… I think a lot of people had a lot of time to explore their creativity which is cool because a lot of people don’t ever get that opportunity because they’re working a normal 9-5. So we have a lot of people who come from the pandemic ya know when they started their businesses.”

Faith Cisneros

There seems to be no limit to the imagination of shop owners. One popular spot within the 64,000 square foot warehouse is Furrever Doggies which caters specifically to four-legged clientele. Treats and custom mixed dog foods are at snout level to entice the tastes of pups of every size and shape.

From Tomball to the heart of downtown and beyond, it seems to be happening all over the metroplex. Dr. Kareen Smith opened her new practice in the midst of the quarantine. Along with fellow physician and business partner Dr. Erica Lindsay, Smith opened Wonderfully made Pediatrics, located in Missouri City. For Smith, the pandemic. She had planned to start her own business seven years ago and was undeterred when the quarantine was in full swing. Smith credits her faith for her perseverance in times of uncertainty. “Just keep swimming,” she says. Sleepless nights, and finding ways to balance work and life on top of wearing all the hats of a business owner and a physician are things she finds challenging but she says they are worth the struggle if it means her children can be inspired by what she’s done.

As the trend of entrepreneurship grows, stories like these continue to propagate over not only Houston, but the entire Lonestar state and beyond.

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