I’m a nurse who volunteers to give out COVID-19 vaccines. I administer about 100 a day to people both skeptical of and grateful for the shot.

vaccine
  • Kathryn (not her real name) is a nurse in the Indianapolis metro area administering vaccines.
  • Kathryn uses her paid time off to volunteer and has even been able to give her son the vaccine.
  • This is her story, as told to freelance writer Meira Gebel.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Kathryn (not her real name) is a registered nurse in the Indianapolis metro area. She spoke anonymously out of concern for her privacy. Her identity has been verified by Insider.

I’ve been a registered nurse for over 30 years, and it’s been the most rewarding experience. My hospital opened its first vaccine clinic in December, and I started volunteering right away.

I don’t remember the first vaccine I gave, but I remember the very first day I volunteered – I was so nervous.

In my current role, I don’t give a lot of vaccinations. I made sure to read up on all the vaccine types and reminded myself how to properly administer one by watching the videos the hospital provided us. I’ve found that the more I do, the better I am.

The first group to receive the vaccine were people in their 80s and 90s. I remember them being so grateful and appreciative. Many of them were so relieved because they’d had to truly isolate from their loved ones for nearly an entire year.

The next group were the healthcare workers – that’s when I was able to get vaccinated as well.

The majority of people are extremely emotional.

A lot of people are very nervous – but we take time with each of them, reassure them, and walk them through the process and the side effects.

Last weekend, I was able to give my son the vaccine, which was such a relief. He volunteered to work at the clinic, and at first I was worried because being around so many people filtering in and out could have put him at risk. But now, knowing he has the first dose, I feel so much better as a parent knowing he’ll be safe.

The only negative experience I had was when one person came in and said that they were only there because their family was making them, and that they didn’t want to know about the side effects or any additional information.

My hospital’s vaccination site is small, but we do an average of 400 to 600 vaccinations each day.

As a nurse, there were a couple of volunteer jobs I qualified for – one of them was doing the inoculations and the other was preparing the vaccines.

Our clinic offers both Pfizer and Moderna, which require reconstituting the vials (diluting them with a solution) and pulling the medication through the syringes.

Volunteers work an average of four to six hours, and I do about 100 vaccinations per shift.

Most of the people at the vaccination clinic are volunteers. We have a couple of paid volunteers, but everybody there is doing it because it’s nice to be part of that solution rather than just seeing the horror stories in the hospital.

I volunteer on the weekend, and also use my paid time off to volunteer during the week. I try to volunteer two or three times a week. Since I’ve been working at the hospital for so long, I have a comfortable amount of PTO, which I don’t mind using because I enjoy volunteering.

At our clinic, people pre-register online for their appointment and a volunteer greets them at the entrance to check them in.

They’re then moved right to the vaccination area, where they sit down in a private area with a nurse to read over the vaccine information. We ask them a few questions about whether they’ve contracted COVID-19 previously or if they’re having similar symptoms, and then we talk about the possible side effects of the vaccine.

Once the vaccine is administered, they wait in the 15-minute observation area and then register to receive their second dose. Everyone’s in and out in about 30 minutes.

A typical shift is very busy, with patients coming in and out right after one another. The clinic provides all volunteers with PPE and everything is spaced out to comply with social distancing.

People receiving the vaccine are not in a large room with others, but in a private area, one-on-one with a nurse. I always think I’ll be able to count how many vaccinations I do in a day, but the shift goes by so quickly because of how efficient the clinic is at getting people in and out.

In my experience, Indiana’s registration website is better than most other states.

Demand for the vaccine is high, and I know some friends and family who’ve had trouble finding appointments. Some of my family members have chosen to volunteer at a vaccination site in hopes there will be leftover vaccines at the end of the day.

At our hospital, if there are leftovers, we vaccinate the volunteers. There are typically a small number of leftover vaccines at the end of every day that always go to the unvaccinated volunteers first. But it can be scary to be a volunteer – being out in the public for an extended amount of time puts you at risk of exposure to the virus.

Before the pandemic, I worked as a diabetes educator.

But when cases started to quickly rise, many of the nurses in my hospital were re-trained as in-patient nurses to assist with COVID-19 patients and overflow care.

It was an emotional time, and it was terrifying. We were all afraid of taking the virus home to our families.

I’m so thankful to be giving the vaccine. It’s amazing that we’ve been able to administer it so quickly and that it’s safe.

As healthcare workers, we understand receiving the vaccine can be a nerve-racking experience. But I believe it’s so important, and we want as many people to come in as possible because the sooner we’re able to put shots in arms, the sooner we’ll be safer as a community.

I want people to know that when you walk into a vaccination clinic, you’ll be taken care of.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I’m an Amazon delivery driver who’s had to pee in water bottles and eat lunch in my van. I hate the new surveillance cameras and feel like I’m always being watched.

Rivian Amazon delivery van
“During the holiday season, I was targeted in attempted robberies and have had people follow me while out on my route,” says Angel Rajal, who started driving for Amazon in July.

  • Angel Rajal, 26, is an Amazon delivery driver living in Las Vegas.
  • He’s been penalized for changing the radio station and calls the new surveillance cameras “annoying.”
  • This is his story, as told to freelance writer Meira Gebel.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After four years of working in an Amazon warehouse, I applied to be an Amazon delivery driver.

I wanted to be a driver because I thought I would have a lot more freedom and wouldn’t have to deal with the uneven management style in the warehouse.

Angel_Rajal
Angel Rajal.

I started as a delivery driver in July, in the middle of the pandemic, driving a classic Amazon van, but have enjoyed being in a customer-facing role compared to the distribution center. (Rajal, like most Amazon delivery drivers, is hired by a local delivery service partner (DSP) and considered an independent subcontractor.)

However, during the holiday season, I was targeted in attempted robberies and have had people follow me while out on my route.

Working as a delivery driver comes with its own pains, too. You’re in a packed-to-the-brim van for more than 10 hours a day, are expected to deliver up to 400 packages, and each package is expected to be delivered within 30 seconds.

The routes, too, sometimes take you to rural areas where public bathrooms are out of reach.

There have been multiple times where I’ve had to pee in a plastic water bottle because there was no bathroom available to me.

Many public restrooms are closed because of COVID-19, but most of the time I’m out in the mountains making deliveries and feel pressured to keep up with my route.

My current route is fairly rural, and it would take me 15 minutes to get to the nearest restroom. It would take over 40 minutes round trip and put me far behind schedule, which would dock points from my score.

I used to enjoy being an Amazon delivery driver. But ever since the company installed cameras in our vans, it feels like we’re always being watched.

Amazon says the AI-powered, 270-degree cameras are motion activated and not recording all the time.

They can tell what the driver is doing. I get a “distracted driver” notification even if I’m changing the radio station or drinking water. Sometimes if I turn my head away from the front of the van, I’ll get a ding.

It’s getting to be so annoying. For every “distracted driver” notification, I’m being docked points from my safety score, which is reviewed by management and can be used to dock my hours or fire me. Amazon said the camera is there to help us with safety, but it feels like an invasion of privacy.

Most of the drivers in my DSP feel just as frustrated as me with the new cameras. Amazon has also changed its routing algorithm and marks multiple deliveries in one area as a single stop, even though the houses and apartments are spread out and are oftentimes on the other side of the block. It’s changes like these that make our jobs so much harder.

I used to think I would have freedom as a delivery driver, but most of the time I eat my lunch in my van on the side of the road of my route because it would take me too far out of the way to find a park and enjoy the fresh air.

I used to work for Amazon in the customer service returns department.

My job was to process every single return customers sent back to the company, make sure the items were not damaged, and determine whether the item could be resold.

The warehouse was the biggest warehouse I’ve ever seen. I estimate over 1,000 people worked there throughout various departments.

I worked the night shift, meaning I worked from around 7:15 p.m. to 7 a.m. Before working for Amazon, I worked in security, so I was already used to the long, late-night hours.

Amazon warehouse workers are expected to “make rate” – a productivity metric where we have to process a certain number of packages and items within an hour or risk dropping in rate, being written up, or fired if we fall too far behind. In my department, I was expected to process 40 to 60 returns in a single hour, which was stressful and at times seemed impossible.

I was written up twice during my time working in the warehouse.

The first was because I had a bloody nose and didn’t make rate for the hour I spent tending to it.

The second was when I had to leave early to deal with a family emergency. Whenever you don’t make rate, it goes into your performance review.

The most challenging thing about working in the warehouse was leadership and management.

In my experience, managers showed favoritism to some and overlooked others when it came to promotions. I applied for ambassador roles (workers who trained new hires) multiple times and never received a promotion or raise.

Leadership also contradicted one another often. I would have one manager tell me to do a task a certain way and another tell me to do it the opposite. The managers often disagreed on the right ways to train new hires and coach associates on simple tasks like processing items.

Sometimes managers would yell at each other in the presence of associates.

It felt like the company had no structure and anyone could make up the rules as they went along.

It also felt like we were discouraged from using our paid time off and vacation hours. Managers would often tell associates to “be careful” of how we spent our PTO because if we ever had an emergency and didn’t have enough hours to make up the rest of our shifts, we wouldn’t be able to leave. (PTO is determined by how an employee is classified, whether part-time, full-time, or salaried, and increases based on how many years are spent working for Amazon.)

There were times when associates talked about forming a union, but nothing ever came out of those talks.

My job as a warehouse worker for Amazon was easy in terms of tasks, but was physically demanding.

The one thing I liked about working for Amazon as a customer service associate was the pay and that medical benefits were available when you started. But overall, the experience in the warehouse itself was very negative.

I would say about 60% to 70% of the drivers I’ve talked to are interested in unionizing.

I stay up to date on Amazon news through employee social media forums on Facebook and Reddit.

A lot of Amazon workers are paying attention to what happens in Alabama with the union vote and believe unionizing is the way to go for better pay and better working conditions.

In a statement to Insider, Amazon spokesperson Deborah Bass wrote: “Like most companies, we have performance expectations for every Amazon employee and we measure actual performance against those expectations. Associate performance is measured and evaluated over a period of time as we know that a variety of things could impact the ability to meet expectations in any given day or hour. Netradyne cameras are used to help keep drivers and the communities where we deliver safe. We piloted the technology from April to October 2020 on over two million miles of delivery routes and the results produced remarkable driver and community safety improvements – accidents decreased 48%, stop sign violations decreased 20%, driving without a seatbelt decreased 60%, and distracted driving decreased 45%. Don’t believe the self-interested critics who claim these cameras are intended for anything other than safety.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

At 42, I quit my job in property management to become a webcam model. Now I earn $1,000 a day and make my own schedule – here’s why I love it.

Ainslee Divine
Ainslee Divine worked for 15 years as a property management company owner before changing careers.

  • Ainslee Divine (not her real name) is a 46-year-old webcam model who lives and works in Scottsdale, Arizona.
  • She worked for 15 years as a property management company owner and says her new life means more freedom.
  • This is her story, as told to freelance writer Jenny Powers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It all started when I was 42 years old. I’d owned a property management company for 15 years, so I wasn’t looking for a career change – just a little fun.

I’d lost a ton of weight and I was feeling pretty good and wanted to show it off, so I started an Instagram account. My husband has always been supportive, and he basically said, “Go ahead, show the rest of the world how beautiful you are,” so I began posting sexy pictures. Early on, I posted a pic wearing a Malibu Strings bikini and the brand reposted it on their feed.

The next thing I knew, I went from zero to 20,000 followers in 45 days.

I wound up meeting a guy through Instagram and we got to talking, and he suggested I started webcamming. He said if I wanted to make a name for myself and make money, that was the way to go. I was completely unaware of what webcamming entailed, but he gave me the short and condensed Reader’s Digest version – a rundown of what I’d need to get started (laptop, lighting, strong internet connection, camera, toys, etc.) He encouraged me to look at the three main webcam platforms and watch other models which was invaluable.

Ainslee Divine
Divine on the golf course.

We also talked about what I’d be willing to do online. The fact is being a webcam model doesn’t always equate to getting naked. We also talked about personality and being friendly and not giving trolls any of my time. All of it piqued my interest – and my husband was open to my exploring this new avenue.

On October 4, 2016, I went live for the first time. The combination of excitement and nervousness on my face must have been priceless, but I was so well-received I found myself instantly drawn to it. Due to my age, I suddenly was considered a MILF, a term that – as the mother of a 23-year-old – I was familiar with, but had not embraced.

Now this is my full-time job. I’m at the top end of my industry and making more money than I ever imagined.

I cam on Streamate Friday through Monday beginning at 8:30 a.m., and I don’t stop until I hit my minimum daily goal which ranges from $1,000 to $1,800. About eight months ago, I decided to step up my game and began spending Tuesday through Thursday creating subscriber-only content to post on OnlyFans. I bring in five figures a month on each platform and get paid via direct deposit weekly. During my best month to date, I earned dollars shy of $80,000.

The pandemic has definitely caused a spike in the number of cam models.

There used to be anywhere from 1,700 to 2,200 models online, but now with everyone home, it’s more like 3,000 models at any given time. There’s a crazy amount of content creators now, but since I was on an upward trend before all of this started, I’m not really concerned about the influx. Things are good; I was just nominated for Best MILF Cam Model for the XBiz 2020 Cam Awards happening this month and I recently got new 32G boobs and got a publicist to help me venture into mainstream projects as well.

My set-up is pretty simple.

Ainslee Divine's camming setup in the guest bedroom of her home.
Her studio is in the guest bedroom of her home.

We live in Scottsdale, Arizona and our guest room doubles as my studio. There’s a bed, and as far as equipment goes, I’ve got a laptop, a 4K webcam for the best picture quality, a big screen I hook it all up to, two big-box lights to light me, and a rack of clothing and a box of toys I use on camera.

Really, I can work from anywhere as long as there’s an internet connection. Sometimes if we’re on vacation and I feel like making some money, I’ll cam or post online for a bit. I’ve cammed and interacted with fans while vacationing in Hawaii, Mexico, Florida, California, Oregon – even Bora Bora. We’re going to buy a boat soon and I’ll be able to cam from there too.

This is a 365/24-7 job, but during the day I take lots of breaks.

Finding balance is important. I’ll lay by our pool, play with our French bulldog, play golf (I’m a 9 handicap), do laundry, and pick up groceries.

I get over 3,000 direct messages a day on Instagram and selectively answer between 50-100 daily. Since I appeal to people worldwide, 30% of the messages I receive are in a language I don’t know. The messages are overwhelmingly complimentary. I’m very proud that all my followers are organic. I’ve never paid anyone to advertise or buy followers. I run my own accounts and don’t use third-party apps, either.

My look, personality, and age niche all make up me and my brand, and most people respond very well to it. You’ve got to have a thick skin in this business, though, because you can’t make everyone happy. Every day a few people will tell me I’m too old or to get a real job. I just tune them out and the platform allows me to block any abusive people from my room.

Camming is ideal for me because I’m a real people pleaser. I have way more freedom than I did in corporate America, because now when I roll out of bed, I’m already at work.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I made nearly $10,000 last month doing freelance voice-over work. I get 90% of my work through Fiverr and work just five hours a day – here’s how I do it.

Alice Everdeen
Alice Everdeen is a freelancer based in Texas.

  • Alice Everdeen is a 29-year-old voice-over artist based in Austin, Texas.
  • After years working in radio and TV, Everdeen quit her full-time job and now can make thousands a week as a freelancer.
  • This is what her job is like, as told to freelance writer Rose Maura Lorre.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

I launched my full-time voice-over career just last year, but even as a kid, I was always doing voice work in some way. I would constantly mimic the people I heard in commercials and on the radio and I made tons of prank phone calls, but I never really thought about it as something I could do as a career.

I went to Rutgers University to study journalism and visual arts. After working at MSNBC and a local news station for several years, I moved to Texas in 2016. There, I eventually switched over to a production company where I wrote and produced TV and radio ads.

One day, I was going over a client’s script with my colleagues. Just as a joke, I read the script out loud in the most over-the-top radio voice I could think of. They stopped and stared at me; then they said, “Wow, that was really good!”

I started doing voice-overs for the company and realized it was really fun.

I also think it also helped that I’m a very animated person and I enunciate well.

Then around January 2020, right before the pandemic, I was going through a divorce and felt unhappy going to work for nine hours a day. I told myself, “I’m going to quit my job, start freelancing, buy a school bus, and I’m going to travel.”

I made my own voice-over demo reel and made a profile on Fiverr and things surprisingly took off.

One of the first clients I got was Fiverr itself. I know they will hire new members to give them some credibility, so I think they just saw that I was new and they liked my demo. Now I book probably 90% of my work through Fiverr, where other companies will find me for their clients. I’ve done VOs for companies like, Valvoline, Community Coffee, Verizon, Accenture, and Amazon.

I always ask potential clients a few questions before accepting the job.

Alice Everdeen
Everdeen says she practices each script several times before recording.

I ask how long the script is, what’s the audience and tone they’re going for, and whether or not the recording has to meet certain time requirements. My voice-overs typically run anywhere from 15 seconds to three minutes, but I’ve done some audio (usually for e-learning projects) that was as long as 20 minutes.

Generally, I practice a script a couple times and record it as many as four times, depending on how comfortable I am with the style and subject. Medical or technical copy can take me way longer. Then comes editing, which takes forever. I usually spend four times as long on editing as I do on recording, because I have to remove breaths, gaps, mess-ups, etc. I spend about 10% of my time practicing scripts, 30% recording them, and 60% editing the recording.

I’ve spent over $1,000 on equipment to produce the best quality voice-overs.

I work with a Rode NT USB mic, which costs about $170, and then I have a dinky HP laptop that I bought about a year ago. I definitely should have bought a more powerful one, but for now it gets the job done.

I also bought myself an Isovox, which is a soundproofed, square-shaped box you shove your head into. It’s super claustrophobic, but it makes my audio sound pretty great. I use a program called Audacity to edit my work.

Due to COVID-19, there are tons of phone recording jobs these days.

Alice Everdeen Isovox
Everdeen recording inside her Isovox.

About 20% of my orders nowadays talk about safety precautions or mention COVID directly. Pretty much every company needs a new outgoing message saying, “Thank you for calling blah-blah. Here are the precautions we’re taking,” or, “We offer pick-ups and deliveries, etc.”

These are probably the most boring jobs, because they’re just so straightforward. Personally, my favorite assignments are when I get to feel like I’m acting and I can really get into a character.

Taking care of my voice is something I try not to be a diva about. Mainly, I just stay hydrated. I try not to record in the morning, when I sound congested and nasally. I also avoid recording when I’m tired or angry, because that’ll come through in my vocal quality.

I sometimes get weird and even creepy requests.

I’ve occasionally received requests from people (almost all of them men) for fetish-related “audio porn” although since I’ve raised my prices it’s gotten better. People will ask for burping recordings, or that I record the sound of myself being tickled. Somebody else asked me if I could simulate the sound of getting a wedgie while also talking about how the wedgie feels and how much I hate getting wedgies. I respond to those requests with, “I’m not interested, but good luck.”

As a freelancer, I’ve already surpassed my old full-time income. In January, I had my best week ever when I made about $3,300. February was my best month to date – I made just under $10,000 total. And even on my busiest days, I’m still only working from about 12 to 5 p.m. The amount of free time this career allows has been the biggest blessing, as it’s given me and my partner time to work on refurbishing our school bus.

Alice Everdeen
Everdeen and her partner are currently refurbishing an old school bus to make it road trip-ready.

If you want to get into this line of work, my advice is to work on your acting.

Even if you have a nice voice, doing voice-overs is really about being an actor more than anything. You have to be able to sound compelling and convincing.

There are websites specifically for finding voice-over work, like Voices.com, Voices123, and VoiceBunny. I went the Fiverr route because I’d used it in my previous lines of work. You can definitely land bigger jobs on the voice-over websites, whereas a lot of the Fiverr and Upwork roles are more for mom-and-pop places. I’ve had my share of big clients, but most of my work is for smaller companies.

You’re going to get a lot of rejections at the start, especially if you go the more traditional route of auditioning for roles. While I don’t audition for the work I get via Fiverr, I’m also on Upwork, where I audition for roles and lose a lot of them. You can do something you think is perfect and other people hate it. It’s hard sometimes, but I’ve learned to just power through and continually improve.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I run a microbrewery at a private club in Hawaii. After years of part-time jobs, here’s how I made a career out of my love for brewing beer.

Steve Balzer at Kohanaiki microbrewery in Kalaoa, Hawaii.
Steve Balzer at Kohanaiki microbrewery in Kalaoa, Hawaii.

  • Steve Balzer is the master brewer at a microbrewery at a private club in Kalaoa, Hawaii.
  • Balzer says he enjoys the independence and collaboration with local farmers that working at a microbrewery allows.
  • This is what his job is like, as told to freelance writer Natasha Bazika.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

I’d started brewing beer when I was 21 at college in Oregon and kept doing it as a passion. After graduating from college in the 2008 economy crash, I didn’t have much luck job-wise. 

My degree was in marketing and economics, and while I initially had a job lined up, after graduation I was laid off before I even started, so I worked part-time jobs and brewed on the side. After four years of unstable temporary jobs, I decided to go back to college. I enrolled in Siebel Institute of Technology – out of Munich, Germany, and Chicago – for a masters of brewing.

It can be challenging to get in the door in the brewing industry.

My first job was as a keg washer in Portland. People were willing to work for free, but I was lucky enough to get the paid gig of keg washing. From there I moved up to the cellar, and then brewer. I even helped someone start a brewery in Portland.

In 2018 Big Island Brewhaus was looking for a head brewer. They approached me with a two-year contract, I said yes, then they moved my family out to Waimea and I started to run the brewery. 

As my contract came to an end, the vice president of operations at a nearby private residential club community called Kohanaiki contacted me to see if I’d be interested in being the master brewer at their brewery. I took on the job in May 2020, just as the pandemic worsened and everyone went into lockdown. 

The brewery had been shut down and vacant for quite some time before I came along. So during the pandemic, while the club had no members, I cleaned, reorganized, and resurfaced the tanks. When guests started coming in early October 2020 and everything slowly started reopening, that’s when the ball started rolling. 

This brewery is much smaller than I experienced in past jobs. At the corporate breweries where I worked before, I was never in charge of accounting, management, or any of the paperwork. At Kohanaiki, I’m a one-man team, so I need to pay attention to the budget and spend at least a few hours every day answering emails.

Even though it’s more work, I prefer the structured system and being tuned in on the business side. Other breweries I’ve worked at didn’t have a budget, so it was easy to go a little crazy spending, but here, I know what I can and can’t spend.

It’s hot in Kalaoa, so club members tend to prefer light, fruity beers over dark beers. 

steve balzer stirring.JPEG
Balzer stirring and brewing a microbatch of beer.

The best part about my job is I can brew whatever I like. We mostly create beers that are around 6.2% alcohol. IPA sells well on the island, as does rosé beer and other fruity variations. I’m currently working on a spiked apple cider beer – Belgian double style. I plan to ferment it with apple juice. I also have oak chips soaking in rum, which I’ll add to the beer when aging for a rich flavor. 

During the hot months, I also have seltzers on hand. I fought this craze for so long, but eventually I had to give the people what they want, which is seltzers and rosé beer. 

Since we’re a microbrewery attached to the resort, I often chat with members, ask their opinions, and listen to their requests of what they’d like to drink. I’m open to brewing anything and everything, as long as I know it will work.

Working in a small brewery, I’m also able to turn over funky ideas quickly. In corporate brewing you have to make a certain number of kegs for that one beer, but here I can make just one keg of a beer before moving onto another to keep it varied. 

I can also more easily work with different yeasts. In a corporate environment, brewers are held to a style of yeast in-house, but here, I can make small batches with different yeasts. I don’t even need to use the same yeast again.

Coming from the mainland US, I’ve experienced new challenges while brewing in Hawaii.

A challenge I’ve faced with brewing on the island is water quality. I’ve lived in places where the water quality is good, but here, the water is littered with sodium. I use reverse-osmosis water from nearby Kona, to which I add calcium, magnesium, and other elements to get the flavor profile I want. 

Another difference of brewing on the island compared to the mainland is access to local exotic fruits. The club has an onsite biodynamic community farm, and my friend also has a family farm where I can visit and buy different fruits. Anytime I need inspiration or want to see what fruits are available, I’ll go directly to the farm, try different fruits, and instantly think of new beers to make. I allow the flavors and fruits to guide me, rather than creating a recipe and not having the right ingredients to carry it out.

As the island began welcoming back visitors and members around October when the pre-testing COVID travel program started, I began preparing for events. We held Oktoberfest, but instead of the usual German lagers, I also showcased different German beers to introducing unique styles of German alcohol to club members. 

We’ve also recently opened to “meet the brewer” events. I show the members what I do and teach them about beer, from the specifics of the brewing process to the variety of flavor profiles. We also do a tasting, where they can try all the different types of beers we have on tap.

As a master brewer at a micro-brewery, I can merge brewing with business ideas.

The brewery is near the 18th hole of the resort’s golf course, so when I first joined Kohanaiki I thought it would be great to set up space for golfers to have a pour after their game. We began offering this last year after reopening, and now guest golfers can watch sports, have a beer, play darts, or just sit and socialize. 

Recently, I’ve been thinking of brewing a Mexican mocha. Think spicy, locally brewed coffee, and a touch of lactose for a darker side beer. There’s also a champagne-style beer in the works. I’m looking to incorporate grapes, so it would be a base beer with half grapes. 

I have many ideas and time to explore them. It’s just one of the many perks of working at a private microbrewery.

Natasha Bazika is a freelance writer currently based in Sydney. She has contributed to CNN Travel, Architectural Digest, Housebeautiful, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, and more. Follow her adventures on Instagram

Read the original article on Business Insider

I’ve helped over 3,000 clients plan elaborate marriage proposals. The most expensive proposal so far was on a private island and cost over $100,000.

Pics and Petals in NYC
A flower-filled proposal in New York City.

I’ve always been someone who likes a challenge. I started my company right after graduating college in 2008, when I was only 22 years old. 

It wasn’t an ideal economy to be looking for a job or launching a brand new business – most people were just trying to keep their jobs – but personally I’ve found that  if you really believe in what you’re offering and are also meeting a need, then it can work. 

Heather Vaughn Headshot  Founder of The Yes Girls
TYG founder Heather Vaughn.

Around this time, I came up with an idea of a marriage proposal business. I always loved hearing people’s proposal stories, but felt like given the resources and time, they probably could’ve come up with something better and more unique. I realized there wasn’t a business that offered great proposal planning like this, so it was the lightbulb moment for me, so I founded The Yes Girls.

We create a personalized proposal for each client.

Madison Ellis Photography.JPG
Flowers and a fluffy rug for a boat proposal.

I’m very passionate about my proposals and adamant about giving clients an experience that’s personal and customized to their relationship. Each of our clients builds out a relationship assessment questionnaire so we can get to know them as a couple. This is what really inspires the ideas. 

We work with a network of vendors and small businesses to create the proposal event. I love that we get to support other small businesses in this work  including florists, photographers, venues, and even Etsy shops. I love my team of five – you can’t do this work without a good team. We were already set up as a remote company pre-pandemic, so we have that system down.

The company mainly works within the US, but does occasionally plan an international proposal or vow renewal.  

As a team, we’re all very particular with the details. We handle the timeline and contact with the vendors to make sure we’re on the same page, and put together a floor plan so everyone can see exactly how it’s going to be set up following the client’s vision. We also FaceTime the vendors the day of to make sure everything is set up correctly. 

We’ve successfully planned over 3,000 proposals.

Janet Jarchow photography
A beachside proposal.

As more of a boutique, luxury focused service, we don’t necessarily plan 20 events each month because we’re really focused on creating a higher-end quality event that can speak to each couple’s love story well – and we want to make sure we’re giving them the time and personalized service they deserve.  

I’ll always remember my first planned proposal. It was for a client who reached out to me about a week after I first launched my website.

The proposal was in Napa Valley, California, at the stunning Domaine Carneros Winery. We made it a surprise under the ruse of doing  a private tasting and tour. When the couple walked out onto the balcony, there was a sweet setup there with a private bistro table and chairs, a floral arrangement in her favorite flowers, photos of the couple, a pair of wine tasting glasses, and a personalized rose bush to keep and plant in their garden to signify their next big milestone – their engagement. 

This was all set up on a private balcony at the winery overlooking the stunning backdrop of the valley and vineyards. It was so much fun and turned out amazing. I still have the email he sent thanking me when everything was done, I kept it as my motivation that I was doing the right thing starting this business. 

My biggest challenge has been finding and marketing to a niche clientele.

ashley burns photography
A sun-filled summer with a gazebo backdrop.

Over the years I’ve realized that I can’t help everyone and that my service isn’t necessarily for everyone. Whether I’m planning a $50,000 dollar proposal or a $1,000 dollar proposal, it can take almost the same amount of time and energy. It was more important to find my own market and the right kind of clientele.

Even though we’re in such a happy industry, we do feel a customer service-style role, so it’s important to spot the red flags with potential clients.

I’ve never had anyone say “no,” but we did have an incident where the girl being proposed to was hiding because she was so anxious about public displays of affection. We told our client to give her time until she was comfortable coming back out and there were less people around. 

Another challenge is because historically 90% of our clients are male, they can be more “last minute” and don’t leave as much time for planning – so we have some very quick turnarounds. 

We’ve planned a proposal in just one day – but we typically don’t do that anymore, because it can be too stressful. We can plan it within one week’s time, but typically we prepare to plan one to two months in advance. 

Still, we have organized a few proposals for women clients, sometimes proposing to male partners and other times to women partners. 

For the most part, the proposals are a surprise and only one member of the couple is involved in the planning.

Jessica Rice Photography Newport Beach CA
Butterflies decorate a proposal in Newport Beach, California.

I had one request for a co-planning situation, and we didn’t do it because it didn’t seem on-point with what we want to do as a company. 

I know it sounds cliche, but I always say my favorite proposal is whichever one we’re currently working on, because each is  always new and different. Anything that’s really creative and fun to plan is right up my ally.

We’ve planned some really high-end proposals – some that we haven’t been able to share online due to privacy requests – but our most expensive was over $100,000. 

It was on a private island off of Charleston, South Carolina where the gentleman flew in over 30 members of his closest family and friends on a private jet. We did a full-blown engagement party afterward, so it was a “proposal meets engagement party” all-in-one experience. She was really surprised, and it was gorgeous – like something out of a Nicholas Sparks movie, complete with a private villa and a boardwalk right up to the beach. 

We also want to help relationships beyond proposals, and ensure these couples are staying connected in their relationship throughout. I love it when we get to plan events like vow renewals, and re-proposals which is when someone maybe didn’t get to plan a proposal the first time or wants a luxury re-do. 

It’s great to support couples who want to refresh and reset their intentions and commitment to one another. We had a really amazing one where the client was upgrading his wife’s wedding ring, so he decided to re-propose in St. Barth’s, which turned into a full-blown vow renewal. 

As a business owner, I’m always setting new goals. I’m very future-oriented and definitely want to expand the company. I’d say my ultimate goal is to become the No. 1 romantic event planning company in the US. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

How I used YouTube and email to market my candle-making course and bring in $40,000 in one month

Tiana Coates
Tiana Coates is a small business owner and entrepreneur.

  • Tiana Coates is an entrepreneur and owner of Winding Wick Candles based in Garland, Texas.
  • In 2020, Coates made over $70,000 from selling her online candle-making business course, including $40,000 in just one month. 
  • Here’s how she developed, produced, and marketed the course, as told to freelance writer Kaila Yu. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

I always wanted the freedom of running my own business. Ten years before becoming an entrepreneur, I worked at the desk as a pharmacy technician. In my free time I would always tinker with business ideas: dropshipping, selling items on Shopify, hand-making trinkets, but none of them ever panned out.  

In a spark of inspiration, I came up with the idea of hand-making candles. It made perfect sense, I loved candles and would buy them every week for my home. I had zero experience so I started researching on online forums, blogs, and YouTube. The candle-making process seemed straightforward on the tutorials that I watched, but it took me several months of trial and error to get my candles to burn correctly and hold their scent.

I first launched Winding Wick Candles in 2015 but had to shut it down just one year later in 2016. The business wasn’t making much money, I was still working my day job, and I’d just given birth to my first child. I was totally overwhelmed.

The Strawberry Shortcake candle 4
The Strawberry Shortcake candle.

But as time went by, I missed running my own business. I gave a lot of thought to how I would run the company differently the next time, so in 2018, I relaunched Winding Wick Candles. Luckily, I still had all of my supplies from back when I first launched in 2015. I only had to spend about $300 or so to purchase new wax, containers, and fragrances. 

I worked around the clock to relaunch my candle business. 

Back then, I was just working part time on weekends so I had time during the week to dedicate to my business. I would put in 12 to 16 hours a day creating products and working on my Etsy and Shopify sites. During the weekends, I worked 12-hour shifts in a pharmacy hospital.

There were a few major changes this time around – I changed the candle style that I was producing, I launched a YouTube channel, and I learned more about search engine optimization so I could increase organic traffic to my products through search. 

First, my new line of candles was much more decorative in style, featuring hand-molded, realistic fruit accents.

The Fruit Cocktail candle 2
The Fruit Cocktail candle.

Second, I launched a YouTube channel to document the entire process of revamping the business. I filmed videos speaking candidly about why I thought my candle business had failed the first time around. Additionally, I shared tips on how I was changing and pivoting. 

I also shared big wins, such as Etsy flying me to New York in November 2019 to visit their headquarters and getting accepted to the Walmart Marketplace in October 2020. The Walmart marketplace allows for customers to purchase my products on Walmart.com. I’m also able to send my products to a Walmart approved distribution center so I can have the ‘2-day delivery’ badge on my items. I hoped sharing these experiences would help my followers feel like they are on this entrepreneurship journey with me. 

Back in 2018, my YouTube channel was one of the only that covered the very specific niche of running a candle-making business. Since then, I’ve grown to over 35,000 subscribers. 

YouTube was an integral tool for growing my business and later marketing my online course.

Tiana Coates
Coates says she worked to grow her YouTube channel by posting consistently and connecting with viewers.

I knew my channel wouldn’t be an overnight success, so I was fine with getting few views in the beginning. I learned that as long as you provide genuinely helpful content and work to improve the quality of your videos, your channel will grow.

A few months after launching the YouTube channel, I also created a free, downloadable lead magnet on MailChimp to collect email subscribers, called ‘How to Start a Candle Business.’ It was very popular and by 2020, my mailing list had grown to 11,000 subscribers. 

About a year after I launched the YouTube channel, I noticed that I was getting a ton of emails with questions ranging from how to make candles to how to get traffic. Since I had already done a lot of trial and error with growing my own business, I saw an opportunity to create an online course.  After doing some market research, I found that there weren’t any other candle business courses available. I saw the gap in the market and recognized the opportunity to jump on it. 

I wanted to make sure to validate the idea before starting any work, so I held a webinar in January 2020 to share my idea about launching the course. To gauge interest, I offered a discounted rate for the class if they signed up at the end of the webinar. Ten students signed up, and I moved forward with producing the course.

Developing the first course was a lot of work.

The cinnamon bun candle. 1
The Cinnamon Bun candle.

I filmed and edited about 23 hours of content by myself and learned how to structure the course. I launched Candle Biz Academy in February 2020, right before the pandemic. The first launch made over $10,000 in one week, with a total of 30 students signing up. The second launch in June made nearly $20,000, and the third and biggest launch was in December, making around $40,000 in 10 days.

The course costs $365, and teaches everything from making your first candle, to starting an Etsy store, to more advanced topics like doing wholesale and marketing online. 

Once students are signed up, they can watch the video modules at their own pace, and it takes an average of three months to complete the course. During that time, I’m available on live video biweekly to answer any questions. Students also have access to a community on Kajabi, the platform that hosts my course, where they can crowdsource answers to their questions. 

Since the course was fully recorded, I can easily relaunch Candle Biz Academy several times throughout the year. Between programs last year, I built up a waitlist of students interested in the next course launch. It’s currently available three times a year and students have a 10-day window to sign up before I close enrollment. 

I don’t use any marketing efforts besides my YouTube channel and mailing list. 

The course has doubled in revenue every time I relaunched it. After the launch of the second course, I was finally able to leave my day job. 

As for my candle business, I also saw positive sales growth during the pandemic. Although there was an initial downturn in March, overall sales in 2020 were higher than in 2019.

Due to this success, I also hired my first employee in January 2021. She’s currently learning candle making in a nearby rented studio so I can focus on running the course.

My advice to entrepreneurs looking to launch their own course is: Don’t be afraid to charge for what you know. 

If you know you’re an expert and talented at something, be confident of your worth. Expert knowledge is priceless. Also, don’t be afraid to create multiple streams of income outside of your handmade business.

The next project I’m working on is a peer-to-peer marketplace where crafters can sell unused or slightly used craft supplies. Due to the pandemic, there have been many shortages for candle makers, so I think it’s a great time to test this idea.

The journey to entrepreneurship isn’t always easy. Many times I’ve questioned whether I should keep going or if I should give it all up. The mental part of it has been the most difficult part for me, but if you can overcome that, I sincerely believe that anyone can launch their dream business.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I made $490,000 launching a maternity clothing brand during the pandemic. I also experienced a personal loss. Here’s what it taught me.

Elle Wang
“When nothing seemed to be going my way, I learned to pivot,” says founder Elle Wang.

  • Elle Wang is the founder and creative director of New York-based clothing brand Emilia George.
  • She was working full-time from home, caring for her toddler, and running her clothing business at night in early 2020.
  • After a miscarriage in June, Wang says she made changes to her strained schedule to prioritize her health.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

I first had the urge to create high-end maternity workwear when I was seven months pregnant in February 2019. I was working full-time, and felt simply pushed over the edge by the uncomfortable clothing I wore to work everyday – the first thing I did when I got home was get naked. 

Elle Wang
Models wearing dresses from the Emilia George Debut Collection.

I’d always enjoyed fashion and would go to fashion week shows when I had a chance, but I had zero background, contacts, or training in clothing and design. Since I had no idea how to draw, I worked with several independent designers to create maternity collections.

After giving birth and spending months turning my idea into a reality, we officially launched Emilia George on December 10, 2019. 

A few months later, COVID-19 hit.

I had barely introduced my business to potential customers across Manhattan. My husband and I had to quickly pull our child out of daycare and began working from home for our full-time jobs.

Soon, I began receiving emails from production partners and fabrics suppliers saying they’d be closed for the unforeseen future. Promising retailer partners told me that all new brand onboarding had to stop. 

At the same time, I was taking care of our 1-year-old son in a city filled with sirens and horrific numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths. It took a toll on me, and I wanted to quit many times. 

When nothing seemed to be going my way, I learned to pivot.

As I bootstrapped my business, production partners closed and major retailers barely stayed afloat. I had enough reasons to shut down Emilia George over and over again once the pandemic began, but I didn’t. 

Instead, I cut down costs by completely halting digital marketing spend on Facebook and Instagram. The only partner I kept was my PR team, who proved instrumental in driving brand awareness during such a strange time. 

When we entered April 2020, we decided to make face masks to help alleviate the shortening supply. The launch was covered by sites like Vogue and Elle, and soon we were flooded with orders. We sold over $40,000 worth of masks alone in May. 

In June, the National Institutes of Health asked us to make customized masks for their employees – one of which Dr. Anthony Fauci wore at a Senate hearing in September. 

fauci nih
Dr. Fauci wearing the mask made by Emilia George in September 2020.

While it helps to be a lean startup, being a one-woman show came with hardships.

After we began working from home, my husband and I had planned to conceive again. But we weren’t prepared to do our jobs while taking care of our toddler full-time from home. Being the founder and CEO of a new one-woman startup was exhausting on top of childcare, and my day job being a partnerships and strategy advisor at the United Nations.

Most days, it was only after 7 p.m. that I finally had big chunks of time to work on Emilia George, from fulfilling orders to talking to my production partners and suppliers in Asia. At the height of the pandemic, I often had to fill orders until 1 or 2 a.m. before I could even think about going to bed. 

My production partners overseas in Italy and China often asked me if I ever slept. I did – just not that much. For a good few months, I was only sleeping for around four hours a night. 

I had a miscarriage in June.

I always wondered if my crazy work hours and stress had caused it. When I got pregnant again a couple of months later, my husband and I were determined to make changes to better safeguard our health needs as a family.

Elle Wang
Wang’s baby’s gender reveal Zoom party during quarantine.

We found a live-in nanny to help with childcare and hired additional team members to help with Emilia George’s operations. Now, we have a team of six awesome women, and are continuing to grow.

As my accountant was about to close the books for 2020 – Emilia George’s very first year – I noticed our gross revenue: over $490,000. To make sure my being 29 weeks pregnant hadn’t resulted in some numerical error, I double checked with her. It was true: I’d made nearly half a million dollars from launching a pregnancy clothing line during COVID-19, all with a toddler at home and a baby on the way, not to mention while managing a full-time job.

While I was surprised and happy by this success, I knew it came as a result of countless hours of behind-the-scenes work and dedication that was far from easy.

I’ve learned the best thing I can do to support other entrepreneurial women is to share my story.

Elle Wang
Wang’s son at Emilia George’s new HQ in Tribeca.

I understand the work and perseverance it takes to grow a startup as a working mom. So many people have fantastic ideas, but finding that initial investment can be incredibly daunting. When it comes down to it, the better connected we are, the more we can do. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I help Hermès collectors buy and sell used Birkin bags. They’re almost impossible to get in stores, but I’ve sold nearly $2 million worth through eBay and online.

Hermes So Black 28cm Box Calf Feather Kelly Rigid.JPG
“It’s a handbag, a piece of art, and an investment all rolled into one,” says Caroline Bui, aka The Birkin Fairy.

  • Caroline Bui is the founder and owner of ‘The Birkin Fairy,’ a luxury consignment shop for Hermès products.
  • After working at Hermès for 12 years, she launched the online shop and has since sold nearly $2 million of used Hermès items. 
  • This is her story, as told to freelance writer Jenny Powers.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

It was 1984 when Hermès debuted The Birkin Bag, a handcrafted leather carryall featuring two sturdy top handles and a lock and key closure to ensure all of the bag’s contents remained inside the bag. At the time, the bag, named for British actress and singer Jane Birkin, retailed for approximately $2,000 to $3,000. 

The Birkin Bag would one day become the most sought after bag in the world, a status symbol creating legions of fans and spurring a years-long waiting list of eager buyers from around the globe willing to pay five to six figures for a single bag.

I’ve been interested in fashion since I was a child.

I spent many summers accompanying my grandmother to local garage sales. Born in 1920 and having survived the Great Depression, my grandmother was understandably frugal and recognized the value in good quality objects. 

Caroline Bui  Hermes
Bui holding Hermès bags.

We would sift through items in search of jewelry and pottery that she would later resell for a higher price at her own garage sale. She was an incredible salesperson, and while I didn’t realize it at the time, these experiences taught me the joy and exhilaration of the hunt which would later define my interest in collectible objects that retain or gain value. 

When I turned 17, I spent the summer living in New York City studying fashion illustration and draping at Parsons School of Design. Upon graduating high school, I went on to The Art Institute of Chicago where I earned a BFA while working in sales at Chicago’s newly opened Ralph Lauren store.

Diploma in hand, I returned to New York in 1999 taking on a series of fashion editorial-related jobs at Conde Nast rotating between Mademoiselle, Self, and Allure before moving on back to retail. 

I fell in love with the social component of fashion while working in retail.

While I became accustomed to being surrounded by luxury products, what really fueled my interest in fashion was engaging with customers and helping them find what they wanted. In 2001, I decided I wanted to return home to Chicago and so I requested a job transfer to the location where I’d initially worked.

The following year, I took a sales position at Hermès.

Back then there were only eight of us in the Chicago store, and we were each assigned an area of specialty. Mine was leather goods and scarves – not because I possessed any special knowledge in those areas, but simply because that was the section that needed to be filled at the time. 

As part of my training, I was invited to travel to Paris where I had the opportunity to meet with the craftsman, tour the distribution facilities, and pay a visit to the Hermès Museum, a venue exclusively reserved for staff and select guests. My new work aligned perfectly with my art history background and for me, every transaction was like selling a piece of art. 

Over the years, I assisted thousands of customers and sold countless Birkin Bags.

In fact, one of my longtime customers who was a collector referred to me as “The Birkin Fairy” or “Fairy” for short because my position allowed me to grant Hermès wishes.  

Everyone knows that getting your hands on a Birkin Bag of your own is no easy task. Demand surpasses supply. It takes 48 hours to handcraft a single bag and production is limited. 

Caroline Bui Hermes
A pile of boxed Hermès products in Bui’s home.

It’s almost impossible to be able to walk into a store and buy a Birkin off the shelf. You can put in a request for one, but no one knows how long you’ll be waiting. They’ve even placed a limit on how many Birkins a client may purchase each year. All of these factors have caused a thriving resale market.

Even after working at Hermès for 10 years, I had to get special permission from the powers that be to buy one for myself as a gift when my daughter was born in 2011. A few years later, I managed to acquire a second, less expensive one for $3,000 as part of an employee sale of handbags that do not pass the company’s quality standards and are therefore only offered to employees.

By 2013, I was a married mother of two and wanted to spend more time at home with my family.

In search of more flexibility, I began interviewing at other companies, but when a longstanding client asked if I could help her sell 20 pieces of her Hermès collection, I decided to go out on my own in a different direction.

In 2014, I set up shop from a tiny desk in my bedroom. I invested $2,000 to buy a domain name, build a website, and secure a few basic supplies before officially launching The Birkin Fairy, a secondary luxury marketplace selling pre-owned Hermès products.

The first bag I sold was an orange Birkin that at the time was nine years old. My client originally paid $6,600 for it in 2005, and it sold for $8,700 in 2014.

Hermes Orange 35cm Birkin in Epsom Leather with Gold Hardware. Caroline Bui
This orange bag is the first Birkin Bui sold as The Birkin Fairy.

To date, I’ve sold nearly $2 million of Hermes products online through my website and Ebay.  I sell all items on consignment, brokering transactions on behalf of my clients for a commission ranging anywhere from 18 to 30%. 

All my business is via word of mouth – I’ve never spent a dollar on customer acquisition.

I’m truly a one-woman operation from photographing products to acquiring and selling merchandise to shipping to social media, where I have over 81,000 organic Instagram followers.

Before COVID-19, I traveled across the country to meet with sellers, helping them do everything from evaluate their inventory and determine what they’d like to sell to help them authenticate, organize, and care for their items. One of my clients in Los Angeles wound up having $505,000 worth of Hermès handbags sitting in her closet and after reevaluating the contents, we ended up selling $50,000 worth of handbags and acquiring six new pieces for $98,000. 

My site has featured everything from a well-worn Birkin that sold for $8,000 to the $150,000 So Black feather Kelly Bag that I have up for sale right now, which is only one of two bags ever made.

While I have worked with some celebrities, most of my clients are just regular folks with amazing closets.

The resale market for Birkin Bags has always been robust.

This is because there is so much more inventory online and it’s readily available – for a price. The pandemic has driven more interested buyers online and helped grow my business due to inventory shortages, production delays, and store closures. 

One study from 2017 revealed that over 35 years, the value of Birkin bags rose 500%, with an annual increase of 14%. When you buy a Ferrari and drive it off the lot, it immediately loses value. When you take a Birkin Bag home, depending on how rare it is and how it’s maintained, it has the potential to increase in value. It’s a handbag, a piece of art, and an investment all rolled into one.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I’m a butler for wealthy NYC families who earns a six-figure salary and has lots of time to see my kids. From checking for dust with a flashlight to taking wine cellar inventory, this is what my job is like.

Stanley (not his real name) has been a professional butler and house manager for 12 years.
Stanley (not his real name) has been a professional butler and house manager for 12 years.

  • Stanley (not his real name) is a house manager and butler for wealthy families in New York City.
  • His job involves everything from organizing bills and tracking charitable donations to taking wine cellar inventory and making sure everything inch of his employer’s home is spotless and dust-free.
  • Over the years, he’s had both good and bad employers, including one who would constantly fire and rehire him and another who would yell across the house and snap his fingers to get Stanley’s attention.
  • Despite the long hours and repetitive tasks, Stanley says he enjoys his work and has learned to set healthy boundaries with his employers.
  • Here’s what his job is like, as told to freelance writer Rose Maura Lorre.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Like many people who work in hospitality or the private services industry, I started out as an actor. And like many actors, I made a choice to stop acting because it was driving me nuts.

My wife was reading Tina Fey’s “Bossypants at the time and in the book, Tina Fey talks about “fake it ’til you make it.” That’s what I did: I acted the part of a house manager until I figured out how to be one. It just takes a little bit of observational skills and people skills and a good memory.

After I left acting, I first went into events and catering and worked my way up. While managing a big charity event in 2009, I met a project manager who introduced me to an ultra-high net worth (UHNW) family. The husband was in finance, the wife was an ex-bartender, and they had twin 4-year-olds, a dog, a pot belly pig, and a 20,000-square-foot townhouse. They hired me as a house manager and personal assistant, my first job in the industry. Those clients were a wild ride, real tabloid-gossip stuff. 

When the wife had an issue with how I handled something, she would just fire me. 

Then as I was walking to the subway or during my cab ride home, she would call me, apologize, and say she’d see me tomorrow. That happened four times in less than six months. 

The last time she fired me, I made sure everything was in order, put her folder with her schedule for the following day on her desk as usual, quietly grabbed my coat, and left. Like she’d done in the past, I quickly got the apology call. When she said, “See you on Monday,” I said, “Why don’t we let this one stick?” That Monday, I still got a few calls and texts from her, but I didn’t pick up.

I’ve worked for six different families over 10 years. 

Two of them, including that first family I worked for, were roller coaster rides – and short contracts because of that. Two were trial periods, after which I passed on their employment offers, and two have been better, long-term experiences.

The other “roller coaster” employer I worked for was similarly demanding, with an extremely busy and packed schedule. He was also a yeller; he would always holler my name. When he’d snap his fingers or yell, it was like somebody had shot a gun off in the house, and everyone would jump to attention. 

Once, I walked into his coat closet after he’d pulled all of his coats off the racks. He’d made separate piles of coats, and I assumed he  wanted me to do a seasonal switch-out for him. I dashed into the room with a smile on my face and said, “How can I help, Mr. So-and-So?” He looked at me and said, “What the f–k are you smiling at?” 

But besides those particular clients, many of my employers have been great to work with. I’ve also kept in touch with former fellow staff members, and some of them have interviewed me for other jobs.

Read more: I’m a mom influencer who earns up to $12,000 a month through paid sponsorships. Here’s how I grew my income and following while caring for my son.

I currently work for an older couple, and it’s the best version of this job I’ve ever had.

Rose Maura Lorre butler
Checking for moisture and leaks in the basement.

I joined their household in January 2020. I work Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Before the pandemic, my hours were longer if my employers were entertaining guests. I wear business casual, and add a sport coat or blazer over my outfit for guests. 

Since March, my employers have been in the Hamptons while I continue to care for their Manhattan townhouse and ship over any packages they receive there. When they’re out of town, I usually just wear jeans and a sweater or collared shirt.

Currently, the staff at my employers’ Manhattan townhouse consists of me, three housekeepers, and a driver. I contract outside vendors for IT, audio, gardening, and a wide array of specific maintenance for furnishings and antiques in the house. We also have a maintenance contract with a company who takes care of the house, but I troubleshoot little things like loose door handles, dead lightbulbs, and updating iPads and printer firmware.

My position has been called everything from house manager to property manager to butler. 

When I described myself as a property manager, I’d hear, “Oh, you cut lawns?” If instead I say “butler,” people tend to romanticize what I do, like it’s “Downton Abbey” or “Remains of the Day.” I did once work in a household where I was their formal butler, and received guests in a black dinner jacket or a tuxedo. But I’ve also cleaned toilets, which is not romantic at all. 

For the most part in this industry, people refer to their employers as “principals.” Meaning, that person is your principal focus. There may be other people you cater to as well, like guests who stay at the house, but the principal is your main focus. 

One family I worked for had a house staff of 38 people. In my job as personal butler, I worked most closely with the head of house, the principal client, assisting with wardrobe, packing, communications, setting up and serving meals, and running in-house events. 

In my current job as a house manager, it’s my responsibility to manage my employers’ expectations about what goes on in their home. 

My job is to think proactively about what they’ll need and to avoid leaving anything open to complaints. If they’re talking to me – other than, for example, to tell me what they want for dinner – then I’m not doing my job. If their iPad isn’t connecting to the WiFi or the TV isn’t working in the gym, I haven’t done my job.

Rose Maura Lorre butler
Checking that the TV in the house gym is in working order.

I do a lot of walk-throughs to make sure everything is in working condition. I turn TVs on and off at least once and sometimes twice a day. I also check all the lights, music, technology, and appliances. I sit down on the couch and look around, and think: Does everything look the way it’s supposed to look? Does it feel the way it’s supposed to feel? Is this TV working the way it’s supposed to work? Are there fingerprints on the table? Has the housekeeping staff dusted and moved the remote too far from the couch? 

I’m not getting into my boss’ bed or trying out the sheets, but I do try to put myself in my employers’ experience. It’s the same thing I did in catering; I put myself in the guests’ shoes. 

The gentleman I currently work for loves wine and keeps a modest stash at the house (about 300 bottles) with more in a wine storage warehouse, so I track arrivals and consumption and inventory what goes between their Manhattan and Hamptons homes. 

Rose Maura Lorre butler
Taking inventory in the wine cellar.

I use spreadsheets to pay bills, file invoices and documents, and track everything from orders and shipments to various house inventories to gifts given and received, which can get quite complicated during the holidays with gifts and charitable donations.

I go over the house with a fine-toothed comb on an almost daily basis.   

I check all areas for wear and tear, potential repairs, and moisture and leaks to catch any issues before they grow serious. 

For cleanliness checks, I do walk-throughs in the dark with a flashlight to pick up on hidden moisture and dust. I also have an LED light that also picks up on dust you can’t see with the naked eye, like fingerprints or dog hair on the landing.

Rose Maura Lorre butler
Conducting a house walk through with a flashlight to check for dust.

I take pictures of what I find to send to the housekeeper. I’ve also given them LED flashlights, so I can write “hello” in the dust I find and text them, “Go look for my ‘hello’ on the table.” The housekeepers I work with are great. If I show them a picture of something, they know exactly where it is to clean it.

Rose Maura Lorre butler
Taking a photo to send to the housekeepers of smudges on the mirror in the backyard.

The woman I work for also has an entirely separate townhouse around the corner that serves as her office. I go there to pick up things for her, check on the building, and sometimes assist with art hanging or putting together furniture. I also pick up flowers for the house, run to stationery stores and to the bank for house petty cash, and trek to FedEx and UPS on the regular to ship and pick up packages.

This all may sound intense, but it’s not my employers; I’m the over-the-top one. I’ve relaxed over the years in my own home, especially after having two children of my own. Still, I would follow my kids around with a Dustbuster if I could – that’s just how I am.

I typically make six figures annually with a bonus and benefits.

Since my first position in 2009, my salary hasn’t increased that much over the years, but the hours have decreased. I started at 60 to 70 hours per week on average, I’m doing more like 45 to 50 now, which is a huge positive difference to my quality of life. 

When I first started at $100,000 in 2009, my hourly rate was sometimes $9, especially during the holidays. Back then, I only saw my wife at night. Now, I spend more time with my kids than ever before.

I learned early on that in this line of work, you have to be good at setting boundaries.

My current employers are very friendly and very considerate of the staff, but still, I maintain a professional boundary. I don’t want to be too involved in my employers’ lives. There are some situations where I have to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t get that involved.” 

Certain things I’m very willing to do and other things I’m not. For example, I’ve never stayed the night at an employer’s house. I was asked to do it once, a couple of households ago. Their live-in housekeeper was going away on vacation and I think just for security and peace of mind, my employers wanted me there in her place. I said, “I don’t think my wife would really appreciate that.”

Read more: I’m 23 and launched a luxury picnic service in the middle of the pandemic – and while working full-time. Here’s how we make up to $12,000 a month throwing personalized events.

At my job, sometimes the most satisfying day can also be the most aggravating. 

This job presents daily challenges, such as one time when a bird swooped into my employer’s glass atrium as we were setting it up for a business lunch, and it took us five attempts with ladders to catch down and release it. Those experiences are all in a day’s work.

The way I think about my job is, it’s like any other job, only I’m standing in my boss’ private living room while I’m doing it. Or I’m literally standing in their kitchen watching them eat. Most of these people are used to having someone stand there, though, so it’s not weird for them, and by now, it’s also not weird for me. 

Managing wealthy homes is a great job, but it isn’t for everyone.

My advice for anyone thinking about getting into this line of work is to hop on LinkedIn and see if you can talk to house managers. Ask questions about the schedule they keep, pros and cons about the job, and find out if this lifestyle is for you.

There hotel and butler schools for training and certification programs, and estatejobs.com is also a good place to start. Still, be careful of programs that only feed into a pool for a domestic agency that charges steep commissions for job placement fees; some can be 40% of your annual salary. 

For this line of work, you need the ability to manage expectations and communicate well and sometimes delicately with your employers, staff, and anyone else working inside the house. It’s a great career, just know that once you’re hired, you’re somewhat tethered to your employer like no other industry, since you become part of their private life. Know the stakes, and be empowered to create the boundaries that you need. 

Read the original article on Business Insider