Spotlight on Tiny Businesses


Words || Sara Zarriello

In our current predicament, we’ve been forced the opportunity (if you will) of getting to know ourselves better. Where and how we stand in our labour economies is determined by numerous variables. The relationship between employers and workers has become for many, restrictive. At least pre-pandemic we had some sort of illusionary safety net holding the actions of ourselves and our employers accountable. Now the workforce has turned into a warzone. No one is secure when a literal worldwide epidemic rips through the hierarchical structures of our working society. Everyone is scared. Now is our collective fight or flight response. 

Some of the worst affected have been small businesses. I don’t have to remind you of the numerous store closures, not to mention the consistent jerking around; opening up when the case numbers are low and shutting up shop when they rise. Hit hard by wage cuts, workers are seeking other means of income outside their average shift work from 9-5. They are doing so through commodifying their hobbies. 

In conversation with tiny (for now) business owners and sisters, Hale and Ayla Yuyucuoglu, they tell me how they took their leisure activities and turned them into profitable side hustles. 

Hale began creating her embroidery art pieces after a co-worker had asked her about what she did for fun during her free time.

“I had to stop and think about it for a while, and that made me so upset.” 

In a buzzing world full of distractions she realised that investing time in herself through art was what brought her joy. 

“So I went to Spotlight… [bought] myself an [embroidery] starter pack… I taught myself.” 

Cut to the creation of Milk The Art, an Etsy shop where she was first able to showcase and sell her pieces. 

It is clear to see that even though we weren’t prepared for a pandemic, social media was. Owner of Art by Ayla, Ayla explains the benefits of using Instagram as a platform to sell her earrings. 

“It’s been really easy… there’s so much communication. If you post something, people will share what they think…” 

The interactions she has had over Instagram have worked in her favour. Through likes and comments, a pattern of what her audience wants to see more of leads to the creation of sought after pieces, “… you can see [what’s] visually pleasing to them.” 

The advantage is obvious when you produce visually stimulating creations on a platform that runs on visual stimulation. Using the power of the eye and pairing that with a passion for your work on an interactive platform online, during a pandemic is the recipe for tiny business success.

A portfolio career like this is one in which a resume spans multiple roles within varied fields, sometimes opposite fields, taking on “a bit of this and that” in its stride. A dedicated, passionate person usually undertakes this style of labour, a person who does not fear a certain level of instability. The constant swapping between polar opposite work, juggling multiple jobs at a single time is, to say the least, impressive. It needs to be stressed that anyone from any walk of life can pursue this type of work. Obviously, a person’s individual socioeconomic stance factors into this decision, and whether it is one made out of necessity or choice. Covid-19 has decommissioned many out of choice.

The advantage of this career type is the freedom given to those who risk it for the biscuit. The freedom to chase a lifelong passion or dream, or simply the freedom to choose how you wish to spend your time. 

“It started as a hobby and it’s turned into a small business,” Ayla states. Yet even with a smoothly running side hustle, both sisters started and continue to run their businesses with the same motto – do it for the love of it. 

Ayla continues, “The process of making… art… it’s a time for me. The fact that I can just post it and people liking that – it’s like a bonus on top of that. It’s a bonus to sell.” 

Hale adds, “I’m a massive people pleaser. So for me, making it and knowing it’s going to someone who’s going to hang it on their wall and think of my business – that’s amazing.” 

At the end of the day, if Covid-19 has taught us anything yet, it’s that now is the time to do whatever you’ve been wanting to do. No holding back. Otherwise you’ll be stuck in a moment when we thought time wasn’t a luxury.