Student scrambles are on the rise, with markets selling handmade goods in backyards, unused warehouses and on college campuses across the country.
Students also use social media to attract online sales of jewelry, art, photography, and clothing.
Tui Lou Christie, a fourth-year creative writing student and part-time proofreader, has been selling recycled clothing as ‘Okey Dokey’ in Wellington markets since last year.
“I work part-time, and I work part-time in the company, and I study part-time. Normally I work three days a week, then two days a week I study, then the rest of the the time of my evenings, I will only sew.”
For Christie, it’s a passion project, and she said she’s lucky her income from the markets is in excess of the cost of living.
“Usually it would just be rent and food and that kind of stuff, so anytime I have a good market, it’s kind of nice to be able to take that money and spend it on something fun.”
She bears basic costs by living a 45-minute bus ride from campus, but said she was in a much more comfortable position than many of her peers with more expensive rent.
Rosie Carroll is also familiar with the drive to earn a little extra – she started a second-hand clothes market in Christchurch called the Nifty Markets to make it easier for young people to hustle.
Many of his merchants are students, and Carroll has seen a number of them turn their love of operational shopping into a steady source of income.
“They start off as a creative outlet, something fun, and then it becomes a part-time job, or a second part-time job,” she said.
The popularity of the market has increased – the newest saw merchants and customers fill a large warehouse.
But with increasing competition, merchants need to be careful to sell enough to make it worthwhile.
“They have to be really on top of their game making sure they’re actually going to capitalize on a market. I think that’s maybe something they’re more concerned about than before.”
Jason Schroeder, events manager for the Otago University Students Association, has also seen an increase in self-directed ventures – he hosts at least two student markets per semester, with interest growing over the past five years.
He also saw a handful of ideas pass college campuses and backyards.
“There are more students who have independent businesses.
“Palmah is a really good example that sells organic t-shirts, and they really started by selling directly to their friends and students.”
Palmah’s witty designs have won them a strong following in New Zealand and Australia, and co-founder Hamish Palmer says they’re lucky to have taken off among the myriad of other companies.
“When we first launched things we certainly had no idea where it was going, it was just something fun to maybe be able to do a little sideways,” a- he declared.
Palmer has since visited college campuses to sell their wares and wasn’t surprised to notice an increase in self-directed student businesses as the cost of living grew increasingly out of reach.
“It’s definitely about doing that job and getting a little bit more out of it.”
“Especially somewhere like Otago, where a lot of people go there because it’s a little cheaper but it’s getting more and more expensive.”
In Wellington, Tui Lou Christie says students’ reputation for laziness is outdated, with most of her friends juggling multiple commitments to pay the cost of living, on top of their tuition.