55-year-old whose backyard side hustle brought in nearly $20,000 in a month: ‘Anyone can do this’

This story is a part of CNBC Make It’s Six-Figure Side Hustle sequence, the place folks with profitable side hustles break down the routines and habits they’ve used to generate profits on high of their full-time jobs. Got a story to inform? Let us know! Email us at AskMakeIt@cnbc.com.

It took Rodney Melton simply over a yr to construct a six-figure side hustle.

In March 2021, Melton began molding, engraving and selling headstones for pet memorials on Etsy. He’d lengthy labored with concrete and stone as a pastime, whereas working 60 hours per week as a upkeep lead at Mars Pet Care.

He already owned a $15,000 engraver. Plus, he may work in his self-built workshop behind his house in Alma, Arkansas, a city of lower than 6,000 folks on the sting of the Ozark Mountains.

At first, it took Melton two or three days to set the headstones in molds, then one other 5 hours to engrave them earlier than his spouse added epoxy filling. As his side hustle grew, income began pouring in — so he used a mixture of proceeds and financial savings to speculate one other $51,500 in different instruments, like a sandblaster, granite noticed and chisel, and laser engraver.

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Each new piece of apparatus minimized Melton’s manufacturing time, permitting him to promote extra headstones. In May 2022, his Etsy store brought in nearly $20,000, and Melton left his full-time job. Now he works fewer hours and spends them along with his household, after hiring his daughter and daughter-in-law final summer season.

Last yr, the four-person operation brought in greater than $207,000 on Etsy, in response to paperwork reviewed by CNBC Make It. About two-thirds of that’s revenue, Melton estimates, and he is on observe to make roughly the identical quantity this yr.

Here, he discusses how he constructed his enterprise, why he likes working with members of the family and what you would possibly want to duplicate his success.

CNBC Make It: Do you assume your side hustle is replicable? What do it’s good to get began?

Melton: Anyone can do this. I’d say you want $10,000 or much less to get began. That’s for cement molds and sandblast tools.

It’s simply a matter of getting the fervour for it. My mother handed on the finish of 2020, and my dad and I have been taking it actually exhausting. I began making issues, like concrete crosses, 3D roses and plaques. Just little memorial items that turned out very nice.

Then, my pal Carlos misplaced his canine Molly. I feel these issues had a lot to do with the path I went. My coronary heart has been in it for the folks [who lose their pets]. But by end result, should you serve extra folks, you make more cash.

Have you needed to set any boundaries working with your loved ones?  

Not actually. If you might have an alpha character and are actually assertive, it would conflict with a few of your loved ones members. But should you let all people have a half it in, issues can run easily.

In the start, my spouse and I might meet my daughter Kristen for lunch, at some point a week. We would simply sit there and speak about issues and brainstorm. She got here up with an concept for a concrete mildew formed like a canine bone. We’ve bought hundreds of {dollars}’ price [of them] since.

Melton’s daughter, Kristen, chopping granite.

Rodney Melton

Now, Kristen has taken over a lot. She retains me in line on what must be completed. I’ll exit [to the workshop] and there will be a sticky be aware that claims, “Dad, it’s good to pour seven beige stones as we speak.”

How has creating pet memorials full-time impacted your work-life stability?

My spouse, daughter and daughter-in-law, all of us work about 5 hours per day now. I work 75 ft out my again door — it is freed up a lot time and given me the chance to simply be with my household a complete lot extra.

I wish to sleep in and work into the night a little bit. I’m my very own boss, which has its downfalls. But it nonetheless is not a full-time job. I can mow the yard, clear the home.

It’s helped all of us. My daughter wasn’t pleased with the place she labored on the time. My daughter-in-law, who helps us design the stencils, was a stay-at-home mother and needed one thing to do. She makes a few hundred bucks a week, and as an alternative of paying for daycare, stays at house along with her youngsters.

I can make a good residing transport the whole lot the way in which we do now. If I have been in my 30s, I might in all probability gear up and do large headstones for cemeteries. But these are a lot greater objects.

I’m in talks with a native monument firm to start out updating shared headstones in cemeteries. Maybe we’ll go in that path subsequent yr.

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