For Marisol Morley, the move from corporate to cookies was a giant leap of faith.
In 2015, Morley decided to leave behind her secure job as an executive assistant at an investment bank to focus on her custom cookie and cookie cake business, Tiny Kitchen Treats, full time with assistance from her husband.
“I decided it was time to take the dive,” Morley says.
Within four years, the 34-year-old, first-generation American businesswoman’s profits ballooned — she went from making $30,000 in her first year of business to a projected $300,000 at the end of 2019. Now, Tiny Kitchen Treats boasts high-profile clients like Dior, Revlon, Netflix, and Google. They even made cookies for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal baby shower this past February.
But in the beginning, Tiny Kitchen Treats was a side hustle.
Pursuing a business or doing extra work on the side while still keeping your day job — a.k.a. the “side hustle” — has become a common source of income for many Americans. A recent report by Bankrate says that nearly half of U.S. workers are making money from a side gig. Morley was one of them.
For months before leaving her corporate position, Morley kept up a hectic schedule. She worked her full-time job, took night classes part-time to finish her bachelor’s degree, and then came home and baked cookies into the early hours of the morning.
“I was working 20-hour days, seven days a week, for eight months,” Morley says.
Morley attributes much of her ambition to growing up as a first-generation American.
Her parents immigrated to America from Spain and Colombia and instilled in Morley her relentless drive and the idea that if you put in the effort, your dreams will be realized and you will be successful.
“If you tell an immigrant all you have to do is work very hard, I think they believe it down to their core,” Morley says.
And when she left the investment bank Moelis & Company to pursue her dream, Morley’s family gave her their full support.
They were her first employees as she operated her business out of her home. Her mom helped with packaging, her sister assisted with decorating, and her brother worked as her baker. This also helped Morley keep her operating costs low.
“That’s how we all rally as the children of immigrants. Your family needs help, you work at their company,” Morley says.
Now, the custom cookie designer has eight employees and her own store in Brooklyn.
She’s since moved out of her own tiny kitchen and into a storefront in Brooklyn, where Tiny Kitchen Treats is also planning to offer classes. They will be hosted by a range of experts and teach skills such as baking, painting techniques, and possibly even some advice for small businesses.
For anyone aspiring to leave behind their 9-to-5 and go the entrepreneurial route, Morley has a few words of wisdom.
“[People] sugarcoat how much work and how much sacrifice” it takes to be successful, says Morley. She also says to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, to develop relationships that might help you in the future, and to listen to your clients and experts in your field.
More than anything, she emphasizes the side hustle. While it’s nice to have big goals, don’t expect to make a profit in the first year and don’t underestimate the money you need to keep your business and your dream alive.
“Don’t kill your dream starting out of the gate by saying ‘I can live without money,’” she says. “If you are not wealthy individually, you’ve got to work both jobs.”