Last year, Helena Faustin nearly doubled her annual income — all thanks to a side hustle.
In her day job, the 35-year-old is a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse living in Freeport, New York, making $105,000 per year in salary. In her off hours, she’s spent the past four years running That Nurse Can Cook, a food blog where she details recipes and posts cooking videos.
Initially, it cost Faustin about $700 in groceries, ring lights and other production materials to launch That Nurse Can Cook. Last year, the side hustle brought in $117,000 from YouTube revenue, brand partnerships and e-cookbook sales, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It. Faustin, who plans, films, edits and promotes all of her content herself, brought in more than $25,000 from That Nurse Can Cook in June 2021 alone.
Helena Faustin runs her popular food blog That Nurse Can Cook out of her home’s kitchen in Freeport, New York.
CNBC Make It
But the monetary value is far from the only benefit for Faustin, a mother of two who says her blog gave her a sense of control while working as a nurse during the peak of the Covid pandemic.
“I felt like I was going to work really and truly out of necessity,” Faustin tells CNBC Make It. “You have bills to pay, you have mouths to feed and the work has to go on no matter what. I said to myself, ‘Gee, if I could have more autonomy over my life, I’d be able to make a lot more decisions for myself and for my family.'”
But That Nurse Can Cook’s success didn’t come overnight. Faustin’s passion for cooking – and hustling – have been stewing for more than 20 years.
Initially, Faustin inherited a love for cooking from her mother, a Jamaican immigrant who taught Faustin how to make meals like ackee and saltfish in their family kitchen in Brooklyn, New York.
When Faustin was nine, her mother sent her to neighborhood markets where she learned to distinguish and bring home different ingredients. At age 15, Faustin says, she started more closely observing her mother in kitchen, then asking to join in.
“[My mom] didn’t always have the patience to teach,” Faustin says. “[Jamaicans] cook off of instinct, so I would say, ‘How much garlic powder should I put in?’ And she would literally look at me and say, ‘Use your judgement.'”
Faustin never imagined her family recipes would become lucrative. Instead of pursuing her culinary passions, she went to school, got good grades and became a NICU nurse.
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