Featured photo: Sacred Bath and Body vendor at the People’s Market
Shante Woody is no stranger to the hustle.
In 2015, after being turned down for a job yet again, she looked around her home for items to pawn just to make ends meet. In the kitchen, she laid her eyes upon basic ingredients in the cabinets and fridge: sugar, eggs, flour and butter.
“All I knew was that I had a really good poundcake recipe,” Woody said.
Soon afterwards Woody began selling baked goods at the People’s Market in Greensboro. The extra income became a lifeline, a way to pay for expenses like recurring bills or glasses for her kids.
“I was considered low or moderate income,” she said. “It felt great to be able to be sustainable.”
Cut to seven years later, and Woody is now the manager for the People’s Market and part of an initiative to help others sustain their businesses. Side Hustle University is a joint venture between the People’s Market, the Corner Market, Glenwood Together and CoMetta that aims to help small-scale businesses gain the business skills necessary to succeed. Starting on Jan. 10, Side Hustle University will offer various sessions focused on cultivating skills in marketing, networking, identifying local resources and more. While the Corner Market is still operating, the People’s Market is only open from April to October, so in the off-season, Woody still wants vendors to be able to thrive and Side Hustle University is a way to do that.
“We want people to know that we’re not just a pop-up market,” Woody said. “Yes, we do that, but how are we going to help create connection and community with our vendors and help them with resources that they need to succeed?”
For her, joining the People’s Market years ago changed her life’s trajectory.
Woody, who is a mother to seven children, had a hard time finding stable work because of a misdemeanor charge for possession of paraphernalia on her record from when she was 18. Then in 2017, she said she was wrongfully arrested for child abuse when she had to restrain her teenage daughter, who had behavioral health problems. The charges were ultimately dismissed, she said, but the repercussions of the event follow her to this day.
“It still puts a label on me,” Woody said. “That’s a hardship right there.”
In the midst of the darkness, she turned to old recipes she learned from her grandmother, Jesse, whom she helped in the kitchen as a child.
“It was our thing,” Woody recalled. “It was a chore to do. My grandmother always had me in the kitchen sifting, measuring out; those were my responsibilities.”
After finding success at a church fundraiser, Woody took cake-decorating classes at Michaels and started selling at the People’s Market.
“It was history,” Woody said. “I’ve tried other markets and done other pop-ups, but know that come April through October, that is home for me. There is a sense of community. It’s not just a place where you go; everybody thrives.”
She’s seen several other vendors find success through the market, too. Nunu of Nunu’s Lemonade started selling drinks at the market out of plastic cups when she was 11 years old. Now she’s in high school, and sells her lemonade out of bottles, complete with a logo.
“It has all of the aesthetics of a real entrepreneur,” Woody said. “We want to see you grow, make money and take it to the next level.”
After three years of a pandemic, increasing rent and inflation combined with a recent scare from the county health department, Woody said that giving vendors every opportunity to succeed is important.
“Food businesses are not going anywhere,” Woody said. “They are popping up everyday…. People need something to supplement their income so what are they going to do? They’re going to create a craft or food or something that is easy to do. That’s how it was for me, and I think Side Hustle University will help them better prepare for the next steps in their business.”
Side Hustle University starts on Jan. 10 and runs through March. All classes will take place at Glenwood Together. Learn more and register at thepeoplesmarketgso.com.
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