When COVID-19 hit in March, Khadira Abdul-Aziz knew her family’s finances were going to change.
Her husband, Waheed Grundy, worked in home health care, but he also drove for Lyft and Uber as a second source of income, which their family of six relied on.
With so much unknown about the virus at the time, they did not want to let people into their vehicles and risk contracting the virus. So in April, the two began researching for ways to build back that extra income.
A few months later, they started a candle-making business – Relax Candles and Things – out of their garage.
“Our income was getting cut, and we were thinking, ‘What can we do as something extra?'” Abdul-Aziz said. “We were looking all over the place. We wanted to do something we really enjoyed.”
The COVID-19 restrictions have inspired many to find creative ways to bring in extra income and to pursue passions, from selling handmade wood decor to life coaching to lawn care businesses. And people like Abdul-Aziz, are doing it right out of their homes.
The Dover entrepreneur was first introduced to candle-making from a demonstration at a friend’s home in February 2020, which inspired the idea of opening Relax Candles and Things in July.
“When we were thinking of all of these ideas, I was like you know what, I did the candle-making experience, let’s dig into candle-making, so we started looking into the science of it, and trying it out and we really did love it,” she said.
She said it’s like a “little factory” in their garage, with soy max, melters and printers throughout the space. Her children even help out sometimes.
Abdul-Aziz and her husband have four boys who like to learn about the science of candle-making and running a business.
They started selling just to friends and family, and then expanded online, at farmer’s markets and pop-up shops throughout Delaware and Pennsylvania. She has even done candle-making demonstrations at the Iqra Institute near King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and will be doing one for a Girl Scout troop in Dover.
Less than a year after the business opened, they have seen success, but she said their family would struggle financially if it was their only source of income.
“It would be really hard, but because this is a secondary income, it’s a hobby, it’s really good. Whatever extra we get, it’s extra,” she said.
Dover issued 10 licenses in 2020 for home-based businesses, such as for lawn care companies, cleaning companies and in-home daycares, but the number is not out of the ordinary, according to Dave Hugg, city planning commissioner for Dover.
Some cities are seeing spikes in new business licenses.
The Middletown Business License Department does not keep track of which businesses are home-based, but council members Jimmy Reynolds and Aaron Blythe have said they have seen more requests than normal.
Celeste Bevans, owner of Board It Up in Middletown, left the health care field after three decades and opened her custom homemade wood decor business out of her home in October.
Feeling overwhelmed with the work, the Middletown resident decided to quit her career in June to pursue her passion of woodworking.
“For me, it has been a blessing, being in the middle of all of that and jumping out with the leap of faith, I feel so much more successful now in business, than I did in 30 years of healthcare,” she said.
The former healthcare worker said she had plans to open a brick-and-mortar location, but decided due to pandemic safety, it would be better to run it out of her home.
The business is only online right now, but Bevans plans to host in-person workshops once it is safe to do so. She hopes to teach 3-hour classes of up to 10 people on how to use power tools and make some of the items Bevans sells.
“I turned it into more of an empowerment type of workshop,” she said. “They are bonding types of workshops. A lot of my customers get together to make the products, they walk out as friends, and they walk out with a skill.”
Prior to opening her Middletown business, Bevans was conducting similar workshops in Pennsylvania as a hobby, but during the summer she started to take it more seriously.
But making the jump out of healthcare was not easy for her.
While making a dramatic career change during a pandemic has been hard, she hopes it inspires others to make the same jump she did.
“[I was] wanting a whole different environment, and wanting to be home with the family and making this more of a family-oriented type of business.” Bevans said, “I was afraid. I was making good money in healthcare. It was a calling, but [it’s] not anymore.”
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Home-based businesses help Delawareans during the COVID economy