How a Simple Idea Turned Into a $50k a Month Side Hustle


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lou riceLou Rice was breastfeeding her son Archie one night when disaster struck—she dropped her Kindle on his head!

While that experience was upsetting for both of them at the moment, it sparked an idea for Lou and her husband Ben to create a solution.

Ben fashioned a silicone strap with staples to attach Lou’s Kindle to her hand and prevent any future dropping incidents.

Lou tested it out over the next month and absolutely loved having the grip and security of the strap for comfortable one-handed reading during those long middle-of-the-night feeds.

With that, strapsicle.com was born—a side hustle now generating over $50k a month selling innovative Kindle straps. Not only that, but Strapsicle is on pace for its first-ever 6-figure month after recently going viral on TikTok and Instagram.

(Want some straps for yourself? Use promo code 15HUSTLE15 for 15% off at Amazon!)

Tune in to Episode 589 of The Side Hustle Show to learn:

  • How an accident sparked a successful product idea
  • Why micro-influencers were key for visibility
  • How to engineer a successful Amazon launch
  • How she’s protecting the brand and planning for the future

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Getting Started with Manufacturing

After positive initial testing, Ben and Lou explored whether there were any similar products on the market and found very few competitors. The products they did find were rather unappealing.

As Lou explained, “They had like little metal claws, or they’re very industrial-looking, and nothing kind of sleek and stylish like our straps are.”

This gave them confidence that a sleek, stylish silicone strap custom molded to fit Kindle devices could be a winning product.

Luckily, they had an existing manufacturing contact in China through a friend to produce prototypes and ultimately fulfill inventory orders.

It took 2-3 rounds of back and forth with the factory to perfect the design, dimensions, tension, and sizing of the very first Strapsicle strap.

Once the final production sample was approved, Lou created a basic online survey and distributed it through Facebook friends and family. With a sample size of 50 respondents, the feedback gave Lou assurance they were solving a real customer problem given the enthusiasm expressed by existing Kindle owners.

With this validation fueling their intrinsic desire to develop a solution for Lou’s initial dropping challenge, they decided to move forward and place a minimum order quantity of 500 units for about $2,000 including shipping fees. 

Giving Away Product to Kindle Lovers

After the first shipment of inventory arrived, Lou and Ben found themselves paralyzed on actually launching for months. The overthinking trap many entrepreneurs fall victim to!

But after listening to a podcast that gave her inspiration, Strapsicle officially launched online by giving away product for free! These people only paid the shipping costs, and they were only asked to provide feedback about the strap.

This approach allowed Lou and Ben to begin building community and start a dialogue with real customers using Strapsicle on their Kindles. Plus, it enabled gathering user-generated content and reviews to aid subsequent marketing efforts.

Lou spread the word online primarily through Facebook communities like female entrepreneurs groups and local neighborhood groups. She also made posts on LinkedIn and her personal Instagram account, yielding almost 100 sales in the first month.

BookTok and Micro-Influencer Marketing

Never one to stand still, Lou soon stumbled upon BookTok – an engaged subculture on TikTok obsessed with reading and raving about their favorite books. It didn’t take long for Lou to realize BookTok participants were an ideal target market given their affinity for Kindles as well.

Lou decided to experiment with a micro-influencer affiliate marketing strategy. This involved searching relevant Kindle hashtags like #Kindle and keywords to find nano and micro-influencers on TikTok and Instagram with small but targeted followings between 2,000-3,000 followers.

She reached out lots of micro-influencers, offered them free samples to try, and provided discount codes they could share with their followers to drive sales.

The micro-influencer content not only spreads brand awareness but also creates more user-generated content for Lou to repurpose on Strapsicle’s own social channels. She continues nurturing relationships with her influencers by sending new products and keeping in constant contact as they drive more and more traffic and sales.

This micro-influencer strategy combined with the initial free giveaway enabled Strapsicle to gain significant organic traction in just its first 3 months in business.

Launching on Amazon and Driving External Traffic

Lou and Ben started selling on Amazon using FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) to ease order fulfillment and distribution, especially within the US market.

(Want some straps for yourself? Use promo code 15HUSTLE15 for 15% off at Amazon!)

They knew the power of Amazon but also understood the importance of driving external traffic to the listings. So Lou implemented referral bonus links and affiliate marketing through multiple channels back to the Amazon product pages.

She continues reaching out to micro-influencers on TikTok and Instagram that cater to the Kindle niche. By providing them Amazon discount codes instead of codes for Strapsicle, any resulting sales still credit the influencer while allowing the customer a seamless Amazon shopping experience.

This ongoing effort provides the essential external visibility to help Strapsicle’s products rank higher in Amazon search results. And the high placement then enables more organic sales.

Protecting the Business

Growing a business based primarily on Amazon does come with risks, such as competitors releasing a similar Kindle strap. To protect Strapsicle as much as possible, Lou took measures like:

  • Registering for Amazon Brand Registry to own her product listings
  • Trademark
  • Design patent

She also utilizes programs like Amazon Vine when possible to incentivize more ratings and reviews. While the threat of copycats still looms, focusing on community and brand differentiation helps mitigate this.

Hitting $50k+ a Month with Explosive Growth

Flash forward to today, and Strapsicle is flying high at over $50,000 a month in sales between Strapsicle.com and Amazon. Lou credits consistent effort delivering micro-influencer seed content and wide distribution of affiliated links driving external traffic to Amazon product pages.

The crowning achievement thus far has been a single viral TikTok video that generated over 2 million views.

@themarysarge

I love this kindle accessory over a pop socket! Super comfy, removeable and comes in tons of colors #kindleaccessories #kindleaccessory #kindlemusthaves #kindlereader #strapsiclekindlestrap

♬ Sunshine – WIRA

Combined with a “The 9 Best Kindle Accessories to Shop on Amazon Under $35” PR roundup Cosmopolitan published including Strapsicle, the widespread exposure pushed Lou’s side hustle over $100k in sales its first month topping six figures.

Now Strapsicle has become a gift-giving mainstay during the holiday rush. This perfectly supplements their core customer base thanks to a simple but clever product solving an overlooked reader problem.

Mistakes and Surprises

Despite breakout early success, Lou is quick to admit they’ve been figuring things out as they go. From pricing changes to get the optimal value-based customer conversions to sizing mixups that led to negative reviews, they’ve endured their fair share of lessons about selling on Amazon.

One hard lesson came from a factory quality control issue that had their manufacturer sending the wrong sized units to Amazon warehouses. It wasn’t caught initially, leading confused customers to complain about ill-fitting straps.

Lou used the opportunity to personally respond with thoughtful comments, send replacements from their Shopify-fulfilled inventory, and ultimately change disappointed 1-star reviews into delighted 5-star raves.

This attention to individual customer care reminds Lou that Strapsicle isn’t just another faceless corporate entity. As a bootstrapping startup and family passion project self-funded from her corporate salary, every sale counts.

Lou also began receiving feedback that the versatile silicone strap design helped readers suffering from arthritis, Parkinson’s, and nerve damage comfortably hold Kindle devices and alternatives from Kobo that normally slipped from their grasp.

Word spread and a woman with cerebral palsy even wrote to Lou and said, “You’ve changed my life.” While Lou initially set out to solve a simple problem for exhausted parents like herself, this discovery added a greater sense of purpose and refinement to the brand’s vision. 

What’s Next for Strapsicle?

Looking ahead, Lou plans to continue aggressively expanding awareness of Strapsicle among as many Kindle owners globally as possible. She wants to cement Strapsicle as the #1 brand and top-of-mind solution for comfortable and secure one-handed reading.

This inspires Lou’s “whys” even further—the vision for Strapsicle to enhance the reading experience no matter a person’s physical situation.

No matter what challenges or surprises come next, Lou feels grateful for the community she’s built and the testimonials of how much Strapsicle products positively impact people’s lives. Through consistency and nurturing relationships, both with partners and customers, Lou is confident Strapsicle will continue its upwards trajectory.

Strapsicle proves that sometimes a simple idea can turn into a thriving side hustle and beyond. So get out there and keep chasing inspiration when it strikes! You never know what side hustle might just change your life.

Lou’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation

“Just keep going.”

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

Usually Hustling, Occasionally Social

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