Work hard for the money

UB students find offbeat ways to make extra cash

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The Spectrum

From DJing to drug dealing, UB students have found more than a few ways to get by financially during the semester. Here's a rundown of some students' odd jobs:

Custom shorts

Shelby Yacavone, a freshman psychology and political science major, can do just about anything with an old pair of jeans.

Yacavone started off by searching the best YouTube tutorials and learned how to make stylish and trendy shorts for a fraction of the cost. From cutting and dyeing to patching and shredding, Yacavone said she creates perfect replicas of shorts she sees in her favorite stores.

Urban Outfitters, one of Yacavone's favorite stores, sells shorts similar to Yacavone's creations from $60-$150 on average, according to its website.

Yacavone found that after taking a visit to a thrift store in Queens, N.Y., she could make the same shorts for about $10 and she sells them for $20 to $30. Yacavone's first creation came from a pair of old women's Levi jeans. She managed to turn the hand-me-down into a pair of ombr?(c) shorts, a style that caught the attention of many, she said.

Yacavone said her friend's face dropped when she found out the shorts she was wearing were her own work. "You need to make me a pair," her teammate said. And Yacavone got right to work.

"I didn't expect anything in return for making [her teammate] a pair of custom shorts," Yacavone said. "But she was so happy with them, she insisted that she pay me for them."

Less than a week later, Yacavone's Facebook inbox was flooding with messages. Everyone wanted a pair of shorts, and Yacavone's talent was in high demand.

Yacavone's process is precise, and she takes no breaks when she is designing. She starts off by bringing her customers to the thrift shop with her and, together, they search for the perfect pair of jeans - a pair that is high-waisted, perhaps with a "vintage vibe" to them and, most importantly, fits comfortably. After the jeans are purchased, Yacavone takes them home to begin working.

Yacavone measures and cuts the jeans into shorts based on length preference and then shreds, studs, dyes or sews patches onto the shorts.

"My room turns into a little sweatshop," Yacavone said. "And I enjoy every second of it."

On average, it takes Yacavone about two hours to create the shorts. She said it's the most relaxing and stress-free two hours of her day.

DJing for UB

Not many students can say their favorite song is one of their own.

Ryan Beegel can.

Beegel, a junior business major, was sick of playing the "same old" music off an iPod at parties. He was searching for tunes that would get people dancing. In the summer of 2011, Beegel decided to start creating his own music.

After investing in his first controller and a summer of learning how to make his own beats and sounds, Beegel brought his music back to UB and started playing it at parties.

"His music is awesome," said Jenna Forman, a junior health and human services major and longtime friend of Beegel. "And it's even better knowing that he did it all on his own and is completely self-taught."

During Beegel's sophomore year at UB, he got a gig playing for Mojo's, a now-defunct college bar on Main Street. Beegel made $70 a night and was able to share his music with the UB community.

Beegel wasn't pleased to hear Mojo's, his regular nightspot, was recently shut down. He worried his music was only going to be heard from the back of house parties.

Always interested in new musical opportunities, however, Beegel found a way back into sharing his passion while making money. Beegel is going to DJ the Student Association's tailgate before the football team's game against UConn on Sep. 28, and he can't wait to for more students to hear his music.

"I play a lot of popular house music," Beegel said. "But it's the kind of stuff that everyone can enjoy and dance to - even the people who don't necessarily like house [music]."

Bokwa & Zumba instructor

Paul Dominguez, a junior history and political science major who teaches Zumba at UB, became certified to also teach Bokwa in April. Bokwa is a new group fitness program that is "rapidly spreading across the globe," according to bokwafitness.com. The program involves dancing without choreography or counting steps. Bokwa and Zumba instructors at UB can make around $20 per hour.

"I get a high off of seeing other people dancing and having fun, while getting fit at the same time," Dominguez said. "I love being able to share fitness with everyone."

Drug dealer

Hillary Wang*, a senior communication major, shared an apartment-style house with Josh Frank* last year. Wang said Frank dealt drugs to make money throughout his college career.

"Nearly 44 percent of students told survey-takers they know a classmate who sells drugs," The Huffington Post reported in 2012. "Marijuana was the easiest drug to come by, followed by prescription drugs, cocaine and ecstasy."

Wang said if she had known she was signing a lease to live with a drug dealer, she probably would have chosen to live elsewhere.

"Everything always smelled so strongly of weed, and I hated it," Wang said. "There were also always random people walking in and out of the house to pick up their little baggies. For someone who doesn't smoke, it was really shocking to see and live with."

Frank told Wang he was robbed at gunpoint the year before they lived together, which gave Wang anxiety. She could not understand why Frank was risking his life by dealing drugs to make money.

Wang moved out of the apartment. She heard through some friends that Frank's house was robbed at gunpoint last summer. She hopes Frank stopped dealing drugs and said no amount of money is worth her ex-roommate's life.

*Names were changed to protect the privacy of both students.

University Heights landlord

Marlon Browar, a UB alum who majored in business administration, bought a house in the University Heights his sophomore year of college.

He rented the house to UB students. Through serving as a landlord for three years of his college career, Browar gained real-life business skills that UB could have never taught him in a classroom, he said. He now owns over half a dozen homes in the area and continues to make money this way.

Email: features@ubspectrum.com