Leela Loisel has made an entire career out of hula hoops.
Yes, hula hoops! The toy we’ve all seen — and likely played with — at some point in our lives helps Loisel earns her living.
Whether she’s busking at the street fair in Monrovia, California, building her own custom hula hoops to sell or teaching others how to get their hoop-centric dance on, Loisel is all about the hoop life.
And, fortunately for us here at The Penny Hoarder, she was willing to share how to turn exercise-based fun into a big-time moneymaker!
Perform with Hula Hoops
She breaks out her hoops at community events, “concerts and outdoor parks where music is playing. Then people see me dancing and come up to talk to me,” said Loisel.
“I also have little business cards I printed up, and I’ll sometimes place ads on [websites] for hoopers, but I depend mainly on meeting people in person — word of mouth.”
And it turns out hooping is lucrative. Loisel earns an average of $50 an hour when busking at street fairs. Parents are, by far, her best customers when it comes to street performing.
“Children love hula hooping and they’ll drag their parents over to watch me dance. And then I’ll encourage them to join in,” Loisel said.
“It’s a great way for them to burn energy, and their parents will sometimes hire me to teach them hooping lessons.”
Build and Sell Hula Hoops
Loisel originally began making her own hula hoops so she’d have a variety of different sizes “because different size hoops do different things.”
From there, she started making them for interested friends, and now creates hoops for anyone who’s willing to pay.
“The hoops themselves are made out of plumbing tubing. You can get it at hardware stores, but I prefer to buy it online in bulk” to keep her costs low, she explained.
“I charge $20 to $30 per hoop depending on what kind of tape they want. Different tapes are used for different levels of grip and, of course, aesthetic value,” said Loisel.
In addition to teaching others to hoop through Blackbird Dance Company, Loisel also teaches out of her home.
“I charge $15 to $20 an hour for lessons, depending on how many people there are and how far they have to travel to meet with me,” Loisel said.
“I also like to offer a free lesson to anyone who buys one of my hoops — and the people who take me up on it will often come back for more. It’s a great way to market my lessons without being too pushy.”
As a relatively low-impact exercise, anyone can pick up a hula hoop and start manipulating it.
“[A hula hoop is] like a dance partner that you have complete control over,” said Loisel. “It’s wonderful, and no two people hoop alike. My favorite thing is that it gets people to dance who normally wouldn’t dance. It gets [people] to stand up and be part of something!”
Unexpected Benefits of Hooping
In addition to being able to earn a living off of hula hoops, Loisel has found a lot of additional benefits to the lifestyle.
“I don’t work out – all I do is hoop. Not having to go to the gym is great!” she explained.
“And there are days when you’ll be pissed off, but then you can pick up a hoop and instantly feel joyous. And it’s so fun to do with friends.”
“But the best thing that’s come out of hooping, for me personally, is my dog, Porkchop,” continued Loisel. “He originally belonged to a woman I was giving private lessons to. We developed a good rapport and when she had to move away, she gave him to me. He’s my greatest joy, and I wouldn’t have him in my life if it weren’t for hooping!”
Your Turn: How about you? Would you consider hula hooping as a potential money-earner? Let us know in the comments!
Lauren Tharp is a freelance writer and the owner of LittleZotz Writing. Through her website, Lauren helps small businesses bring their brands to life through written content; and she also helps fellow writers get started as freelancers via weekly blog posts, bi-monthly newsletters, free ebooks and one-on-one mentoring.