Jor-El Payne sits in front of a microphone. Payne alongside friend, Isaac Thompson, are already an hour deep in conversation about Nipsey Hussle, Kayne West and durags being introduced in NBA 2k19. They bicker back and forth for another 10 minutes until they wrap up their 31st episode.

 

This has become a normal routine for the pair of University of Guelph-Humber students who run their own biweekly podcast out of a small soundproof room on the third floor of the school.

 

The Pop Up Shop Podcast sees the two discussing their shared love of the hip hop world, and the topics within it. Podcast episodes range anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour long.

 

“[Hip Hop] is our favourite style of music,” says Payne. “It inspires so many other facets of our life.”

 

In fact, it was this appreciation for hip hop, as well as a mutual friend, that initially brought the pair together in the first place. Or so they thought. As luck would have it, the students had actually met before—standing in line at a Kendrick Lamar pop-up shop in Toronto.

 

“We were showing each other pictures and he shows me his picture and I was like that’s me,” Payne explains, recounting the moment he realized he was in a picture Thompson took while in line at the shop. “That’s where the name came out of, the Pop Up Shop Podcast.”

 

With a blooming idea, a clever name and a quiet space to meet every week, the Pop Up Shop Podcast released its first episode on March 23, 2018.

Media studies students, Isaac Thompson and Jor-El Payne, recording their first podcast.

Isaac Thompson and Jor-El Payne recording their first podcast (Pop Up Shop Podcast).

“It’s more than just something we do to add to our portfolio, it’s just become him and I just being friends and talking,” Payne says.

 

Being in the media studies program, both Payne and Thompson have access to resources like the school’s podcast room both for their studies, and recreational use.

 

The Pop Up Shop Podcast has become a passionate hobby for the students says Payne. But balancing this weekly production of episodes with his studies can be a challenge, especially during exams.

 

In fact, with school, part-time jobs and maintaining their personal lives, the duo cut back to uploading an episode to SoundCloud every other Friday, which has been more manageable.

 

“It had to become once every two weeks just because of time and wanting to manage it properly,” he says.

 

Erica Ramsammy shares a similar reality with Payne and Thompson, as she runs her own natural skin care business, which she operates out of her parents’ home.

Erica Ramsammy stands in front of the plant wall on the fourth floor of Guelph-Humber.

Erica Ramsammy owns her own skin care business, EB Skin Care. (Amanda Naccarato/GH360)

Like Payne, Ramsammy, who also attends Guelph-Humber, explains that while her side hustle is important to her, school is her main priority.

 

“At the end of the day school comes first because you need your degree or your diploma,” she says.

 

Ramsammy launched EB Skin Care in May of 2017, which sells and delivers handmade products such as bath bombs, face masks and artisan soaps.

Sample of EB Skincare products, such as a face mask, lip balm, lip scrum and artisan soap.

EB Skin Care products, including a face mask, lip balm, lip scrum and artisan soap. (EB Skin Care)

The third-year media studies student says she created the skin care business as a way to help her save money and express her creativity.

 

“I was spending all my money at LUSH and I thought okay I should stop that, I could make this myself and I just started researching how to do that,” she says. “I thought I could help other people out too and sell it at more affordable prices.”

 

Since then, Ramsammy has been able to cultivate a growing customer base, which she attributes to selling at her parents’ workplaces and through her use of social media.

 

Being a public relations student, Ramsammy has come to realize how important social media can be in building her brand and expanding the ways to promote herself.

 

“I’ve always loved photography so [social media] helped me expand that, and coming up with cute captions are really fun,” says Ramsammy.

 

She credits the “power of hashtags” in helping her gain her near 400 followers and driving up her overall sales, especially during the holidays.

 

In fact, according to Ramsammy, holidays such as Christmas and Easter, produce her biggest sales. But being a current student means that these occasions coincide with exam seasons, which she admits can become stressful.

 

“Sometimes I feel I’m so in over my head, like what am I doing? I need to concentrate on school,” she says.

 

With one year left of university, both Payne and Ramsammy agree that being a student and producing something their passionate about can be stressful, but they have no plans of slowing down their side projects.

 

“Just go for it, don’t hesitate, do it, see what happens. If you fail, you can just keep everything for yourself,” concludes Ramsammy, who encourages others to always strive towards their passion.