Editors Pick

Why you need to have a happy workforce

24th January 2024

Raphael Holt: I found 6 ways to make money in my teens

By Raphael Holt


From the age of 15, I have been focused on finding work. As a student in North London, I wanted financial freedom and to gain experiences that could benefit me in the future. From turning my passions into businesses, to finding work that builds up experience for my future, the joy these experiences have brought me and the lessons they have taught me have been a pivotal part of my upbringing.

1.   Custom Fidget Spinners

Even before I hit my teens, I started an online enterprise. At the age of 12, fidget spinners (a small toy based around three arms that spin from a central ball bearing) became a huge sensation among young people. I too became entirely consumed, so consumed I began to design and sell my own under the name Custom Fidget Spinners. I had spotted a gap in the market for innovative design and colourways. I would bulk buy 30 or so plain spinners, strip them of their ball bearing and dip the outer body into a bath of water and spray paint, a process called hydro-dipping that often resulted in a mesmerising mix of patterns and colours. I sold to school friends, family and even shipped abroad. This also solidified my position as the cool kid for a brief two months.


One of my hyrdo-dipped fidget spinners


2.   Landscape gardening

Possibly my favourite of them all – working outside, earning well… what’s not to like?

Again, this all started from a passion as opposed to financial desperation, and for me that is key to enjoyment and success in any work. I developed an interest in landscaping and (mostly) pond-scaping. I went into my back garden, dug a hole, lined it with plastic and I had made my first pond at fourteen. To my horror, two weeks after I had perfected it (with a running waterfall) one of my mates careered into it during his first experience in the world of beer, instantly disabling my precious water feature. Nonetheless, I cracked on with my landscaping and went on to help many of my neighbours, eventually working under a local landscaper. This is an excellent opportunity if you’re partial to a bit of manual labour in exchange for £150 a day. I distinctly remember fuelling my summer travels after a three-day landscaping stint at Corum’s Fields Nursery.


Building my first pond at the age of 14


3.    Selling second-hand clothes

Covid struck the world, many worked from home, but hospitality-working teens were left with uncertain finances. I had to find a way. Depop, Vinted and Ebay are all well-known to the vast majority of young people. However, what I found is that the price of an item can be seriously increased by the photography and presentation of your online store. Combine clean aesthetic with car-boot sale prices and your profit margins will lengthen. I would rise early to haggle over the finest worms with the Nag’s Head sellers. Return home with a bumper crop to upload to the shop. This is easy and accessible for teens of all ages. The real trick is to brand scout in the hopes that a seller is slightly removed from the fashion world and is willing to let go of some Carhartt jeans for a quid.


Selling car boot sale jeans on Depop



4.   Working as a photographer’s assistant for Next

Year 11 work experience day. I found myself in Acton on what I assumed was a visitors pass to a fashion shoot. I was taken aback by the grandeur of the whole operation, and slightly stumped by some of the dopey, Chelsea boot-wearing staff. However, I tried to seem like I knew what I was on about, cracked a couple of droll jokes with the Chealsea booters – presumably about Hackney and IPA. One week later they called me up and asked me to work on a two-day shoot as a photographer’s assistant. I said yes without hesitation. After the two days I finally dared to ask if I was being paid at all. They said, ‘yes of course, £200 a day is a minimum for this work.’


On shoot for next at Rida Studios, London


5.   Bar and waiting shifts for a catering agency


Why would you want to work in a pub and be stuck on a weekend-destroying rota, when you can join a staffing agency and pick your own hours and venue? You do not need substantial experience to join these agencies, so have a look in your local area if you live in or around London – try Host, High Society, Rocket or Splendid. These all regularly staff large events. The pay starts at £13ph and can go up to around £15. Not only will you never have to sacrifice your social life, but you have the chance of working a rage of cool events. I did the BAFTAS as well as King Charles’s Coronation Concert last year, during which I had the opportunity to subtly serve Austin Butler with my best Elvis accent.


Posing at the Royal Albert Hall during a bar shift


6.   Tutoring English as part of the National Tutoring Programme

Set up by the government due to the poor post-COVID literacy rates, the National Tutoring Programme sees tutors being employed across UK secondary schools, and sees my bank balance into the friendly figures. Jokes aside, this is an incredibly important role and extremely valuable experience. Not only to the students make me laugh (by asking me how many children I have) but they make me happy when I see them doing well or growing in confidence. So, if you are looking for a job, have a specialist subject you would like to teach, and extraordinarily long and slow burning fuse – this is the one for you.

In conclusion…


Aside from the individual job titles and intricacies of working within each industry, what I really believe is that every teenager should get involved with work. In most circumstances teens will be living at home with no rent to pay and some spare time. This is the greatest opportunity, perhaps of your lifetime, to make money, and every penny you earn is yours to spend. Virtually no tax, no subscriptions, no debt. You can work one shift a week during Sixth Form and before you know it you are booking a holiday.


To see examples of Raphael Holt’s work visit or Raphaelholtphotos on Instagram.


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