Fifth-grade teacher Ingrid Bencosme starts a publishing company on the side, Teeth Fairies.
Your Side Gig?
Teeth Fairies is the name of the publishing company I started. I created a book and doll set to help ease children into the tooth loss process. The book set encourages parents and kids to work together for the benefit of learning about oral hygiene in an entertaining way and establishing lifelong healthy dental habits. It is also a keepsake to record the milestone. I have done book signing events, readings, and presentations in a variety of settings, including schools, museums, children's hospitals, and retail stores. Teeth Fairies has won several awards and has appealed to major retailers. The book set is available at Babies R Us, Toys R Us, Barnes and Noble, FAO Schwarz, and teethfairies.com.
Tell us a little about your work.
I am currently teaching fifth grade in a long island elementary school.
What led you to work outside the classroom?
I took a break from teaching to be a stay-at-home mom until my children started school. When my eldest daughter was reaching the tooth loss stage, she felt anxious about the process and had a lot of questions. I saw this as an opportunity to come up with something fun and exciting for her. I looked for existing products and games, but I couldn't find anything available that I liked. I came up with my own story and bought a generic fairy doll to go with it. Writing stories was something that I enjoyed and often did with my students when I was teaching. I wanted the story to be interactive so the addition of the fairy doll was a good complement. My daughter loved the story and the game that we played whenever she got a loose tooth. She began telling all her friends about it. When parents started asking me where they could get the book and doll game for their kids, I was amazed. At this point, I knew that I wanted to take my idea to the next level. I pitched the concept to my husband who loved the idea and came on board as my business partner. After many sleepless nights, meetings, research and work with manufacturers, printers and illustrators, TEETH FAIRIES: A BABY TEETH TRADITION was born.
What advice do you have for other teachers who want to do what you do?
It is a lot of work. It can be overwhelming and daunting. It is important to just take one step at a time. Don't be afraid to ask for help. We reached out to friends who always knew someone or tried to point us in the right direction when we needed help. Tap into whatever resources you may have.
If you could go back and give your 20-year old self some advice, what would it be?
Don't be afraid to take risks. There is no such thing as failure. There are only results. Believe in yourself!
Which resources do you rely on the most?
The Bible, the Harvard Business Review, and the Wall Street Journal.
When are you the happiest?
When I am able to have downtime with my family.
Do you have a favorite quote or expression?
No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn't trying.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do, be, or try?
I would have had children earlier.
Are there specific resources you use that you'd recommend to others?
The Harvard Business Review, Legal zoom, Inc.com, and Shopify
What's your next goal?
To write another book.
What's one additional question we should ask and how would you respond?
How do you balance work and a side gig with four children under 10? It is important to stay organized and prioritize tasks on a day-to-day basis. If you can structure your work schedule with a certain degree of flexibility, you can manage those unforeseen events that can happen at any time. Sharing responsibilities with my husband, support from family, and any additional help from people willing to lend a hand also goes a long way.
This teacher profile is part of SimpleK12's Extra Teacher Income series, where we interview educators about the things they're doing outside of the classroom, for both enjoyment and also a little bit of cash. To read more in this series go here, or to suggest your own story and a possible profile, go here.
If you have any questions for Ingrid or anything else related to this topic (and there will be more extra teacher income profiles and stories coming soon), please leave them below in the Comments.
For a different extra teacher income story, check on what Heather Brandon (blogging and educational consulting) is up to.
Or, follow along with full-time college prof, Dustin York, and his many side gigs.