22-year-old turned Roblox side hustle into a business bringing in over $100,000 a year


Kyasia Watson made 2 cents the first time she sold clothes on Roblox, the online metaverse gaming platform — now, that same side hustle earns her over $100,000 a year.

Watson, 22, began playing Roblox games in 2011 when she was 8 years old after seeing an ad for it on Google.

Roblox launched in 2006. At its core, Roblox is an app where you can play games designed by other users or create your own games, virtual experiences, avatar clothing, and more through Roblox Studio. Each player is given one avatar per account, which can be changed and customized at any time.

Unimpressed with the limited clothing catalog offered for Roblox avatars, Watson taught herself how to create digital fashion designs in Photoshop.

“I was just a bored kid on the computer,” she tells CNBC Make It. “And I always loved art and anything creative. I carried a sketchbook with me everywhere, even when my family was going out to dinner, I’d be doodling at the table. Sketching outfits on the computer felt no different.” 

Watson posted her first design on Roblox, a purple ruffle tank top paired with denim shorts and sandals, in 2013 under the username @cSapphire. She saw her first profit after selling a couple hundred copies of the outfit. It didn’t matter that it was less than a dollar — as Watson recalls, she was “instantly hooked.” 

But Watson’s boutique wasn’t an overnight success. It took the Connecticut native 10 years to grow her side hustle into a six-figure business. 

On Roblox, $1 is equivalent to about $100 in Robux, the platform’s currency, based on the current exchange rate. When an item is sold in Roblox’s marketplace, a portion of the sale is split between the item’s creator and Roblox. Watson retains about 30% of the commission on a sale. On Roblox, clothing and accessories can sell for as little as 2 Robux to as much as 2 million.

In 2023, Watson’s first year as a freelance 3D artist and virtual fashion designer on Roblox, she earned about $110,000, according to financial documents reviewed by CNBC Make It. 

Watson's Roblox avator, cSapphire, in front of the Roblox boutique Watson runs.
Watson’s Roblox avator, cSapphire, in front of the Roblox boutique Watson runs.
Photo: Kyasia Watson

Becoming a digital fashion designer wasn’t her first choice career. Still, Watson says it’s a path that’s afforded her the creative and financial freedom she never believed possible in her 20s — especially without a college degree. 

Watson graduated high school in 2019 and enrolled in an online nursing program — but two years into college, she says she felt burned out and uninspired. 

“I wasn’t excited about what I was learning,”  she recalls. “But once I finished school and logged onto Roblox, it was like a switch flipped, I felt much more passionate and engaged with what I was doing.” 

She decided to leave college in late 2021 and pursue a career at Roblox. For the next two years, Watson worked remotely as a full-time designer for two different Roblox studios and maintained her boutique side hustle. 

At the same time, Roblox was growing rapidly: In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of daily active users jumped 85% to 32.6 million, with 17- to 24-year-olds leading the charge. 

Apparel and footwear companies such as Gap, American Eagle, and Nike started following their consumers to the platform, launching Roblox games and experiences.

That’s when Watson saw the potential to scale her side hustle into a full-time business.

She started pitching herself to brands on the Roblox platform, sharing links to her digital portfolio and offering to help them build their catalog of avatar items. 

Those conversations led to collaborations with Gucci, Forever 21, and other household fashion brands. Each project paid thousands of dollars — a commission that gave Watson the confidence to quit her studio gigs in early 2023 and become a full-time freelancer. 

As a freelancer, Watson’s main sources of income are partnering with brands to design clothes and accessories for avatars, events, games, or special capsule collections on Roblox and selling clothes in her boutique. 

She typically works on two to three projects at a time, but some weeks she could be working on as many as seven, depending on demand. Roblox has more than 77 million daily active users as of March 2024, the platform reports. 

The best part about being a Roblox freelancer, Watson says, is the flexibility: She works remotely from her apartment in Connecticut in the afternoons and evenings, usually for five hours a day.

Watson plans to continue her freelance career and learn additional programming and design skills so she can expand her offerings. “I’m teaching myself how to design buildings and environmental landscapes on Roblox so I can become an environmental artist for games,” she says. 

As metaverse projects like Roblox break further into the mainstream and gaming surges, virtual fashion is increasingly in demand. But there’s still “a lot of misconceptions” about these technologies and the communities flocking to the platforms they’ve spawned, says Watson. 

“I run a pretty profitable business that’s connected with millions of people but I still hear it all the time that ‘Oh, Roblox is a kids’ game,’” she says. “But many of the top-selling artists and developers are adults. It’s a great career for someone who is creative and doesn’t feel fulfilled by the confines of a 9-to-5 job.”

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