UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) students and residents of Isla Vista have been hit hard financially since the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order came into effect. To alleviate these hardships, two UCSB students recently created a Facebook group called “I.V. HUSTLES” in order to spotlight student-run businesses in the neighborhood.
“People just don’t have jobs anymore or are missing out on hours of work, and potentially have more free time,” explained Lea Toubian in an interview with The Bottom Line (TBL). Toubian, a third-year political science and environmental studies double major, and Tianna White, a third-year political science student, launched “I.V. HUSTLES” last Friday. Both Toubian and White are running for executive positions within Associated Students (AS) for the upcoming school year, and White specifically noted that she started the page as part of her election campaign to bridge the gap between the UCSB student body and Associated Students.
According to the group’s description, its purpose is to support small and local businesses, and “keep our little community thriving.” White told TBL, “It’s all about establishing the hustle now to support current and future Gauchos.”
Communication takes place between the buyer and seller, but both Toubian and White monitor the page to ensure everyone practices social distancing and that posts better suited for different outlets are advertised in those respective groups. Unlike “Free & For Sale,” UCSB’s largest social media online market, “I.V. HUSTLES” is focused on students and Isla Vistans who have businesses and services to offer.
Rather than selling items like clothing, textbooks, and furniture that may be gone within a few days, Toubian said that she wants the page to be sustainable, continuing long after the quarantine has been lifted.
So far, the page has over 600 members and several posts with many positive reactions. Adam Chohan, the president of the UCSB chapter of Quokka Brew, a student-run coffee company selling the first fully caffeinated jitter-less coffee, told TBL in a virtual interview that the group provides an effective way to reach UCSB’s population outside of other pages like housing and rideshares.
Other members have also posted on the site publicizing their products like vegan edible brownies, handmade jewelry and masks, and services such as resume-building tips.
“‘I.V. HUSTLES’ came about at the perfect time for helping people gain more traction and income for their businesses,” said Chohan. “After the quarantine, it will still be a great way to keep people updated on what [Quokka Brew] is doing.”
White also mentioned that affordable beauty services, like hair and nail salons, are in high demand among students due to the scarcity and high prices of existing shops in I.V. Toubian echoed her, underscoring the advantage that Isla Vista’s isolated nature brings as “not everyone has the time to get a job and there’s so much talent on this campus.”
While the page is intended for Gauchos in and around the Isla Vista area, White said it is acceptable for a person outside of this community to make a post as long as it is legitimate. As the page continues to grow, she said she would like to consider implementing community guidelines, especially regarding political posts.
“I just want to support students and don’t want the page to get confused with something that already exists like ‘Free & For Sale,’” White noted. In the future, she would like to recruit more students to be moderators and administrators of the page, to maintain and expand it in order to continue helping students. “All I can hope is that students enjoy it and benefit from it.”
Toubian added that “so much of our lives have been disrupted so now, more than ever, it is important that we continue to support each other and local businesses.” White echoed her sentiments, “We go through a lot of ups and downs at UCSB so if ‘I.V. HUSTLES’ even helps just one person, that’s a win in my book.”