syracuse side hustles

E8: Memories Constructed

Blanket ladders, shelves, and tables serve as some of the pieces insurance agent Craig Donnelly builds with the hope the items will become family heirlooms.
Craig Donnelly

The tables and things that I'm making — that's what families gather around. I'm hoping that those same people make those memories.


Craig Donnelly



Side Hustle:

Founder, Donnelly Designs Woodworking


Claims Agent

Who is your hustle hero?

The drive to make it on my own is certainly from my father. He had a hot-air balloon when he was younger. He built bobsled frames that were used in the Olympics. He built race cars. He’s always been a part of everything. He can fix everything. That's where I really get it from.

Where do you get your materials?

The hardwood was found by myself and my father and a family friend of ours a decade ago. He owns a few hundred acres. So we cut it down, dragged it out of the woods with the tractors, and took it to the sawmill. And then they've been air drying all this time. So the hardwood is all locally sourced. Some of the others are from the Orange Delphi valley, which is on the way to Cazenovia.

Where have you found support for your side hustle?

The woodworking world on Instagram right now is just being overrun by women, and it's so cool. Sawdust is man glitter.

Craig Donnelly
Since its start in December 2018, Craig Donnelly’s woodworking business has sold more than 100 ladders. But beyond the sales, Donnelly welcomes woodworking’s ability to reduce the stress of his day job handling insurance. Photo by Weng Cheong.

What's the most important thing for an aspiring woodworker to know?

The most important thing for any side-hustling woodworker to know is you're going to screw up a lot. It's going to cost your money. You just have to find the way to do it and be open to trying new things and failing. And don't cut yourself badly.

Connect with Donnelly

On Instagram