I used to work at an independently owned wedding/prom dress shop that would buy cheap dresses and slightly modify them and then sell them for 50 times the price. I was initially told by the other workers that it's an easy job where you mostly just sat around doing nothing all day. One or two sells would usually be our goal during the slow seasons. I was hired and told I'd be paid $8 an hour before training and $12 an hour after. My wage stayed at $8.
My manager was a hard ass, always asking me to look busy for the customers whenever she would watch me on the camera. It usually seemed like nobody was working in the store because the stuff I'd do would hide me from customers. I was only looking busy to her and no one else. I also have scoliosis, so being on my feet for more than 30 minutes usually hurts like hell on my back, but as long as she was watching the cameras from her house, I had to be doing something even when there was absolutely nothing going on to work with.
My boss would specifically get onto me more than the other workers. My husband came over once for less than a minute while she was there so he could grab something from me. A few minutes after he left she lectured me about how I shouldn't be having my husband in the store around other customers and how it makes the store look bad. Next week, one of the other employees had their husband in the store for 30+ minutes waiting for her to clock out and the boss didn't say anything to her about it. She then started implementing rules like how we should all wear the same colored shirts so we're easier to identify as an employee and how we should have hair that's a natural color so we look more respectable. It was just my hair, though. The other employee with clearly unnatural dyed hair was told hers was fine. Even though our customers were mostly 16-25 year old women who would constantly compliment my hair, I was told to look more normal.
I'd also get called out for the littlest things that most people wouldn't care about. She even told me that I only had the job because the other girl she wanted to hire didn't show up and she had to be convinced to give me a chance. She didn't expect me to actually have good customer service even though I mentioned working for a pizza place for 2 years talking to customers. She would belittle the stuff I had to say and ignore my suggestions.
One time her computer wouldn't start and instead of listening to me when I told her I was certified with IT repair, she just threw it away and bought a $1,000 gaming computer. It was just for the register and nothing else. She made so much money from this store that she would waste cash like that and it wouldn't hurt her. She took trips to places like Los Angelas and South Korea, but wouldn't pay me more than $8 an hour. When i asked her if I could get paid at least $10 to make up for gas, she told me she couldn't afford it because she just spent $1,000 on the computer (that would have been paid off after selling 2 dresses max). Few days later, a girl came in and asked about getting hired and she said yes. Couldn't spend $2 more an hour for one employee but can spend $8 on another.
I started doing stuff outside of this shop to make money. My 2 dogs had accidentally gotten pregnant and I decided to sell the puppies. I used the money to get my dogs fixed and to buy a 3D printer. I started making stuff that I liked and I decided to sell some Nintendo related prints on marketplace. I got so many sales from it that I started buying more stuff to make things easier for me. More boxes, more filament, a printer for shipping labels, and a second 3d printer. I started expanding some of the items I'd make and still get a bunch of sales.
One day I had gotten my check from the dress shop and it was $140. I thought about the week I recently had there. My back was sore, my fingers were burned from steaming the dresses, my days were full of boredom and loneliness, the gas was expensive, my boss picks at me, I was told to change my hair, and I wasn't even getting paid the $12 an hour that I was promised. The store was about to hit prom season and I knew that meant more standing, more people in the store, and more chances of my boss actually coming in and standing over me watching every little thing I do and constantly criticizing me. That weekend, I had made at least $200 on commissions and regular orders for my 3D prints and all I really needed to do was hit a few buttons and then box the items up when they were done.
I texted my boss that I was done working for her. I got my last check and dropped off the key. The girl working there told me to “have a nice life” when I left. Next month, Covid hit. I most likely would have been out of a job by then. The store didn't open up during that time except for online. They were getting complaints and poor reviews from people who wanted to return prom dresses since there was no prom that year, but the boss wouldn't allow it. Weddings were called off or pushed back so the store had little sales on their website. Even the reviews after the store opened back up are full of people complaining that the owner is impatient, rude, and body shames.
I dont know what happened to the other employees since she's the only one who works there, but I was still getting really good sales. I had money saved up from working at the shop for 6 months and put in a down payment on a cheap house where the mortgage would be $550 a month. Meaning I needed to make $10,000 minimum per year not including groceries to pay for my bills. In 2020, I made $30,000 on sales alone. In 2021, I made an Etsy and increased my profits by $10,000. This year, I plan to expand what I sell and what materials I use. I also plan on entering costume contests and using any prize money I may win to help pay my house off early. I pay 2 to 3 times more on my mortgage and I'm on my way to paying my house off in 3-4 years. I have the freedom to do what I want when I want. I can drive out and visit my family whenever, I can spend more time with my husband and my pets, I can get into more hobbies, and once the house is paid off, I can comfortably start a family.