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Thinking outside of the 9 to 5
Thinking outside of the 9 to 5

Thinking outside of the 9 to 5

By Julian Zastrocky Indy Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 30, 2022 | Number of views (4605)

What better way to make a little extra money than a side hustle. Some students at Fort Lewis College sometimes need a little extra money, so they use their interests and skills to make the extra cash they need. But other times that little extra cash can turn into more. 

Devyn Valandra is a sophomore at FLC, majoring in entrepreneurship. When he was a senior in high school, he took a business class and through that, started his coffee company, he said.

Valandra knew nothing about coffee and said that it was a spontaneous choice. At the start, he call his new company ‘Exhilarate Coffee’ but has since changed the name to ‘Wakĥályapí’ (Wa-Kal-ya-p) Coffee’  a Lakota word meaning coffee. 

Valandra had a huge culture shock getting into coffee, trying to figure out the meaning of the different words and the number of ways coffee is made, and he said he is still learning. Valandra said that Wakĥályapí has also helped him better understand business and networking

Valandra has incorporated more than just the uniqueness of his culture and knowledge of business into Wakĥályapí, he said. Valandra said he wanted to give his coffee uniqueness of taste, which inspired him to try to blend sage with his coffee. 

Valandra said It didn't work at first, but had a great test crew, recruiting the students in the dorms he was in his first year to try different batches, Valandra said. 

Valandra buys his beans in bulk from overseas, mostly purchasing dark and medium roasts, he said. He is continually experimenting with different amounts of sage and has free samples at his table whenever he is selling in the Student Union Building. Right now, he’s trying to set up a QR code survey to collect input about what people think of his samples.   

Valandra would like to expand his business and allow it to grow but said he is okay if this goes under. 

“If I fumble this, it's okay,” Valandra said. 

He said that his ideal expansion would be to open a drive-through or coffee shop, wanting it to be on campus so students have another place to hang out or to take the business back to his community in North Dakota.     

Valandra had to sacrifice a bit to get his company where it is, he said. His advice to anyone looking to start their own side-hustle would be that the best way to get it going is to talk to people that know and have gone through it, he said.

Other Skyhawk Side Hustles: 

Kristi Lee, a senior studying accounting, said she needed a little extra money to help pay for her commute to campus. As a solution, she said she chose to make earrings of what she likes. She said she looks online for things to make into designs and then crafts them into earrings. She explained that she doesn't have an official site and just advertises on the official Fort Lewis student app, with regular orders every week. 


Laurel Grimes, is a junior who is majoring in Indigenous studies and communication design, with minors in studio art and honors. She is part Chickasaw and Vietnamese and said she wanted to incorporate her cultures’ beading techniques and create jewelry with an eye on modern styles that can be incorporated with any look. She explained that started as a sophomore and has expanded into more of a business with an Instagram account called ‘laurelanh.art.’ This has allowed her to create a community around her work that also allows it to expand through word of mouth, she said. 


Rubie Trotter is a senior, majoring in organismal biology and entrepreneurial small businesses. Two years ago, she said she was working at a local plant nursery and began to hear that there were customers who needed help with their plants and their gardens, growing and weeding, so Trotter decided to offer help for a fee. Trotter said she doesn't work much in the winter but gets plenty of work in the summer months. Trotter has always loved being around plants and weeding, and wants things to expand and hopefully start a holistic health center. 


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