Jane Labowitch picked up her first Etch A Sketch at the age of four and “didn’t stop using it.” In high school, Labowitch, also known as Princess Etch, was a pro. However, she had to struggle to decide whether to take the risk and pursue art school or play it safe and major in math.
Labowitch, 30, told CNBC Make: “One day I was in AP Calculus class, doodling in the margins, I looked down and that was my shining moment, this is my passion. mine”. It.
But following her passion comes with a hefty price tag. After graduating from high school, the Michigan native moved to Chicago to study at the American Academy of Arts, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in illustration. After graduating, she was left with $53,000 in student debt.
By living with a roommate, working part-time while working on Etch A Sketch artwork, and buying a car, Labowitch can start paying $750 a month on student loans. soon after graduation and reduced her debt to $13,484.58 by March 2022.
“I am very adamant about attacking those loans,” said Labowitch. “I can say specifically about $20,000 of that is from Sallie Mae. And I’m particularly determined to pay off all that money before my federal loans, knowing that the private loans are private. may follow different rules.”
To pay off outstanding balances, Labowitch got creative. By leveraging her following TikTok and unique Etch A Sketch art, she managed to pay off her remaining student loans in 30 days.
Like many millennials, Labowitch joined TikTok at the beginning of the pandemic. She started experimenting with live streaming her drawing process after losing the chance to meet in person.
“I lost a lot of the work that I was doing with my sketch art, like teaching workshops, attending live events, and drawing live portraits. So TikTok is this new avenue to discover what I can do with it.”
Labowitch started accepting donations on its live streams to purchase new limited edition Etch A Sketches. She didn’t know that she would start making money as quickly as at first.
“I found this very silly Etch A Sketch on eBay. And I said, ‘Okay guys, any money I’m getting today is going to buy this ridiculous thing I don’t need in my life. life.” And it’s unbelievable. Just like that, in an hour, I raised $60. I did it again with a farm-themed Etch A Sketch and it was $40. “
Shocked by the support of her followers to get her these “arbitrary” items, Labowitch decided to make the art of live streaming for a larger cause: wiping out student loan debt. mine.
On March 31, Labowitch informed her TikTok followers that she would be doing live-streamed portraits to raise “commissions”. Commissions are the lowest form of currency users can exchange on the app, each app is worth half a cent.
While donations are not required, many of her viewers have been happy to help raise funds after seeing her talent. To repay her $13,484.58 loan, Labowitch will have to raise 2,669,916 roses from viewers.
To track her progress, Labowitch drew a giant “rose meter” and hung it on the wall, coloring her progress after each live stream.
“I was 5% of the way to achieving my goal in one day. From that point on, I kept updating everyone on how things were going. And I received a lot of support. .”
With support, many critics have suggested that Labowitch get a “real job” instead of streaming for money.
“In the beginning, I had a lot of people saying, ‘Oh, you’re never going to make this, just keep dreaming.’ And as time goes on, the tune turns into something like, ‘How did you have the guts to do this?’ “
Despite the naysayers, after 30 days and a total of 117 hours of live streaming, Labowitch made enough money to pay off her loans and then some, moments that she can only describe as “” totally surreal.”
“It was the biggest one-time payment I’ve ever made in my adult life. Just hit that button and realized that over $13,000 had just been withdrawn from my bank account in a single day. falls. The amazing relief is probably the best way to describe it.”
Immediately after paying off his student loans, Labowitch decided to start another fundraiser for a new computer setup. But soon after, the reversal of Roe V. Wade causing her to shelve those plans.
“I’ve decided to pause this specific fundraiser I’m working on. I’ve done a smaller fundraiser for Planned Parenthood. But what I wanted to do was use my platform for philanthropic efforts. future improvement, finding the right cause at the right time, while being able to maintain and sustain myself.”
From June 24 to June 30, Labowitch received 28,716 TikTok “diamonds”, each worth 5 cents. This means $143.58, which she rounded to $150.
Labowitch is continuing to make Etch A Sketch art streamed to her 475,000 TikTok followers, in addition to commissions and running her own shop on Etsy. She hopes her journey will enable others to follow their dreams and accept them for who they are, even as they’re pursuing what others might consider a “silly career”.
“Just take advantage of you, because you’re awesome. I think that’s true for everyone. Just accept who you are, there’s no shame and people will love that about you.”