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How a Woman's Childhood Nickname 'Weird Cheese Girl' Inspired Her Successful Side Hustle

Caroline Hesse operates her successful cheese-mongering business from a Brooklyn warehouse.
Cover Image Source: Instagram | @cnbcmakeit
Cover Image Source: Instagram | @cnbcmakeit

As financial security and adequate savings become harder to achieve, innovative side hustles are being launched by young people who are combining entrepreneurial spirit with their passion. Caroline Hesse, a 32-year-old entrepreneur in Brooklyn, earned $400,000 last year by selling cheese through her own business, C. Hesse Cheese. As a child, Hesse would practice writing her name and was unhappy with the way it could be shortened to "C. Hesse," as it resembled the word "cheese." She recalls disliking the similarity, admitting she didn't want to be known as "the weird cheese girl."

Instagram | @chesse_cheese
Image Source: Instagram | @chesse_cheese

Now, twenty-five years later, Hesse proudly embraces her cheese-related nickname, calling herself "the weird cheese woman." She operates her successful cheese-mongering business from a Brooklyn warehouse, transforming her childhood aversion into a thriving career.

The entrepreneur distinguishes herself from traditional cheesemongers by operating without a physical storefront. Instead, she describes herself as a "wholesale" cheesemonger, delivering cheese to clients such as restaurants, shops, and catering companies through her shipping partners.

Pexels | Photo by NastyaSensei
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by NastyaSensei

Though her young business has yet to turn a profit, financial records obtained by CNBC Make It show she generated approximately $400,000 in revenue in 2023. Her consumer-base extends beyond New York City, reaching shops in Florida, Texas, and New Mexico.

Hesse's workweek typically involves 70 to 80 hours of tasks such as sourcing cheeses, securing new business opportunities, and personally preparing and shipping orders. She also hosts regular open houses at her Brooklyn warehouse, where customers can purchase as much cheese as they want for a flat rate of $25 per pound.

Hesse has amassed over 100,000 followers on TikTok and several thousand on Instagram, who track her cheesemonger journey. This has led her to embrace her dairy-inspired initials in her business name. "I received a lot of feedback warning against naming a business after myself," she explains. "But I view this business as an extension of who I am, and sharing my name with it just adds a special touch."

In response to her inspiring videos, many viewers expressed enthusiasm, with one user, one user, @kristiananoel, commenting, "WAIT!! I’m visiting Cincinnati and someone at the Rhined told me about you and didn’t realize it was YOU!! I’ve followed you for so long." @CHESSE replied to the user, saying, "ARE YOH SERIOUS??? I LOVE THE RHINED!!! Meg is the best!!!"

Another user, @rosaleerunkel, inquired, "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!???!???? I’ve been wondering where you’ve gone. I missed your videos." @kindofinteressant expressed their support, "Wishing you and your cheese the very best!" Hesse responded with gratitude, saying, "Thank you!!" @Lianak shared her admiration with, "I love this," while @Natalierae exclaimed, "Omg yaaaaaaas!!!"


C. Hesse Cheese is hitting the big time!

♬ original sound - CHESSE

A household staple, cheese stars in snacks, sandwiches, and many other dishes across American kitchens.

The convenience and adaptability of cheese as a quick-meal option further bolsters its popularity. Online distribution channels are gaining traction, offering consumers convenience and access to a wide range of cheese varieties. With a forecasted market value expected to reach $48.52 billion by 2030, the cheese market in the United States is not slowing down anytime soon.