People have worn all different kinds of hats during the pandemic. For Gautier Coiffard, it’s a toque.
During the day, Coiffard, 32, works as an engineer. But pre-dawn, he and his wife, Ashley, a 31-year-old former mortgage processor, have turned his pandemic side hustle, baking bread, into a booming business.
The native of France, who moved here in 2012, had been desperate for bread that reminded him of home — but it either didn’t exist or was too expensive (“$10 for a small loaf,” he told The Post). So Coiffard, who’d never made bread before, began whipping up the carb-y specialties he missed so badly after he found himself home with time on his hands.
Prior to that, “I didn’t recognize the bread I used to eat in France,” said Coiffard, who, after some trial and error, launched the boulangerie business L’appartement 4F, named after the couple’s 475-square-foot apartment in Cobble Hill. The bread-baking upstarts now juggle up to 15 orders a day, six days a week, for their $4 croissants, $3 sourdough baguettes and $3 tahini chocolate-chip cookies. Since June, the couple said they’ve made roughly $350 a day in sales, with repeat customers ordering up to two weeks in advance.
For some locals, the pandemic has had the silver lining of transforming hobbies into lucrative gigs.
Jessica Fineburg had just gotten her real estate license before the pandemic hit, leaving her with grim financial prospects. To occupy her boys, ages 8 and 4, during the downtime in March, the married mom from Westfield, NJ, bought a $15 loom kit that quickly became an addiction.
“They said, ‘Mom, you bought this for us. Stop sitting there and making stuff for yourself,’ ” Fineburg recalled.
She started posting her colorful beaded bracelets on social media and a local mom’s group. “I think I had 30 messages in the first hour,” she said. Today she looms for 10 hours a day in her dining room to keep up with demand for her $12 bracelets, which she ships all over the country, via her “Looms by Jess” Instagram page.
“I always wanted to have my own business,” said the 39-year-old, who also added $28 mask chains to her offerings. “I’m turning 40 in October, and this is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Now that her work is being carried by six retailers, as well as the boho-chic label LoveShackFancy, and wholesalers want to work with her, Fineburg estimates netting some $12,000 so far. “It’s insane what’s happened since March with my business,” she said. “This is my pandemic silver lining.”
Lockdown has given an inadvertent boost to the fledgling tennis racket stringing business of Pierre Reveilles, a former bartender at Cafe Mogador. The sport is not only socially distanced, but city parks haven’t been requiring permits for public courts.
“I feel like everybody is playing tennis right now — you’re pretty far away from each other. You’re outside. It’s a safe sport, definitely,” said the native Frenchman, 51, who charges $25 to $45 for stringing, and has been so busy, he’s looking to hire an intern.
The coronavirus crisis has also changed the life of Megan Kerrigan, whose party-planning side hustle has blown up.
When she was quoted a prohibitive price for balloons for the April birthday of her 5-year-old daughter, Priscilla, Kerrigan balked.
“Five hundred dollars is crazy. I thought to myself, ‘Why do I feel like I’m two YouTube videos away from figuring out how to do this inexpensively?’ ” recalled the 41-year-old, who lives in Sheepshead Bay.
And so she studied videos on the art of balloon-making and fashioned the decorations herself. “I loved doing it,” she said.
Her new-found quarantine hobby ballooned into a bustling business, Balloontique by Megan, and gained a steady following on social media for her balloon arches, bouquets, and mosaic numbers and letters, which she blows up with an air compressor for communions, weddings and engagement parties.
“Thank God I love it,” said Kerrigan, who works in medical-device sales, but whose paycheck has been hard hit by the pandemic. “I’m really hoping to make up for the commission I’m not getting.”
It’s certainly been fun for daughter Priscilla. “She doesn’t know what she’s waking up to in the morning,” said Kerrigan, who stays up until 2:30 a.m. working on the decorations, which she keeps in the living room and storage closets.
It’s inflating her bottom line, too, as she’s booked into November for balloon bouquets that start at $65 and can crack $650 for balloon-wall backdrops and reach up to $800 for big parties.
“I thought this was just going to be a fun project,” she said. “I didn’t think people were going to hire me and actually pay me money to do something I really love.”