Sara Cheek always knew she wanted to have a career in the beauty industry. Having watched her aunt growing up who was a successful salon owner and stylist in Arizona, she knew that she would want to follow the same path one day. But Cheek graduated a year early from high school, and wanted to take college classes. Instead, she ended up getting her master’s at The Hawk. Then, in 2009, she enrolled in Cosmetology School. She would give birth to her daughter, and shortly after she was born she had her son. As a new mom, she went back to school to get a personal training certificate. But her heart was not in, so she went full circle and returned to pursue a career in the hair industry. To support herself during these college years, she worked at Hooters. “Not exactly lucrative money,” she says, “but good money for a single girl to be able to support herself.”
Cheek worked hard to finish college, raise her children, and make a living. But shortly after Covid hit and thousands of Americans faced uncertain financial futures, she was receiving requests asking her if she had OnlyFans, after she experienced a boom in Instagram followers. She soon found just what a viable financial option this could be, now drawing about $30,000 most months. Reaping the rewards of her new venture, she recently decided to purchase a ranch in Florida where she lives. But the process has been far from the simple, idyllic hopes she had when buying the land. When she went to make the payment she was told that she couldn’t pay it in full unless it was on a debit card, prepaid card, or check. Her bank wouldn’t let her make a transaction that big on her debit card, prepaid cards had certain rules and requirements, and a check would have taken 2-3 weeks to process in their system.
”I was on a time crunch, I had been told several different things by each agent I talked to,” she says. Finally, she was told to overnight a cashier’s check to a certain address. She called the next day and was told by an agent that she sent it to the wrong place, and that it would be forwarded to a different address, taking 2-3 weeks to even be seen. “It was a stressful, extremely frustrating situation,” she says. “I’m trying to pay the entirety of my student loan, and they wouldn’t take a wire transfer or give me anybody to talk to that could give me accurate info or peace of mind.”
Cheek believes the difficulty in paying off the loan partly stemmed from the source of the income. “There is absolutely a stigma surrounding OnlyFans and those that do it,” she says. But being able to provide for her family makes it worth it, and she’s now been able to pay off her student loans, purchase a ranch, put her son in travel hockey, and more. “Of course going through certain things because you do OnlyFans, like not having friends, or not being liked by moms because they think you’re doing X, Y, or Z, is a big downfall of the job.” She says the dreaded “What do you do for a living?” can cause people to change how they interact with her.
It’s especially taxing when it affects her day to day like paying the bills or making big financial decisions. “I think it’s important that we hold these companies accountable,” she says. “Paying a student loan should not be a hard task, and each employee should be given the proper training and information.” She adds that she feels a decline in work ethic contributed to why it was so difficult. “It’s almost like customer service is a thing of the past. I believe that when people do something they should do it to the best of their ability, this is a standard that I hold myself to and each member of my family.”