Stride into your Side Hustle - Don't stumble
Have you ever considered starting a side business but you just were not and still are not sure how to get started?
It can be really easy to get stuck on how to get a business started especially if you have zero experience with starting your own business. But there is no need to get stuck here.
I want to share with you how I got really lucky and practically STUMBLED my way into a side hustle business a few years ago.
Back in 2008, when the economy was tanking, I was laid off from a job (which was a blessing because I really hated that job) and so I all of the sudden had a lot of time on my hands.
Now i'm not a huge fan of just sitting around; I like projects that keep me busy.
I’ve always been a pretty crafty person able to make basics items pretty easily.
I knew how to sew but I knew nothing about how to start a business.
Right around this time someone gave me the book, Sew U by Wendy Mullin. Wendy had her own clothing line called Built by Wendy and this was her first book which contained basic sewing tutorials and patterns on how to make basic garments like tshirts, sweatshirts and simple dresses.
Nothing had to be tailored and after I flipped through this book and tried a few patterns, I felt like had the basic idea about how to construct a basic garment and my small clothing line began to take shape.
I made a few dresses that friends really liked and it was at this point that I thought, "what if I could turn this into a business?"
I determined that the first thing that I needed to do was get my hands on a lot of fabric at a cheap price. I couldn’t keep going to JoAnn Fabrics and buying a few yards of fabric at a time at retail prices. So I started searching for fabric outlets online and found a few in NJ and PA.
I’m from PA so I thought ok, let me take a little trip out to Amish country Lancaster, PA and check this fabric outlet out.
I felt like I hit the jackpot when I walked into this outlet.
It was amazing because all of the material was so cheap and I had no money! I'm talking $20 for an entire bolt (about 20 yards) of fabric. I loaded my cart up with about 10 bolts and figured that would be good enough to get me started.
I went back to my kitchen in Brooklyn where I had my sewing machine setup (much to my roomate's dismay) and I sat down to sketch some dresses. After a bit of sketching, I chose 3 dress designs that I would create patterns for and then sample garments.
My plan was to create the samples and then reach out to a few shops around my neighborhood in Brooklyn to see if they would be interested in carrying my clothes.
One really great thing about living in NYC is that there is are soo many little boutique shops that will usually sell on consignment or will make very small orders. Since I was a one person operation, there was no way that I could go after a big name store like Macys or Urban Outfitters.
I’d never be able to handle that volume.
So after I sewed my 3 sample dresses, I knew that I needed to have a few pics of my dresses and at least a very basic website that I could link to when I reached out to these boutiques.
So I reached out to a friend that I knew who had a camera (this was back before phone cameras were so amazing like they are today) and asked if he would take some pictures for me. I also asked my friend of mine if she would model my dresses in the photo shoot. I think we went up to my roof, because I knew there would be good natural light and we just kept the who shoot informal and fun. The pictures turned out great.
The next step was to create a basic website using the photos and then I would be ready to shop my mini-collection around.
I had the physical product and the digital product and now I just needed some contacts for shop owners and buyers.
I quickly found out that buyer contacts are pretty easy to come by. Most of the time they’re in the About section of the shop’s website. And when all else fails, just email info@shopname. A lot of stores usually have this general email set up.
I started reaching out, letting shop buyers know that I was a new designer and wanted to show them my mini-collection.
To my absolute amazement... sweriously amazed..
I got responses back! Not from everyone, but from a few shop buyers who were genuinely enthusiastic about my mini-collection.
Getting positive responses back from shop buyers was a serious lightbulb moment for me.
I thought to myself, "wow, this is incredible".
I just created this item from scratch, which I loved doing, and pitched it to this store, which carries great brands (thats an important part of pitching too, you want to make sure the other designers that the store carries are complimentary and on your level as far as quality and design) and now they want to sell my work.
Can you imagine?
If you already sell to stores, then you know this feeling of absolute validation. And it is wonderful.
By the end of that 1st year I had my clothes in 4 boutiques, was selling on my own website and on Etsy and in-person at craft and design markets in NY and PA throughout the year.
It was a very exciting time because not only had I just built something from scratch and was getting a great response from it, but I was also making a side income!
It was kind of ironic that I had lost my job the same year, but with this new side business, I felt more in-control of my future and finances than I ever had before.
So much so that I thought,
"I know so many talented people. Why isn’t everyone doing this?"
Why isn’t everyone leaving their jobs, and starting a business related to their own personal talents and experiencing the feeling of feeling very free from the 9-5?
And then I realized the most important thing.
I hadn’t risked it all and chosen to quit my job and start a business.
I started this business as a result of being laid off. I completely STUMBLED into my side hustle because I had nothing to loose!
I mean, I really enjoyed figuring it all and I make it seem pretty easy, but the truth is, I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing.
I just got lucky.
So it dawned on me that not everyone can afford to take the risk and stumble around hoping to "figure it out" because of things like mortgage payments and children to care for (I didn’t have either of these things!).
Most people can’t just take a huge risk and say, “well, i'm sure i’ll figure out”.
But you don't have to have it all figure out to start. And you also don't have to risk it all and quit your job to start reaping some of the benefits of creating a side hustle.
So thats why, this month of Nov, i’m dedicating the blogpost and livestreams to all about how to create your DIY side hustle that you can do on the side with as much or little time as you have to spend on it per week.
We’ll be talking about how you can make it work, and how it can change your life for the better. I believe there is so much opportunity for everyone to be able to reap the rewards of the modern day side hustle.
Follow along as we dive in this month.
We’ll also be talking about
How to develop a product that your audience needs or wants
How to determine who your audience is
Where to find and tap into your audience
How to price your products
and other related topics.
And look out for Cyber Monday. Something BIG will be happening then.
Are you currently working a side hustle and if so what is it?