3 Tips To Start Your Own Side Hustle

Hey Aerie girls, me again! It’s Jenna Kutcher over here waving at you in her yoga pants and hustling behind the keyboard, but that’s what life looks like these days — but it didn’t always look like this! Today? I get to serve the world as an #AerieREAL Role Model, through The Goal Digger Podcast, my online education, and the platforms I’ve built with encouraging messages, marketing know-how, and strategies that can help others get paid to do what they love! I used to dream that I’d wear power suits and have a corner office with windows but when I found myself in a stuffy windowless office at the age of 22 with a mountain of paperwork and lurking anxiety, I knew that the ladder climbing life wasn’t for me. I started to dream of ways I could escape the corporate hustle and when I dream, I don’t dream small. I should have known, the girl who would host lemonade stands on her country dirt road that saw maybe 10 cars a day would turn into an entrepreneur but I never thought that I could truly make a go at it…. the leap felt too big, too impossible for this Midwest girl who had landed what she thought was her “dream” job out of college.

3 Tips To Start Your Own Side Hustle

By chance, I stumbled upon a camera on Craigslist. It cost $300 and at the time, I was planning my wedding and knew I wanted to document some of the processes. It was my first “big” purchase I made with my corporate salary and I quickly fell in love with photography. Having never taken an art class, I found myself trying to learn all the funny dials and numbers and would wake up wanting to take pictures. I soon after started a blog and started to share my snapshots and what was going on in our lives as we got ready for our upcoming wedding, I shared my photos on Facebook, and soon I started to get people asking if I could take pictures of their kid or their cat or basically anything. I said “YES!” to everything and couldn’t believe someone would actually pay me to do what I loved, even if it was only $20!

I shortly after realized that my time was valuable and that there was true potential for me as a photographer. I set a goal of “retiring” from corporate America within one year’s time and I hustled…. I hustled hard. I hired a designer and got a logo made, I got asked to take pictures at my brother-in-law’s wedding in Jamaica and I went big! I didn’t want to throw away that chance so I studied wedding blogs and did the best I could. Within a year I had booked enough weddings to leave behind my salary and jump into a life of full-time entrepreneurship. Fast forward to 8 years later, I’m still an entrepreneur (though it looks drastically different than those early days!) and I’ve been able to build a multi-million dollar company from my small town in Minnesota.

So maybe you’re wondering, “Wait, how did she go from a $300 Craigslist camera to a 7-figure business?” Let me tell you: it was a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of passion. First things first, it all started with a side hustle. What is a side hustle? It’s not your primary income, often times it’s a passion project or an idea that you’re trying out or considering pursuing as a business. The beauty of a side hustle is that you don’t have the pressure of having to make big profits (which can quickly crush every ounce of creativity) but you can slowly focus on building it into whatever your vision is for it.

I’ve had a lot of side hustles over the years:

– Photography was my first side hustle when I was still working my corporate job!

– I started teaching online education as a side hustle to my booming wedding photography business.

– I started the Goal Digger Podcast as a side hustle when my education business was thriving!

All of these started out of pure passion where I took an idea, put some time into it and I was able to just test things out without the fear or the pressure of them having to be successful! So maybe you’re wondering, where do I begin? I’d challenge you to start with looking at the things that you’re passionate or curious about (no matter how obscure or random they may seem) and just pursue them in a focused way! What would it look like if you just worked on those passions a few hours every week for a month? You might discover you LOVE it or maybe a new idea will come to you!

Next? Focus on what you’re naturally good at. Too often, we’re so close to our genius spots that we don’t even realize that they don’t come naturally to others. What do people always ask you about? What advice do you find yourself giving over and over? What are you known for? These things can help you to determine a potential side hustle that could not only set you up to excel but also allow you to help others! Lastly, take your time. For me: I couldn’t just jump and hope the net would appear, I needed to make sure I had a plan that was sound and stable so that I wouldn’t totally fall flat on my face. There is absolutely no shame in having your side hustle be just that: a side hustle. When I was transitioning from my 9-5, I used every extra penny from that job to fund my dream and it was the best thing I did to set myself up for success.

So I want to know: what is your big, scary dream? If you could do anything in the world, what would it be? I’d love to read your comments below and be able to cheer you on! This entrepreneur life isn’t always glamorous, a lot of times it’s long days in my sweatpants behind a computer but I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world!

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Real Talk With Nia Pettitt

We met Nia last year, and since then she’s been inspiring us with her honesty about natural beauty, insecurities and confidence. Nia’s curls were always huge part of her life—she co-founded the Go With The Fro Tour, a movement to empower women with natural curls—but when she realized that her hair was starting to define her, she knew she had to let it go. We talked to Nia about that process and what she learned from it. Read on for more from this #AerieREAL Role Model!

 

Real Talk With Nia Pettitt

You’ve recently changed your look! Tell us why you decided to cut your hair.  

I knew I wanted to let go of my hair when the image of the woman I aspired to be wasn’t who I was. I was bored of looking the same every day just for validation through social media. I felt unhappy and drained but I couldn’t figure out why until I listed all the things I felt were holding me back. I wanted a fresh start and to completely step out of my comfort zone to finally see myself. I feel amazing, I feel so confident and free.

 

Real Talk With Nia Pettitt

What did you learn in the process?

That you should never remain in a career, relationship or friendship just because of the comfort. I could’ve remained talking about hair just because it was what I built my brand on but it wasn’t what I was truly passionate about anymore. I also learned that some people will be in your life just because of how you look which is sad but it made me appreciate the people in my life who love me for me. I also learned that I used to spend way too much time doing my hair because I can now sleep for an extra hour!

 

Real Talk With Nia Pettitt

#AerieREAL is about standing together and feeling confident and comfortable in your own skin. How do you personally identify with that message?

I have never felt more confident and comfortable in my skin as my comfort used to lie within my hair. I hid all of my insecurities underneath my hair because people always gravitated towards it. At first it was fun being known for my hair but I couldn’t keep up with the image of always having to look the same, I felt obliged to always wear my hair out for the gratification of others and thats when I knew I was no longer living for myself. I now identify with it through acceptance of my natural beauty, my intelligence, my kind soul and my ability to always evolve.

Real Talk With Nia PettittWho is your role model and why?

My role model is the older version of myself. We all have this idea in our head of who we want to be and sometimes we never know how we are going to get there. Whether that is a healthier version, a smarter one, a version that is more stylish or more happy. My version is a woman that doesn’t allow likes to validate her worth, that is free with herself to be herself at all times and never feel like she has to be in a box.

Real Talk With Nia Pettitt

What makes you an #AerieREAL Role Model?

I no longer look at my flaws as flaws. I look at my stretch marks as lines of love from girl to woman. I look at my acne scars as reminders to stop stressing over unnecessary things. I look at the hair which grows on my skin as a blanket and my belly button as a cool and unique part of me. I am an #AerieREAL Role Model because I understand that the natural me is the best version of me.

How do you stay true to yourself? Comment below & tell us what makes YOU an #AerieREAL Role Model.

 

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Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

To celebrate our NEW Lincoln Road store in Miami, we partnered with our friends at Create & Cultivate for a day of Real Talk and fun with some of our #AerieREAL girls.

Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

It was a day of inspiring talks, treats and—of course—shopping!

Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln RoadTwo of our AerieREAL Role Models, Aly Raisman and Iskra Lawrence, shared a seat before the panels. Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

Panels focused on empowerment, body positivity and wellness, featuring game-changing women who are breaking stereotypes and living their dreams. Thamarr, #AerieREAL girl from Musings of a Curvy Lady, said “I love meeting other female entrepreneurs that are super passionate about using their voice for good. Their fierce desire to make things happen is so electric.”

Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

Ava Frati came to Lincoln Road to tell the story of her swimwear line, Po Swim. She started Po Swim at just 15, and we’re so excited to support her amazing brand. Check it out at our Lincoln Road store and Aerie.comBehind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

The first panel, Self-Love: Learning To Live, Love & Thrive As Ourselves, featured Fo Porter, Alex Michael May, Chante Bryant, Aly Raisman and Heather Records. The girls discussed how they keep it #AerieREAL in in and out of the public eye. Alex Michael May shared: “So many beautiful women came to #ccxaerie @createcultivate pop up at @aerie to share their hearts—to have REAL TALK about the things that connect us—imposter syndrome, loving ourselves and of course laughing through it all.”

Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

During the second panel, Unfiltered & Fierce: Navigating The Digital World With Authenticity, speakers Jenna Kutcher, Katie Sturino, Daniela Ramirez, Iskra Lawrence and Jaclyn Johnson talked about their presence on social media and how they’ve stayed true to themselves while their social followings have grown.

Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

After Real Talk, girls were invited to a mocktails where they were able to meet speakers and mingle. Aly Raisman was there to sign her new book, “Fierce.”

Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

From DIY dream pillows and name plates to a sundae bar, sweetness was spread all around at the Lincoln Road opening. #AerieREAL girl Noyemi summed it up this week: “Last weekend was nothing short of amazing. Thanks to @createcultivate & @aerie for hosting an event highlighting the importance of self acceptance and positive body image. Thank you to all the panelists who killed it with their energy!”

Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

Behind The Scenes: Real Talk At Lincoln Road

Check out our Facebook events for upcoming fun at Lincoln Road, and come see us to shop any time. See you soon!

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