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 Hannah Skvarla from The Little Market

Hannah Skvarla co-founded The Little Market to empower women and support brighter futures for the artisans around the world. We talked with this #AerieREAL Role Model about her non-profit, the positive impact she’s making on the world and what it means to be #AerieREAL. Read all about it below!

Real Talk with Hannah Skvarla from The Little Market

You are Co-Founder of The Little Market. What inspired you to start a non-profit?

Lauren and I have always felt a responsibility to help others. We love traveling and have had the opportunity to meet incredible women who are surviving and thriving because of the help of nonprofits. When we travel, we love to visit local marketplaces and support local artisans.  We realized that if we could bring these handmade products to a wider audience, then the artisans would be able to support themselves and their families while making their beautiful goods.

In 2013, we founded The Little Market, a nonprofit, fair trade shop with a collection of artisan-made goods from around the world. We ethically source products from 60 artisan groups in 28 countries. By bringing these beautiful artisan-made goods to customers, women can support themselves and their families while preserving cultural techniques that have been passed down for generations. Through The Little Market, we can empower women around the world, without a limit by geography.

We work with artisan groups from marginalized, rural communities to share their beautiful products with a wider audience. We seek out partnerships with artisan groups that follow fair trade practices and empower women. Many of the artisan co-ops and social enterprises provide much-needed resources such as job and skills training, access to education, and family healthcare. Every purchase of fair trade goods creates sustainable jobs and a positive, long-lasting impact. By shopping fair trade, our collective efforts generate meaningful opportunities and help to combat poverty, empower artisans, and create social justice.

Being a nonprofit was a clear decision for us because we started it to help others, not to personally gain. As a nonprofit, all profits are dedicated to expanding operations and reaching more artisan groups.

The Little Market is fair trade. Why was this business decision so important to you?

Every purchase of fair trade goods creates sustainable jobs and a positive, long-lasting impact for artisans and their communities. Fair trade ensures that marginalized producers earn a fair, sustainable wage, work in safe and supportive environments, implement environmentally conscious and sustainable practices, and preserve their cultural identity. Through fair trade and equitable trading partnerships, artisans and other small-scale producers have a platform to sell their goods for a sustainable price. It is very important for us to ensure our products are made while following fair trade principles.

We love hearing concrete examples of the positive impact fair trade has on the artisan groups we work with. Earning a fair income means that artisans do not have to keep their children home from school to work to supplement the family income — this allows the children to go to school, often becoming the first in their family to attend middle or high school. Many artisans can purchase more nutritious and healthier food, which leads to fewer medical problems like worms.

Personally, when thinking about the importance of shopping with purpose, I love the quote by Anna Lappé that says, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” With each purchase, a vote is casted. When purchasing items that are fair trade and ethically made, you are valuing the well-being and story of the individual behind a product. As conscious shoppers, we can make a positive impact through fair trade, ethically sourced goods and show respect for human rights.

Real Talk with Hannah Skvarla from The Little Market

What makes you an #AerieREAL Role Model?

I believe in the power behind empowering women, using our voices to lift each other up, and speaking up against injustices. I love the message and mission behind #AerieREAL — it is incredibly important for women to support each other. Women are one of the most underserved populations. For instance, with the current pay gap, women earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men in the United States; this is greater for women of color. Women face a greater risk of experiencing domestic violence. And we are underrepresented in government. Knowing the disparities and inequalities women face around the world, we founded The Little Market to empower women in marginalized communities. When we have opportunities to earn a sustainable income, we can work toward a brighter future for themselves and their families. I am honored to be an #AerieREAL Role Model and to support authentic beauty and women empowerment.

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

Encouraging women to stand together and to feel confident and comfortable is very important to me. Growing up, I remember feeling like I would never look like the women I would see in magazines or on TV. The images and messaging that I was exposed to through media made me feel like women were valued based on their looks. As a mother to a little girl, it is more important to me than ever to tell girls and women that they are beautiful just as they are. Each of us is different and that’s what makes each of us uniquely beautiful.

Who is your role model and why?

I have always been fascinated by Jane Goodall. Jane has always done things that prior to her work people believed were impossible. She worked jobs that no woman had ever worked before. Before her years of research, scientists did not believe that animals had emotions. She discovered the complex social behaviors and personalities of chimpanzees during her 50 years of observing them. For instance, her research uncovered that chimps can not only use tools, but they can make them as well. Observations like these led to rethinking our connections with humans and animals. She has been dedicated to activism from animal rights to environmental causes.

As an animal rights activist, she speaks up for those without a voice. I have always believed that it is our responsibility to use our voice to speak for those who don’t have one. Many women around the world are treated as if their voices do not matter. We have learned that when a woman has her own income, this can change. Several of the inspiring artisans we work with have shared with us that now that they have a way to make money, domestic violence has decreased and men treat them more equally.

Jane Goodall has not only made breakthrough discoveries through her research, but she has also taught us the power of using our voices to make a difference. She found causes she was passionate about at a young age, bravely set out to pursue her research, and reshaped our understanding of the connection between humans and animals. We can all learn the power of following our passions, using our voices, and showing compassion for others from Jane Goodall.

 

What makes you an #AerieREAL Role Model? Join the movement and share your story!

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