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 Erin Drischler Of The Garment Project

Erin Drischler founded The Garment Project, a non-profit that aims to empower women recovering from eating disorders by providing them with new, size-less clothing, individualized for their healthy bodies and lifestyles. We got to know Erin and the story behind her incredible non-profit—read on for more.

Real Talk With Erin Drischler Of The Garment Project

 

What inspired you to start The Garment Project?

I wanted to start telling a different story. There were so many years where I felt stuck in a loop as the ‘sick girl’. I decided that I want to be a voice for those who feel that same hopelessness. For me, clothing and sizing was a huge part of my eating disorder recovery. Returning home from treatment to a closet full of clothes that didn’t fit my body or soul is a struggle that not many in recovery think of prior to it staring them in the face for the first time. Between my fiancé, Jordan, and myself, our careers, hobbies, and talents seemed to give us the expertise needed to try to make a difference.

We recognized that there needed to be a way for someone to maintain their focus on recovery and not their size, even when finding new clothes. We decided that partnering directly with treatment facilities would give us the information we needed about each candidate Garment works with in a private and healthy way. From there, we needed to give each individual a unique shopping experience. Garment created an online tool that allows us to make a new, personalized shopping page for each candidate containing only items in our inventory that we believe matches both their needs and lifestyle. With the help of hard-working and talented people, we believe Garment will change the recovery process and a lot of lives along the way.

Can you tell us a bit more about the power sizing in clothing can have over women and what they can do to overcome it?

Each time I went through treatment, I would learn new skills or bits of information that would improve some of my behaviors and way of thinking. I would usually leave with a feeling of confidence and that I had worked hard to make important changes in my lifestyle. Yet I would find myself in the same place: back at home, day one of no longer having the security of an inpatient treatment team, trying to get ready for class. I was alone in my room staring at a closet full of clothes that no longer fit my body or recovered lifestyle. It was a terrible feeling.

For a long time I used clothes to fuel my eating disorder. It isn’t uncommon to use clothing sizes as benchmarks. I kept and used my old clothes as a means of body checking, or seeing if weight had been gained or not. After several cycles through the treatment loop, I had been convinced to throw away my scale. My eating disorder didn’t need a scale anymore because I had my ‘sick clothes’. I remember one dress in particular that would reveal my current weight based on how it fit. I didn’t have the financial stability or even the courage to box everything up and start over.

Clothing and fashion are personal and powerful ways to express yourself. It is exciting and the easiest way to express your individuality. I was missing the thing I used to love about getting dressed each day. I wanted to be able to pick my outfit based on my mood or whatever side of my personality was stronger that morning, but I was stuck with a wardrobe that had so many negative associations attached to it that I couldn’t feel confident about anything that I had to choose from.

What’s next for The Garment Project?

We are focused on bettering our service and expanding our reach. This year, we are going to be working hard to spread our message and let people know that we’re a resource for people who have done amazing work for themselves and are learning how to lead a healthier life. Of course, Garment is always learning and growing too. It’s a priority for us to be able to expand our service to men and hopefully we’ll make significant progress on that this year as well.

What makes you #AerieREAL?

It took a few years of practice and slips, but I have a completely new relationship with food, my body, and myself. My eating disordered thoughts once consumed my life, paralyzing me from living a life I was proud of. I am three years into recovery and I still feel pride and excitement when I catch myself in control. I eat when I’m hungry and until I am full, and I always order exactly what I want. When I look at a photo of myself, I no longer examine every dimple or imperfection. I am able to see the happiness on my face because that’s what is most important to me now. I learned how to be more patient with people I care about, and forgive others when they might not have met my expectations. The food finally came second to the relationships, which was one of the most important steps in accepting my recovery.

Living this recovered life had not only led me to accept my body and soul, but truly love and embrace what I have to offer. I’m proud of my recovery and the messy, motivating experiences I went through. It is important to us that we be champions of recovery and show those that are struggling how beautiful recovered life can be.

 

Want to learn more about The Garment Project? Check out their website here.

 

 

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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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Real Talk with Ava Frati of Pō Swim

We’re so excited to support Pō Swim, a collection inspired by Miami and started by Ava Frati at just 15! We talked to Ava about her entry into the design world, her newest Pō Swim collection and what #AerieREAL means to her. Read on to find out how growing up in Miami has influenced this 15 year old to change the swim game, and meet Ava on Saturday, 12.9 at our NEW Lincoln Road store!

Real Talk with Ava Frati of Pō SwimReal Talk with Ava Frati of Pō Swim

You started Pō Swim at the age of 15. What advice do you have for other young girls trying to start their own businesses?

I launched Pō Swim on my website earlier this year when I turned 15. I worked hard to try and design what young girls, like me, wanted in a swimsuit. The advice I have for other young girls trying to start their own businesses is believe in your ideas and set your goals high. Share your ideas for feedback with those you trust. Take advice and don’t be scared. You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.

The one piece swimsuit has really made a comeback! What is your fave new swim trend?

My new favorite swim trend would have to be the plunge top. It’s such a flattering and empowering shape– I can’t wait to introduce the new ones I designed.

What’s your favorite piece from your collection?

My favorite piece from my collection would have to be the Mar top with the Emma bottoms. Even though I do truly love all my suits, this set is so versatile. The mesh panels give off an active, sexy look, and the stitching of the suit is perfect for physical activity, or even hanging out on the beach. It’s the one suit that every girl should have!Real Talk with Ava Frati of Pō Swim

How has growing up in Miami influenced your designs?

Growing up in Miami has influenced my designs by seeing lots of bikinis and the beautiful girls who wear them in all shapes and sizes. We are lucky enough to swim, boat and sunbathe all year round. Miami girls are always looking for that “new” bikini. We are active so it must move with us. Miami has influenced the ease of my designs, the comfort of the ultra-soft fabrics and the colors I choose. From the Miami sunsets, to the city lights of South Beach, all the colors and shapes of Miami have built my collection.

Pō Swim is continuing to grow! What can we expect to see in the future from your brand?

When I was younger, I knew I wanted to design. Pō Swim has just started as a bathing suit company but I want to expand and grow. I want the Pō Swim girl to wear my cover ups, carry my beach bags and slip on my shoes! In the future I plan to do espadrilles, beach bags and hats, ready to wear, and activewear. I want to grow with Pō Swim girls and hope they want to grow with me too!

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I am #AerieReal because I took chances and believed in a dream. All young girls dream of a way to express themselves but sometimes we get scared we may not achieve our goals. I chose to express myself through design. I hope other girls love my story and feel inspired to believe in themselves and dream big too. I am grateful to Aerie for giving me this awesome opportunity!

Where there is confidence there is beauty!

Ava Frati #AvaReal

 

Real Talk with Ava Frati of Pō Swim    Real Talk with Ava Frati of Pō Swim

Want to see more of Ava’s suits? Shop her collection in our Lincoln Road store and at Aerie.com!

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Real Talk With Jordan Jones of Packed Party

We talked to Jordan Jones, founder of the MOST fun Packed Party gifts brand. Find out how she started her business in her apartment and read about her must-haves for your holiday parties this season. Check out our fave Packed Party items at our Spring Street Pop-Up and at Aerie.com now!

 

How did you come up with the idea for Packed Party?

The idea for Packed Party came to me in a dream in 2013. I had moved to San Francisco not knowing anyone, was sort of feeling sorry for myself one evening in my apartment and called my mom who told me I was having a Pity Party for myself and to go to bed. Thank goodness I listened to her because I went to bed and woke up from a dream about sending a physical Pity Party to myself. I scoured the internet for anything like it and there was nothing that existed so I wrote a business plan for Packed Party right there and sent it to my dad the very next day.

 

What advice do you have for girls who want to start their own companies?

If it’s an idea you’re truly passionate about, dive in head-first fearlessly. No one can stop a woman with passion. I loved Packed Party from the night it came to me in my dream, I knew no one could do it better than me at 23 and today at 27 I still believe that. I have a passion for making people’s days and giving great gifts so I’m truly doing what I love. There will always be nay sayers or people who will try and get in the way, but when you know in your heart of hearts you’re the person to do the job and you love it, there’s no stopping you.

 

We love the Packed Party Pom Pom Magnets! What do you love most about the pom trend?

Thank you! Me too!! I am a pom pom fanatic. I have been since I was little weirdly so it makes a lot of sense so many of our fall + holiday items have poms on them! I think details are incredibly important so adding a pom to anything makes it a little bit better and pops it!

Real Talk With Jordan Jones of Packed Party

Packed Party is our go-to for unique gifts! What are your must-haves for the ultimate holiday party?

I love a good holiday party! I love creating a great tablescape story and always look to my friend Darcy Miller for inspiration in this department. As far as the actual place setting I love putting a staple in place people can keep with them like a Disco Drink or some sort of fun gift with someone’s name attached to it. Can never go wrong with a disco ball on the table, right?

 

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I pride myself on keeping it very real with people. Everyone who knows me knows where they stand with me, I have a lot of trouble hiding my emotions, ha. My mom raised me to be really confident in who I am and never sort of “pretend” to be anyone else so I don’t wear much make-up and that’s sort of set the tone in our office – we’re all about keeping it easy, natural, and functional. No one here is trying to be anyone they’re not which I love. Being a Party Girl means being confident in the skin you’re in and owning whatever it is you’re dealing with like a Pity Party, celebrating yourself for that big raise at work with a Yay, You, you-name-it.

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