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 Nicolette Flaherty, Graphic Designer

Get REAL with Nicolette Flaherty, Aerie’s Graphic Designer! Read on to learn more about how she helps to create Aerie’s marketing for each season, her must-have gift for Holiday and what #AerieREAL means to her.

Real Talk with Nicolette Flaherty, Graphic Designer - Aerie What’s a typical morning for you like?

While the first thought that runs through my mind when I hear my alarm is usually “MORE SLEEP!,” “MUST EAT” is a close second and always wins. I like to start my day with a hearty breakfast and loud music. My morning routine of selecting my outfit (which takes several attempts) and styling my messy hair is usually accompanied by a solo dance party, plenty of water and a number of humorous text messages from my friends.

What’s your favorite design that you’ve worked on for Holiday?

This holiday has been one of my favorite seasons to work on. The photography and product are gorgeous and easily helped to provide me inspiration during my designing, so its hard to narrow it down to just one project. I had a lot of fun designing our holiday gift guide mailer that will be mailed to customers across the country (look for it!) and I can’t wait to start shopping for everything featured.

What Aerie item do you have on your Holiday wish list?

I definitely have my eye on the lace bralettes – I love showing off the straps & details under a low back shirt or a sweater. I feel as though that little pop can complete my outfit and I always get compliments. The new holiday colors are perfect for the season, too.

Real Talk with Nicolette Flaherty, Graphic Designer - AerieDo you have any favorite Holiday recipes? Do share!

I love cooking around the holidays as much as I love giving gifts, so I like to combine the two. My favorite little gift to give to friends or family or to take with me to a party as a “thank you” are Sweet & Spicy Rosemary Nuts. And I’m always sure to make a little (a lot) extra for myself.

Sweet & Spicy Rosemary Nuts Recipe
• 4 cups raw, unsalted mixed nuts (I like to use cashews, pecans, almonds and walnuts)
• 4 tablespoons butter, melted
• 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons course salt
• 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roast the nuts as-is for ten minutes.
Mix together in a bowl the melted butter, rosemary, brown sugar, salt and cayenne pepper. Add in the warm nuts and toss to combine.
These can be served warm after making, or saved in an airtight container and set out at room temperature.

Describe your personal style in 3 words:

This is tough. I have a plethora of random interests and with that I tend to transform my style based on what I feel like doing that day. Sometimes I’m super chic, other times I’m boho or sporty. One minute I am dressed like a motorcycle chick and the next I am snazzed up in a dress and heels. And if you catch me when I’m going grocery shopping, my clothes don’t even match. So with that, I guess my three words would be: eccentric,  adventurous, individualistic.

Real Talk with Nicolette Flaherty, Graphic Designer - AerieWhat does #AerieREAL mean to you?

#AerieREAL is about recognizing your own unique beauty and embracing it. But to me, it goes beyond appearance. You are more than just your hair or smile or your curves or lack of curves. Being real is being yourself. It’s about finding what makes your soul happy and allowing that to help mold who you are. Its about setting goals for yourself, learning, losing & winning. Feeling sadness and feeling happiness. Being real isn’t about being perfect. All the imperfections you are given in life, whether they may be scars and marks or struggles and challenges – all in one way or another make you exactly who you are. And when you remain unapologetic for these things because without them, you wouldn’t be you – then that’s what makes you #AerieREAL.

Thank you Nikki for sitting down with us!

Tune in to our Snapchat today (handle: aerie) as Nikki gives us a behind-the-scenes look into her day at Aerie!

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