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Pursue your passions with a side hustle

By weekdays, I work as a Digital Media Coordinator at a non-profit, and in all my other spare time I work on my passion project. What does that mean? A side hustle is a passion you pursue outside of your 9-5 day job- a way to make some extra money, and a chance to explore something new or something you’re passionate about that your day job doesn’t fulfill. This could coding, blogging about local restaurants, or beer making.

So what is my passion project? Hand embroidery!

While this might sound like an outdated craft, I’ve been inspired to combine this vintage hand craft with modern colors, designs, and textures to bring embroidery into the modern times.

The past 4 years have been a learning curve in not only side hustling, but also in exploring my passion and learning how to pursue it. Here’s what I've learned so far about pursuing my passion:

1. Be passionate I sit behind a computer all day, so when I come home, I want to create something with my hands. When I originally started my side hustle, I made hand lettered cards. I enjoyed sketching the designs, but wasn't overly keen on spending more time behind a computer screen. Because of this I wasn't extremely passionate about my side hustle.

After some time and reflection on the crafting my mom did with me as a child, I switched to hand embroidery. I love working with my hands, and am fortunate enough to have a mom who taught me all kinds of sewing and crafting when I was younger-- not that I appreciated it at the time. This way, I can still create my own designs without having to sit in front of a computer. I'm so glad I changed what I was creating. I love stitching beautiful pieces of art with a needle and thread. It's almost like coloring.

2. Enjoy life Having a side hustle is great if you want to make some extra money or explore something new, but be sure you have a life outside of work and your side hustle (aka more work). If you’re extremely passionate about your side hustle and want to possibly turn it into something more, like a business, be sure to find the right balance. A side hustle can almost be like a second job. Because of this, it's important to add life between your passion projects and your day job.

I used to work nights for a big telecommunications company, and would work on my side hustle during the day. Back to back to back. If it wasn't crazy hours at work, it was crazy hours on my side hustle. After 7 months of non-stop work, I got burnt out. Yes, I was productive, but I had no life outside of my job and my side hustle. Because of this I was feeling strained mentally, emotionally, and creatively, so I had to slow things down, and take a step back. After some thought and rest, I'm now able to find a better balance of time for work, my passion project, and life.

3. Goals How important is your side hustle? What do you want to get out of it? A few months into my side hustle, I had to sit down and ask myself some tough questions— no, this didn't look like the Kermit "me to me" meme. Instead, I asked myself what does this passion project mean to me? What do I want yo get out of it? And how do I make that happen?

First and foremost, my side hustle is a way to relax and get away from the computer. I literally surf the web, scour social media, and stare at a computer screen all day long. Without my computer and the internet, I would be nothing. Because I work in the digital space, I knew I wanted to create a tangible piece of art. Hand embroidery is a way for me to explore color, design, texture, and new ideas as they pop into my head-- a creative outlet to help me relax and decompress from the day.

Originally I just wanted to create embroidery art for myself. But the more I created, the more I realized I had no space for all my creations and that people were interested in buying my artwork. With this realization, I reevaluated my goals yet again and decided to turn my passion project into a real side business, instead of a craft I am passionate about. As time has passed and I've grown my business, I've set new goals, weekly, monthly, and yearly to continue to expand. As I've continued to expand and grow my business, however, it's always important to keep in mind why I am passionate about my craft in the fist place and how to balance it with my life and day job.

4. Worthwhile Is my passion project worth my while? This could be monetarily, mentally, emotionally, or physically? While I don’t make enough money to support myself off of my artwork (maybe one day...) I make enough to cover supplies and save some money. Right now, that’s okay. This may change as I reevaluate my goals, but right now money isn’t my main priority with my side hustle. I’m more concerned with my mental and emotional health. Crafting and creating with my hands, is like coloring or petting a puppy— I instantly feel happier.

5. Focus Turning a passion project into a business can be a hard balance. I've grown to love it. When things seem stressful, I try to remember why I started embroidery in the first place and that my side hustle is meant to relieve stress, not cause more.

The more passionate and involved I’ve become with my side hustle, the more I remind myself I do this for fun, and if it’s not fun, then I shouldn’t do it-- with that being said, there will always be some things that I more fun than others as part of any project. I love choosing fabric and thread and stitching a project, but I usually wait til I have a huge stack of finished embroideries before I finish the backs, because that part it less fun to me.


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