Teaching myself to code, run a not-for-profit, and manage a small team of women has been the biggest learning curve. Everything I’ve done has been self-taught, making it all work with no funding and no clue. Essentially, I’ve been working my 9 to 5, and a 5 to 9, day in day out.
Side-hustles, generation slashie, multi-hyphen method, the 5-9 career – whatever you want to call it, the takeaway is the same: the way Millennials and Gen-Zs work is changing, and we’re throwing out the rule book. We don’t rely on having only one area of expertise; I know I can be and do many things, because we are all multi-faceted beings.
Women, especially, are making their own path and paving the way for themselves – rather than waiting for institutionalised sexism in the workplace to change (we don’t have 60 years to sit around and wait) – we’re taking the narrative into our own hands.
I’ve always balanced multiple passions, from University days where I studied history as well as doing 6 internships in publishing and fashion, to starting FGRLS CLUB over two years ago whilst working as a Fashion Editor. FGRLS CLUB was born when I couldn’t see the kind of content I related to in the mainstream. I wanted a platform that was as multi-faceted as the women who engaged with it – so I created it myself. Since then, I’ve grown a following of 30k on Instagram with a very dedicated audience and readership – selling out multiple events on topics like sex-positivity and period poverty, and interviewing some of the UK’s most inspirational activists.
But, how does this work in reality? What is it really like to have multiple income streams, a full-time job, and a side-hustle?
HOW TO START
Something I tell people *constantly* when they ask how to start your own business is that ‘starting is the hardest part’. Don’t wait until you’re ready, because you never will be. I booked two days off my full-time job in fashion two years ago, and sat at my kitchen table watching YouTube tutorials on how to build a website.
Two days later, I had written enough content to launch the website, had a logo designed, and started to get some attention on the social platforms. Trust in yourself – whatever idea you have, you’re probably more of an expert than you think – because passion really is the only key ingredient.
Becky, from Anti Diet Riot Club, had a similar experience, telling me: “It came out of emotional necessity because I needed to do something that really aligned with my values…where my usual work in events and marketing just wasn’t doing that. In this way, it helped that my ‘side-hustle’ (although I kind of hate the word hustle) was also my passion project because doing something I really believed in, to my core, made it easier to spend all the hours on it at the beginning.”
HOW TO BALANCE IT
Starting your own project (usually) won’t immediately pay the bills – I knew I wanted FGRLS CLUB to be a not-for-profit so that it didn’t end up being tied to anyone else’s decisions (like investors) or be limited by a brand identity. I wanted it to evolve with me, be as sweary, feminist and political as I am, and act as a space for me and other women to be their completely unfiltered, messy selves. That being said, I have always had to still work full-time to make my living. I’m lucky; I have my dream day job, but unlucky in the sense that I therefore put my *full* self into both my job and side-hustle. And, it’s not easy, I won’t sugarcoat the fact that I work constantly, and don’t think I’ve had a full day off in over two years.
In order to fit in my own project with a career, it means fitting in work where you can: on the bus I do FGRLS CLUB emails, in the bath I’ll edit content, I’ll organise events in the evenings and can often be found running across London to speak on panels. The most important thing is to know your boundaries, and have a self-care routine that makes sure you’re looking after yourself.
Becky knows this all too well, “For me, there’s always going be waves of enthusiasm and drive that come and go. It can feel really lonely and discouraged when the enthusiasm drops, which is why having SOME sort of support network – a few business mentors, someone you work with on a few projects, or a networking group of entrepreneurs maybe – is so vital. Having people to bounce ideas off is so crucial even before you build a proper team.”
- TOP TIP:
- Community is key – work with people you trust and build a culture that’s kind.
WHAT TO REMEMBER
A journey I’ve been on is learning that success shouldn’t validate you, it can be a nice reward, but at the core to sustaining something is doing it for the right reasons. I wouldn’t have been able to keep going if I was only working for recognition – FGRLS CLUB, for me, is a way I can fight against the patriarchy and challenge structural sexism. It’s also imperative to learn your limits, I’ve burnt out before, and it pushed me to realise I couldn’t do it all – since then, I’ve tried to stop being *everything* for everyone, and delegating responsibilities to the women I work with.
Kitty, a model, speaker, and presenter agrees: “Juggling your job with your career is wonderful, rewarding, but also exhausting. Whilst it’s great to say yes to opportunities and put yourself out there, it’s key you put your wellbeing first so you don’t burn out. Schedule in time off, engage in self-care, and make time for yourself and your friends. “
- TOP TIP:
- Engage in self-care.
Go forth, and slay your 5-9 (within limits).