It takes a certain type of heart to hustle. The same heart that many have when it comes to securing an extra bag. According to Bankrate, 45 percent of working Americans have a side hustle. When you find yourself balancing a full-time job and a gig or business, knowing how to manage it all is a task in itself. However, finding a flow to manage it all isn’t impossible. Read how these founders are balancing how to build, grow and scale a business while holding down a 9-to-5.
Victoria Phifer, Atlanta
Phifer serves as a Public Health Analyst for the federal government. As you can imagine, her role has been demanding during the pandemic. However, she has still found time to be the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Harambee Crafts, a collection of modern handcrafted goods for the culturally conscious. Launched in 2017, Harambee Crafts’ include a range of products from African-inspired printed headwraps, face masks, pocket squares to hand fans and tote bags. “Something I’m really proud of as an entrepreneur is prioritizing partnerships with other women-owned and minority-owned businesses, especially our sourced materials and professional services,” she said. Phifer donates a portion of sales to global makers and artisans through Global Mamas.
After Phifer completed graduate school, she realized she needed a creative outlet. “Adulting became a routine of work and wondering where the weekend went. Sewing helped me tap into my creative roots, practice self-care, and create something special from beautiful materials,” she shared. She found her way back to her childhood joy of crafting and found a way to honor our Diaspora simultaneously.
When she started her company, she realized her biggest challenge would be to set realistic business goals. “As a new entrepreneur, I dedicated much more time to research, prioritizing, and implementing the smallest tasks,” she explained. There was a lot to learn about building an e-commerce business, so Phifer set out to be a student of the game and manage her time better. She recommends new founders to read E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber and Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh and listen to business podcasts like Side Hustle Pro and Shopify Masters.
Phifer suggests entrepreneurs focus on their “why” to stay motivated in managing a side hustle and full-time job. “At moments when you feel drained, draw on the foundation of your business for motivation. If it is not deeply connected to your core values, it can be easy to give up when you face challenges,” she shared. One way to help with this is by finding community, especially if you are a solopreneur. “Be intentional about building a network. It is so helpful to be part of a community of entrepreneurs who are aligned in purpose and passion,” she said.
Ashley Brabham, Los Angeles
During the day, Brabham is a marketing and advertising supervisor overseeing the campaign strategy for Fortune 500 companies. In the evening and weekends, she is creating her empire with MAKTUB Studio Candles, a collection of luxury hand-poured scented candles inspired by music. She became a candle maker in 2019 when she was unemployed and looking for a full-time job. “I found so much solace in listening to my favorite music and burning aromatic candles during this time. It became one of the few things that actually brought me peaceful vibes,” she shared.
Brabham simultaneously launched MAKTUB Studio, started a new job, and quickly learned how to manage both while being a single mother. Her biggest challenge was maximizing the 24 hours of her day without burning out. She started adhering to a daily schedule and blocking off an hour in the day to focus on my side hustle. “Though it’s time-consuming to do this daily, having this schedule really helps me get the most out of my day,” she shared. Brabham prioritizes herself and takes every Sunday off from any work commitments. “It’s challenging because when you’re passionate about something, you want to put your all into it, but if you want to keep the excitement and passion in your side hustle, you have to make sure you’re giving yourself time to rest,” she said.
Lanae Jackson, Nashville
To balance motherhood, career, interests, and overall well-being, Jackson created Bloom By Simply Lanae, a plant-based, self-care product line, through the study of herbalism. Jackson launched her business during the start of the pandemic in March 2020 while working as a Brand and Social Media Strategist for a global Fortune 500 company. Her company offers handcrafted rose water, soaks, oils, and candles in a time when wellness became a priority.
Getting feedback from customers on how much her products have helped, Jackson believes the long hours she put in to build her business are worth it. She keeps going with the small team that helps her handle day-to-day operations.” This allows me to focus on the creation side of the business, which is my passion. It also takes off some of the pressure from having long days at my full-time job,” she shared. Not only does Jackson create her product, but she also designs the packaging by hand painting the flowers on the bottles. That’s why it’s important to Jackson to have time off to create and work from a space of joy. Like Phifer, Jackson uses her “why” as her north star. “It’s the motivation to keep going when you don’t see the fruits of your labor just yet. But have faith and trust in divine timing,” she shared.
Ronnie Dickerson Stewart, Atlanta
Dickerson Stewart is the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Marketplace + Community Lead for Zoom. From her years of experience navigating her career from an intern to a senior executive leader, she decided to become a certified Career Management & Executive Leadership Development Coach to help the next generation of future leaders. “Over time, I knew I wanted to find a way to serve more and to genuinely connect with people beyond those who were my clients, or those who engaged me for group coaching or speaking engagements, she shared.
For years she has had her coaching services while managing her full-time diversity and inclusion roles, but most recently decided to expand her career empire to content and merchandise. She created The Career Clinic Podcast, a show dedicated to supporting the development of people who want to navigate their careers effectively. She is also the owner of an Etsy shop, The Facts and Feels Collective. “I launched the podcast in late 2019 while on maternity leave with my second-born son and have been growing it from there,” she shared. Dickerson Stewart launched her shop with her husband to make it a family venture. “My oldest is curious about business, choosing designs and making product decisions, so he has an active hand in the shop as we continue to build and grow!” she exclaimed.
Her challenge with managing multiple side hustles has been finding a unique rhythm and workflow. “I overcame that challenge over time by giving myself the grace to build at my own pace. I learned very quickly, namely by being a working parent, to embrace my own season,” Dickerson Stewart said. Beyond showing up for your family and friends, she loves the meaningful work that she does in her full-time role, so being present in both spaces is essential to Dickerson Stewart. “And with that, my pace, rhythm and workflows are aligned, or as needed re-aligned, accordingly!”
Kirbee Miller, Nashville, 36
Miller is a sought-after culinary lifestyle expert who has built an immersive culinary experience company and a gourmet popcorn line. She has been managing KiNiMi Kitchen and her role as a Senior Business Relationship Manager for Health Informatics at Vanderbilt Medical Center since 2017.
“Food is a powerful equalizer that can start beautiful conversation and connection. KiNiMi Kitchen’s mission is to cultivate immersive culinary experiences that promote inclusion and connection,” Miller said. She launched the brand to share my love for food and people through content and experiences like an online cooking show, virtual culinary experiences, television appearances, pop-up shop partnerships with Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn. Miller also has an artisan popcorn line, KiNiMi Pop.
A year after launching her culinary brand, Miller’s world changed when she became a caretaker for her parents after being critically injured in a 2018 New Years’ Eve car accident. “I spent the next 5.5 months sleeping in the hospital, navigating being their bedside advocate, working and running my company in the late hour hours. I ended up moving from my home to care for them,” she said. It has been a difficult chapter of Miller’s life, but she sees a silver lining from the support of friends and family. “Adversity truly introduces you to yourself. Seeing how drastically life can change in seconds has fueled my desire to pursue my passion and encourage others to do the same while living life to the fullest,” she shared.