My first question to Kim was how she went about choosing how to host her “side hustle”. Having the right host for you is very important. It needs to be easy for you to change, customize, and get foot traffic. A “side hustle” is your side business. If you are putting more time into it than your main career/job, it is no longer a “side hustle”.
Kim told me she chose Etsy for a few reasons. Etsy has its own search engine optimization (SEO) making your items easier to find. They show up more often in searches in turn bringing more people to your site. There are other sites like Weebly, Wix, etc. that allow for shops to be attached, but those require a different understanding of SEO and search terms. Kim felt Etsy was easier for her because of this. She also picked Etsy for their shipping ease and user friendly amenities that aligned with how she wanted to run her “side hustle”.
After picking a good host for her side business, I asked Kim to give some tips on how to make sure your “side hustle” remains just that , yet how to make sure it makes a profit.
Kim was very quick to say research. Research is important as a costume designer and as a “side hustler”. It is important to research your demographic, your product, your host, etc. Know what kind of cut your host will take from your sales, know what others making similar products to you are charging, etc.
The next tip is to have a community. Having someone to bounce ideas off of or to ask questions when you hit a problem is very helpful. As I talked about in a previous blog (here) it is important to have Facebook groups, chat groups, friends, etc. to talk through things with.
Kim keeps organized to streamline her business. Her specific products can be prepped easily so they are ready to customize and finish when they are ordered by her customers. Finding moments when she has free time Kim preps her supplies just like a prep cook in a restaurant. Having things organized and ready to go keeps the time needed to do things for the “side hustle” to a minimum. Also having a specific area of your living space designated to your business is important to keeping thing organized.
Being a business you would buy from is also important. Kim sets her customer service high as well as her diversity and inclusive advertising. If you want to buy from the company, most likely others will also buy from you. Kim’s business is all about her customers. She customizes her products for each order. Working with the creativity of her customers excited Kim. It also excites her customers. Many other stores make products and sell them as is. Kim prefers to have starting points for her customers to build from. Kim also uses models of different sizes and skin tones. She admits she needs continue to expand her inclusiveness of models but strives to make her products non-binary and friendly to all who wish to purchase them. “I like buying things from places like Unique Vintage and Modcloth who have more inclusive models and products. I want my business to reflect that.”
Overall Kim says find something that makes you happy and you may be doing even if you weren’t paid for it. She started making ears for Disney Bounding (dressing to suggest a Disney character using modern fashion) just for herself and friends. People would come up to her in the parks asking where she got them and if they could buy them. This sparked the idea that she could make money from something she was doing anyway.
It was great to get some insight into a “side hustle” from a fellow costume designer. Kim’s biggest tip is to find a “side hustle” that you love to do and can make a little cash from and treat your customers well. “There will be people making what you are making. Find a way to stand out.”
As a young professional it is important to have some big goals set for yourself. I have two big reach goals I would love to work towards.
The first being- To design costumes for the cast members/parade/new show at a Disney theme park. As readers know I worked for the Walt Disney World Resort after I graduated from undergrad. (Read about it here) I really enjoyed working for the Disney company and bringing magical experiences to those visiting the parks. While there I had the opportunity to go backstage and meet with other cast members working in the creative costuming area. I even got to see some costume renderings for new princess dress designs, parade costumes, etc. I have always loved Disney and the joy it brings to so many people.
The second big goal for me is- To work on a show that transfers from Broadway to London (or is tested in London and then transfers to Broadway). Having lived in London for about 4 months as part of my MFA degree, I vowed I would come back to live there again. It is an exciting city and I would love to work and live in it again.
These are my two big goals I have set for myself. Now I need to work on some smaller ones.