Meet 3 Melbourne women with side hustles

Meet 3 Melbourne women with side hustles

L-R: Nicole Precel of Co-Ground (picture: When Saturn Returns), Lorenza Hallahan of Lorenza the Label, and Simone Turner of Arbonne (picture: Faisal Haroon).

Having one thriving career is enough to keep most busy and productive, but some women want more.

These three Melbourne women have launched successful businesses on the side while juggling full time jobs, and they’re reaping the rewards of creative fulfilment.

Thankfully, they have shared an insight into how they got started with a side hustle, the challenges they faced along the way and some of the benefits of doing more than one job.

If you’re looking to start a side hustle and need some advice to get started, read on.

Nicole Precel of Co-Ground

Nicole co-founded social enterprise Co-Ground.

Nicole Precel

Day job: Journalist, video producer

Side hustle: Co-founder of social enterprise Co-Ground

What is Co-Ground?

Co-Ground is a global community of change-makers fuelled by social enterprise, events, volunteers and purpose-driven partnerships. We work to alleviate poverty through empowerment, education, health and livelihood programs.

We have 45 volunteers in Melbourne and work with eight villages in remote Vanuatu. We are also expanding into the Philippines.

We have a social enterprise cafe, Co-Ground Coffee in Brunswick, an events company that runs parties for purpose, and are currently crowdfunding for a coffee cart to run smaller corporate and private events. We are also upskilling and training young people in Melbourne.

How did you get involved in Co-Ground?

Co-Ground began organically. In March 2015, a Category 5 cyclone hit Vanuatu (Cyclone Pam). My partner and co-founder Andrew Mellody’s family live on a remote island there called Epi Island. Initially, we were really concerned about them but once we found out they were okay our attention turned to the surrounding community.

We ran a huge event to raise money with the help of co-founder Aleksei Plinte, and after contacting the village decided we would make sure any money we raised went straight to the community. Once we went over to work on the first education project with the community, we decided that it should be an ongoing thing, and so Co-Ground was formed.

From there, we got a pro bono law firm on board, set up our organisational structure and took on volunteers. We’ve come a long way since then. Co-Ground won the 2015 Anti-Poverty Award and earlier this year we were awarded a $30,000 Jetstar Flying Start Grant to expand into the Philippines. We’ve brought on board partners Five Senses Coffee and La Marzocco, and recently collaborated with Peregrine Projects.

Why was it important to you to create a social enterprise?

I believe so strongly in social enterprise and shifting towards a social economy. I think giving people an opportunity to make a difference simply through their consumer decisions can be really powerful, and is definitely one way to spark real change.

How do you juggle your full time job with running a side business?

I do shift work as a journalist, which can be good and bad. Sometimes, it means I can work on Co-Ground during business hours but it also means I don’t get a lot of sleep. The juggle is always tough… but it is also really rewarding. I’ve learned over time that I can’t do everything. I’ve also learnt how important it is to have a strong and supportive team.

What have been your biggest challenges with starting a side business?

It can be pretty overwhelming starting something from scratch. For us, as a social enterprise and not-for-profit, it was a matter of getting a pro bono law firm on board (Russell Kennedy Lawyers), who helped us draft our constitution and going from there. At the beginning, our initial team did everything. You have to learn how to do things you’d never thought you’d do, and realise that sometimes getting it done as best you can is better than it being perfect.

What are some of the benefits of starting a side hustle while maintaining a full time job?

I absolutely love working as a journalist. My passion has always been public interest journalism and making a difference through my work. But, for me, Co-Ground is another way to have an impact. One of the benefits of starting a side hustle while maintaining a full time job is definitely the financial security. Although there may not be endless hours in the day, and starting a new business takes an incredible amount of work, having a stable income definitely takes some of the pressure off. My side hustle is unpaid, so it is definitely a labour of love.

What advice do you have for other women who want to start a business while maintaining a full time job?

Make sure you are really passionate about what you are doing and believe in it.

Lorenza Hallahan of Lorenza the Label.

Lorenza runs fashion business Lorenza the Label.

Lorenza Hallahan

Day job: Brand and design manager

Side hustle: Owner of fashion business Lorenza the Label

What is Lorenza the Label?

Lorenza the Label is a bespoke, handmade fashion label for women. I do everything myself, from patternmaking to sewing to customer service and designing my own website. All my garments are handmade and hand finished, and everything is 100 per cent Australian made.

How did the label start?

I have always loved sewing. When I lived in Perth, everything you’d buy, someone else would be wearing it. So, I’d make a lot of my own outfits. When I moved to Melbourne, I wanted to study fashion and in 2007 I enrolled at Melbourne School of Fashion and studied garment construction and patternmaking, which I did on Tuesday and Thursday nights after work.

Then I went to London for two years and I didn’t sew at all while I was over there and that’s when I realised I really missed it. I started thinking about launching a label when I planned to return to Melbourne.

On my return, I had four months off while job hunting so I dedicated that time to building my own website, getting patterns together and I launched the business in October 2015.

How do you juggle your full time job with running a side business?

I create and schedule all my social media posts for my fashion business during my commute on public transport to and from my day job.

I have learned to recognise when I’m burning the candle at both ends. For instance, I know that I cannot exercise and sew in the same night after a day at work. It just doesn’t work for me.

Know when to stop. Sometimes I’ll get to Sunday afternoon and all I have done is sew all weekend, and then I’m grumpy by Monday morning. It’s important to make time to go for a walk, meet up with a friend or have some “me time”.

What are some of the benefits of starting a side hustle while maintaining a full time job?

It seems that wherever I work, I tend to get the most customers because people see the pieces that I wear and then they place orders. So that’s been a nice benefit.

I find sewing very therapeutic. If I’ve had a stressful day, I’ll cut up some fabric and start sewing. It allows me to zone out – I can be clipping and sewing and overlocking all while thinking about work or other things going on in my life.

Having a full time job also allows me to put money into my fashion label because I can buy fabric and other materials. My full time job essentially allows me to do my side business.

It also gives me the chance to constantly work on perfecting a craft. I can always improve my technique and constantly build on my skill set – that’s what I truly love about doing this.

What have been your biggest challenges with starting a side business?

I don’t ever want to do the “get stuff made overseas” thing. That just doesn’t excite me. I love sewing, the construction and the finished product. So the challenge lies in figuring out how to maintain that.

It would be great to have some more customers but I think I’d get stressed out if I had more than a few orders on the go at the same time, especially while juggling a full time job. Balancing that is a challenge.

What advice do you have for other women who want to start a business while maintaining a full time job?

It’s not all going to happen overnight. I thought I could launch my website and people would start ordering things immediately. And while a lot of people have contacted me to find out about my garments they don’t always follow through with an order. I’ve had to be patient with that side of things.

When awesome things happen in your business, let yourself be really excited by it. When I won a small business grant recently, I allowed myself to feel excited about that for as long as I could. Celebrate your wins!

Simone Turner, consultant at Arbonne

Simone is an independent consultant with Arbonne. Image: Faisal Haroon.

Simone Turner

Day job: Marketing coordinator

Side hustle: Independent consultant with cosmetics company Arbonne

What is Arbonne?

Arbonne is about transforming lives, health and skin, and it was started over 35 years ago by Norwegian entrepreneur Petter Mørck. All the products are plant-based and made up of pure, safe ingredients that have incredible benefits for the skin. What I love most is that Arbonne products are not tested on animals, contain no animal products or by-products, so they’re vegan certified.

How did you get involved in Arbonne?

While Arbonne is the company, I have my own business within that brand as a consultant, where I sell their products to clients that I source myself and also introduce the same business opportunity to others. I don’t have to pay staff and all my marketing material is done for me. All I knew was I had to “learn as I went along”, and that I have!

Why was it important to you to work with Arbonne?

I’d always wanted my own business, but I never knew exactly what that would be. While there were many other companies out there, I knew straight away that Arbonne was the one for me – even if it didn’t come in the package I was expecting.

I loved the fact that products were consumable (people always needs refills), and the health and wellbeing industry is booming, so I knew it was a win-win business opportunity.

I’m also passionate about what Arbonne stands for. I love that the company gives back to charities, while allowing consultants to give back to causes they’re passionate about.

How do you juggle your full time job with running a side business?

I definitely have to be disciplined to run my own business, and that is something I still find challenging.

Working full time means that you have to make your side business work in the nooks and crannies. It’s about using the time I allocate wisely and working out what I can do in those moments.

It is also about consistently working towards your goals, but not constantly.

What have been your biggest challenges with starting a side business?

Believing in myself and knowing that I’m good enough. When I first started the business, I had so many doubts and just couldn’t see how I could move past them. Now I know anything is possible and it’s all a decision, but I still need to remind myself.

Calling people is also challenging. Mainly, I think this is a fear of rejection, and in this case, I just feel the fear and do it anyway.

You can feel like an alien among others. When you’re around other consultants you totally feel at home, but when you’re among colleagues, friends or family who are not doing Arbonne, it can feel quite isolating. I conquer this one with daily affirmations.

What are some of the benefits of starting a side hustle while maintaining a full time job?

Having a monthly income that you can put towards savings, mortgage and bills is a huge benefit. And as you’re growing your business bigger each month, you still have the income from a stable job.

It also allows you to have a backup plan, which gives you the security of an extra income if anything happens. I was unexpectedly made redundant from my full time job earlier this year but could continue working on my business with Arbonne while I looked for a new job.

What advice do you have for other women who want to start a business while maintaining a full time job?

My biggest advice is to stop waiting until you are ready because you never will be. There may be a better time in one’s life, but if you’re waiting for the perfect time such as “when work settles down a bit” or “once my child is at school”, then I say definitely don’t.

There are plenty of women in Arbonne who run their business alongside their full time or part-time job, some with children and some not, and they have made it work.

Do you have a side hustle? How do you juggle it with a full time job? Share your story in the comments section below.

Sharon Green, editor

Sharon Green

Sharon Green is the founding editor of SHE DEFINED.

An experienced journalist and editor, Sharon has worked in mainstream media in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Forever in search of a publication that confronted the real issues faced by modern women, Sharon decided to create her own.