Doing the 'side hustle': Islanders tap into their creative sides

A growing number of Prince Edward Islanders are doing the hustle, the side hustle that is, tapping into creative sidelines for fulfillment and extra cash.

"To me a side hustle is if you have a day job, which is your typical 9 to 5, Monday to Friday employment," explained Julia Kun, who runs shoppe juju on Etsy. 

"But you also have a small business of something you do in the evenings that brings extra income or something that you just want to do as a creative outlet, that's the side hustle."

Passion project

Kun is an environmental scientist by day, but then creates handmade hair scrunchies, sleep masks and lace bralettes as her side hustle.

She got into making them for her own personal use, posted one on social media and started getting calls from P.E.I. stores that wanted to stock them.

"Side hustle makes it sound a bit more fun, it's your passion project rather than sometimes people don't entirely enjoy their day jobs but the side hustle is something they do enjoy," said Kun.

Her friends on P.E.I. are mainly musicians, artists and small business owners, something she was missing in her full time employment.

"I found I was missing that creative aspect in my life, seeking how I could fulfill that," she said.

"So it seemed like a natural progression to find my own nice, creative space and it turned into what I have now."

Seasonal economy

Suzanne Scott has seen the trend of the side hustle growing across Prince Edward Island. She's the Etsy Artisans of P.E.I. team captain and says 75 to 80 per cent of the businesses she works with are side hustles.

Etsy is a website that allows people to sell handmade and vintage goods and supplies.

"It's pretty perfect for the P.E.I. economy, the way we are so seasonal here," said Scott, who runs Village Pottery, which has also seen a huge boost in business with the boom in social media.

"The people I find fascinating are the ones who are engineers or accountants and then on the side, they're coming up with these beautiful things that they're creating by hand," said Scott.

She has seen the number of vendors at the Etsy Spring Market increase from 75 to 90 in just one year.

"Where I really love to see it going with the Etsy artisans is when that side hustle develops into more and they can fully sustain themselves ."

"Maybe they're not so passionate about their full time job and they're able to take that leap and be an artist full time."

Full hustle

Ashley Anne Clark is trying to make that transition now, from side hustle to full time artist. She does drawings and makes handmade jewellery.

She returned to art five years ago after years of teaching full time.

"I just completely lost touch with the artistic side of my life and I realized it's a really important part of my life," she said.

"When I noticed people were interested in actually purchasing my work, that was super exciting."

Clark admits it has been a steep learning curve at times.

"The harder part for me was learning how to deal with money, how to do wholesale orders, how to deal with the business side of things," said Clark.

"The art world is changing a lot, it's a lot of testing things out, figuring out what pathway you want to take."

Finding balance

The financial benefits of having a side hustle are, Kun said, a bonus, but not what drives her.

Business at shoppe juju has now grown to the point where she will need to hire someone to help which is "pretty exciting," she said.

Kun does admit that the opportunity to do shoppe juju full time does have appeal but says, for now, she has a great balance.

"It's something I dream about all the time," said Kun.

"I really enjoy what I do with my day job, it's what I went to school to do and I'm thankful every day that I get to do that and I'm also thankful every day that I have a business is growing."

As for whether the side hustle is a millennial creation?

"Social media has really helped grow small businesses," said Kun.  

"If that makes it a millennial thing, I guess it would be."

The Etsy Spring Market takes place April 29 and 30 at the Delta Convention Centre, with plenty of side hustles on display all weekend.

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