Fashion Business Owner Musings: Side Gigs Do Not Make You Less of a Designer


I get this question posed to me all the time: “I think I need to get some side work. Do you think that’s a bad idea?”

My answer: “No! It’s NOT a bad idea at all!”

I spent 10 years working a side gig before I found what I truly loved doing and built it into a big enough business to comfortably support myself. 10 years! And to be honest, for some of those of those 10 years, the “side work” was more of my main gig, with StartUp FASHION as the side gig.

But that didn’t matter. Because in my head and my heart, StartUp FASHION was always my work, my job, my main gig. And anything else I did, even if I did it for more hours a week than I did StartUp FASHION, was always my side hustle for making my main gig a thriving success.

I knew I was working on something cool and so having a side gig was usually OK with me. But I will admit, at times it made me feel “less than”. Now I see that it never should have. I look back at that time and realize that the focus, drive, determination, productivity, and decision making skills I gathered while balancing two jobs are what help me to thrive in my business today.

I know some of you are battling this feeling of going backwards or lack of legitimacy in contemplating getting another job. I do get it. I just don’t agree with it.

I’m writing this because I want to make sure that you never feel this way. I want you to hear from someone who’s been there, that this is totally normal and completely OK. In fact, it’s smart. If you know that the money is going, going, almost gone, and you also know that you want to continue to work on your business, then the only logical thing to do is find ways to make the money you need to live, while you work really hard to build up the business.

What to keep in mind….

  • Try not to think of your business as the side gig, think if it as your main focus, your work, your passion. When someone asks you what you do, talk about that. And think of your day job as your “current way of making money”.
  • Remember that having this job is what makes it possible for you to build your dream company and your ideal life. If that’s not fuel to keep going, I don’t know what is.
  • Often, when your energy is not spent focusing on the lack of money you  have, it becomes refocused on your creativity and your goals, and the things you want for your business start to fall in place.
  • The removal of financial stress from your life can and will have the best possible impact on your work and your business. Self care is a huge part of business success and being overly stressed is not in line with good self care.

Do you see what I mean? There are so many positives to doing what you need to do to make your business work. So ignore the people who dismiss you as not a “real business owner”, including that voice in your own head, and focus on what you’ll be able to do now that the money issue is solved.

Breath a sigh of relief, make a plan to stay productive but healthy, and watch as your business starts to thrive.

Lots of love and encouragement,

Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!