I love hearing about how other people spend their time and get stuff done!
That's why I've started a new series, Side Hustle Story, where we can be a little nosey and peek behind the scenes of our favorite Side Hustlers and entrepreneurs!
In this Side Hustle Story, we're getting to peek behind the scenes of Jenny Lake's life as she balances her work with A Fine Flourish, her full-time job, motherhood, and more!
Tell us about your business, what you do, and how you got started.
I'm the owner of A Fine Flourish. A Calligraphy and Design studio based in Houston, Texas. I work primarily on weddings and events, teach calligraphy workshops, and offer digitized calligraphy work containing invitation and branding elements.
The full story of how I got started can be read here from my girl boss feature on Snapshots and My Thoughts - but long story short - I really had no idea what I wanted to do. A few odd jobs continuously led me to the next step which, in turn, had me creating invitations in an Etsy shop. One client wanted me to address her envelopes so I did a faux calligraphy. And from there, I decided to learn calligraphy for real. I studied with a calligrapher here in Houston for a few months, immediately knew I had found my calling, and the rest is history! :)
Tell us about your full-time job. Is it related to your side hustle?
I work in tax operations for a CPA firm full time, so no, it has absolutely nothing to do with my business :) Tax season is crazy. but I really love the people I work with.
What does your typical day look like for you?
I wake up (force myself out of bed), because I've probably been working well into the early morning the night before. Get my daughter up (I'm a single momma and she's not a morning person either!), make some coffee, breakfast for Bailey, get us both dressed, and out the door as seamlessly as possible. Depending on the day, I might have to talk her off the ledge and pry her away from wearing her Elsa dress to school. After getting her to school, I'm off to work for the day. My lunch break is my time to work on my business a little… answer emails/return client phone calls/ or even meet up with a client. After work, I pick up Bailey from school, unless its her dad's turn, and we either go to the gym, go for a walk, or play before dinner, bath and bed while trying to avoid the “witching hour". After she's in bed I can sit down, pour a glass of wine, and clock in to my other job.
How do you find time (and energy!) to work on your business?
I am constantly saying, "There aren't enough hours in the day." It is hard. Very hard. Success is definitely not easy. Prioritizing is very important and making sacrifices. There are many times when I have to miss out on social events, or even just lounging by the pool, because I have a deadline to meet. I have had to admit that Bailey comes first and then my business comes second right now, until I can get to a stable place where I run my business full time. Energy comes in form of coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
How long did it take your side hustle to be profitable?
Luckily since Calligraphy is in large part service based, the back end costs are not as high as some other businesses. I did have to learn to put a higher price on my time, starting out it is easy to kill yourself for a few bucks and never turn a client down. It was probably a year into business that I raised my prices, learned to value my time and services better, and really starting to see profit. Once I started offering more classes locally, online, and one-on-one mentor sessions - this was a great way to supplement income.
What have been some of your greatest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Well i think the greatest challenge is side hustling and seeing the bigger picture! My full time job can just exhaust me, its hard to stay motivated, and on top of everything that being a business owner entails. Getting overwhelmed is a frequent occurrence. I try to make small to do lists that don’t overwhelm me, tackle them one by one, and ask for a lot of grace.
What is your favorite part of your business? Least favorite?
My favorite part of my business is when my work makes people feel. My most memorable compliment was that someone said they could feel a quote that I had written. Art is emotion and when words can jump off a page and make someone feel something, I’ve done my job. Also, having men comment on envelopes. They never notice a thing, so when the father of the bride, or various men take note that makes me feel wonderful! My least favorite part of my business is the actual business side of things. Having someone run that side of the business so I could 100% focus on creating would be a dream.
Have you hired any one to help you in your business (i.e., Business Coach, Virtual Assistant, etc.)?
I had my wonderful sister as my assistant for a little while assisting me with emails and various other things but am looking for a local intern now. Someone that could help me part time with workshops, getting supplies and filling orders.
How do you stay organized? Any tools or resources you couldn't live without?
I live by my Mac calendar, flagging emails, and a notebook for a written to do list. I have enjoyed using Asana for project management, and brainstorming.
Any advice for other Side Hustlers trying to build a profitable business?
Be authentic, and genuine. Don’t give up and follow your passion. I believe passion is the foundation for a successful business. Especially as a creative, your brand and what you do needs to come from your soul. In a world full of talented artists, something has to set you apart and customers will be able to see your passion and drive. Also, do things for trade! Partner up and collaborate with other creatives and offer your services in return for a shoutout or photos, or an IOU at a later date. Collaboration is huge in building relationships and getting your name out there.
Where can we find you online (i.e., website, social media profiles, etc.)?