The importance of passion: how side hustles can be part of your working life

black business woman sitting at her desk

Article provided by Jakki Jones, senior director of talent and influencer, PMK-BNC

I’ve always enjoyed being busy.

I don’t sit still. I have a million ideas rattling round my head at any one time and so, I’ve always known one job would never be enough for me. If there’s a pie around, I want my finger in it.

I think it’s this mindset that has led to me running multiple side hustles alongside my ‘day job’. As well as leading the talent division at PMK-BNC, a career I absolutely love, I design cards and shoes, write a regular magazine column and take part in events and panels. And I’m also a mum to a beautiful two-year old girl. It’s safe to say I never have a dull day, or a quiet moment.

Looking back at how my passion projects have evolved, there’s no clear pattern other than as soon as I got an idea in my mind, I just went for it. I didn’t allow for time to start doubting and second guessing myself. The lightbulb moment for my Jakki Doodles cards and gifts range came from sitting in a meeting, doodling on a bit of paper. The doodling concept seemed a like a nice hook, so I mocked up a few designs and took them to a stall. They liked them and ended up buying them, and a couple of years later they were picked up by Selfridges. I can still hardly believe it.

It was the unusual scenario of having some free time that inspired my magazine column. I went on maternity leave and it was such a strange feeling not to have deadlines to meet, clients to keep tabs on, conference calls to dial into. I started speculating about how I’d cope with the transition from a high-pressure working environment to motherhood; surely so many other mums-to-be must feel the same? So, I emailed Smallish pitching an idea for a column based on just this. I filed my first copy on the Thursday and gave birth on the Friday. Of course, once my daughter arrived that sacred free time was soon a thing of the past, but two years later, the column is still running.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without a forward-thinking and compassionate employer. If I didn’t have a boss, or a company, who was understanding and flexible I’m not sure I would have returned from maternity leave. I know so many women struggle with this, and it’s such a shame for our workforce. Because PMK-BNC has made me happy I want to be amazing back – their attitude inspires loyalty and I know my work for them has never been affected. I’ve made my side hustles work for my day job, bringing in business through some of the new contacts I’ve made. I’ve also found that motherhood has allowed me to give a more personal touch when dealing with both baby brands and other parents.

It’s not always easy keeping so many balls in the air, and sometimes I feel as though I’m living in chaos. My solution is usually to have a laser focus on completing one thing at a time, even if it’s right up until the last minute – I seem to work better under pressure. I have high but realistic expectations and try not to give myself a hard time if something doesn’t work out the way I hoped it would. It might be a cliché, but it’s true that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. My biggest regret would be never trying in the first place.

Here are my three top tips when it comes to taking on a passion project:

  1. Start somewhere familiar. I work in a creative industry, surrounded by other creative people. My side hustles all reflect this. I’ve always tried to merge everything I do together so that each new project adds another layer of expertise to my existing work, capitalising on what I’ve done and learned so far.
  2. Tap up your contacts. I’m fortunate that a career in talent management has given me such a fantastic network; I appreciate not everyone has this benefit. But whether you’re after a proof reader, creative input, someone to nag you or just a shoulder to cry on if something goes wrong, sharing your journey with others will make it a happier and more productive one.
  3. Don’t fear failure. Even the most successful people have had catastrophic setbacks. You just don’t always hear about them. Confidence comes with experience and the more life throws my way, the better equipped I feel to take on new challenges and succeed. In my opinion, the biggest failure is not putting yourself out there and giving it a go.

About the author

Jakki Jones has worked in the talent business for 16 years and helped set up global entertainment agency PMK-BNC in London, where she now heads up the talent and influencer division. Jakki works with an impressive portfolio of celebrities and influencers from multiple sectors, and helps brands such as Diageo, Luxottica, American Express, MTV, Sky Atlantic, Net-A -Porter, ITV and Bafta amplify their campaigns through talent.

Outside of PMK-BNC, Jakki runs a successful cards and gifts business, Jakki Doodles, stocked in major UK retailers. She has a regular column in trendy mum mag Smallish, has just designed her first shoe with Inch Blue and she regularly takes part in events and panels alongside fellow entrepreneurs, working with big brands such as Bugaboo, Top Drawer, Mamas & Papas, Scamp & Dude and Bobbi Brown to name a few.

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