Perks and Pitfalls of Running a Side Business

First off, I’d like to inform you why I’ve been gone so long. It’s because I’ve clearly been slacking! I’m not so great at juggling my time, so I usually go in stints. But I continue to seek out inspiration to grow and I continue to get better…which is where you guys come in. I need you for motivation. I need you for inspiration. I need you for accountability. I also need to motivate, inspire, and to help others grow. So thank you for reading. Thanks for being interested in my journey and I’m so proud of you all for participating in your own personal growth!

Without further ado, let’s jump right in:

Whether you are thinking about starting up a side hustle or you’re already there, you can consider  these pros and cons. If you haven’t started up yet, I’d love to give you an accurate view of what it’ll be like, but the truth is each person’s journey is so unique that I can’t say anything that will tell you for sure whether a side business is right for you. You’ll, of course, have to agonize over that yourself, but my hope is that this post will leave you a little more informed and balanced in your decision-making process. If you’re already doing it, CONGRATS! You’ll probably identify with some of these areas and are already benefiting from the Perks and commiserating with me over the Pitfalls. May this help you sharpen the strengths and minimize the  innate weaknesses of a part-time endeavor.

Perks:

You can jump in at any time. You don’t have to wait to save up $25,000 for the initial start up. Most side businesses are grown out of a hobby or something you already do for people.

You still have your steady income so you know you can pay your bills.

You can fulfill different areas of yourself. Example: creative/analytical sides

You can use your first job to fund the expenses of your side hustle.

You can do the stuff that’s necessary, but not immediately income-producing: like building recognition, meeting clientele, etc. without being flat broke.

You’ll have more time to develop your SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)

You’ll have time to find your niche…what precisely you want to do in that field.

Your passion keeps you going (Like I said-side jobs are usually hobbies first.)

You can build a wide foundation for your business- because you don’t have to worry about making a  whole income right away.

You can see if it’s a viable option for taking it full time… which leads me to my next point.

You can find out what your bread and butter is. This is important, because it may not be the thing you would focus on if you dove into it all at once. Say you quit your job to be a landscape artist and try to market yourself primarily as building zen gardens because it’s your passion. You could bankrupt yourself if that’s not what the market is asking for. If you’d gotten your feet wet first, you might have found that lawn mowing is the service most people are willing to pay for. You could then choose to either do mostly that and then work on your passion of zen gardens whenever you find the right clientele, or you may choose to get out because you’d rather stay at your current job full time than do the bread and butter work. Of course, there would also be the option to only do zen gardens here and there and keep your full time job. If you had already gone broke trying to do that because you quit your job first, your likelihood of going back to it on the side goes down dramatically.

Pitfalls: 

It takes time to build up a business. A lot of time. You have to market yourself, hone your skills, build up a client base, possibly learn how to keep your books or new computer applications. It’s a lot. And you’ll be doing that after your other work hours all while you may not be at your best.

It’s easy to gravitate toward one or the other of your jobs and get out of balance. You may lean toward your “real” job because it brings home the bacon and more time there means more success and potentially more money. You could also spend all your effort on your business because you love it. It’s your baby and you’re trying to grow it so it gets all of your energy and your performance at work may suffer for it.

There are so many starts and stops. Seriously. SO MANY! You’re constantly getting into a different mindset for a different type of work. There may be seasons where you need to concentrate on one job over the other and bouncing back from that can be hard.

It’s hard to get into the flow when you’re bouncing from one thing to another. Just when you hit your stride, it’s time to go to your other job.

Bookkeeping. I could stop there and that would stand as it’s own “con” I’m sure. Most people hate doing it. But it’s necessary. But it’s terrible. But you’ll lose your shirt if you don’t. But, uggghhh!!!(Sorry, that’s my own internal dialogue)  The trouble with bookkeeping for a side business is that almost nobody actually does it. Who has time, right? You work and then you work some more then you have to deal with all the other functions of growing a business and you never get around to seeing if you’re profitable or just how much you’re really investing. This is super duper tricky for a hobby-born business because people love it so much, they just keep going because it’s their dream and have no idea how much money they are pouring into the thing. Be careful about this one. Keep simple records if nothing else and add up your expenses and earnings once a month!

What’s the moral of this story? Well, a side-business may or may not be right for you. I think a lot of it depends on your motivations. Not that some are wrong, but they are different. If you only want to earn extra money, bookkeeping will be your metric. If all you want is to live your dream, then money matters less. You just have to determine a balance between your two worlds and make sure your finances and time are organized enough that you aren’t simply spinning your wheels getting nowhere. You want to get somewhere. Be specific about where that is. And remember, I want you to get there, too!

Pattern Workshop Launch and My New Year’s Resolution

“How long can one save pictures for a blog post without publishing?” you might ask. The answer, my friend, is indefinitely, which leads me to today’s release of a blog intended to be published last summer. Also, to answer the … Continue reading

Pattern Indy Interview

Pattern Blog July Pics

I am very pleased to announce to you guys that I was recently interviewed for the Pattern magazine blog about designing for a local market and you can check that interview out by clicking the link below.

http://www.patternindy.com/2015/07/30/qa-with-designer-sarah-lalonde/

   This interview tells a bit about my design history, inspiration, my personal aesthetic as a fashion designer, and my process and personal story.

Pattern Indy and Me:

   Pattern Magazine is the first fashion mag based out of Indiana…ever, as far as I know! They put out some killer work-I definitely hand it to them for superior editorial high fashion shoots. Not only is Pattern a magazine, but it’s a collaborative effort to bring together and equip people in any facet of the fashion industry in our area. If you read me very often, you know I’m an unapologetic Christian and when I say “Thank the Lord for Pattern” I don’t just mean it figuratively.

    I touch on it in this interview, but Pattern had a lot to do with my decision to get back in the design game. When I moved back to Indiana after getting my degree in fashion design in California, I planned on it being a temporary hiatus. That is, until I had my twin girls and decided that their stability was more important than my dream. That’s when design became just that to me- a dream. Before becoming a mom, it was my plan. Afterward, it was a very abstract wish that I held onto rather loosely. It’s not that I gave up on design. I just resigned myself to the fact that there was really no fashion industry to get into here. We were just starting out with two babies at once to raise and take care of, and my full time job with good benefits took priority over fashion. Sadly, because the dream was painful to think of since I was so far from it at that point, I removed the reminders-putting away my sewing supplies, sending my final collection from school to Goodwill, and trashing my pattern sloper set (my worst mistake perhaps ever!)

    Then one day my coworker and BWFF (best work friend forever) brought in a clipping from the morning newspaper about Midwest Fashion Week. I was floored. While I had my head in the proverbial sands of data entry and such, a fashion industry had been sprouting up around me. It ignited a thought-a whisper-of possibility. A year or two later, I heard of Pattern. There was now a Hoosier fashion magazine? I sarcastically wondered if they featured Carharts and farm attire. (A little Indiana humor, folks.) They were having regular meetups to establish a cohesive industry within our state, so I went to one- and LOVED it! It was on sustainable fashion, which I’ll admit I hadn’t done a lot of thinking about, since I had abstained from fashion altogether for a few years. It struck me that not only is there growth in the fashion industry around me, but the growing societal conscience for sustainable, responsible fashion was a tremendous benefit for local designers.

    You see, we were taught in college to OUTSOURCE EVERYTHING. It took Pattern to break that mentality for me. After studying about the impacts of large scale “fast fashion” I wanted to not only get back to doing what I loved, but help lead the charge for change in the industry which glamorizes disposable fashion and making the quick buck. Learning to sew really, really well has taken me some time. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m pretty darn good. It took a ton of time to hone my pattern-making and -grading skills…and it will require more still. I’ve also had to change my outlook on the ideals of the design industry.  But you know what? It feels so good. The slow road isn’t glamorous. Operating a mom and pop design business (two people actually would be GREAT!) doesn’t equal overnight success. But I can tell all of you aspiring fashion designers that it is such a great way to develop a really strong foundation and skill set to springboard your line an ideas on fashion once you have the fundamental know-how in place.

   Thanks, Pattern, for the role you’ve played in coaxing me out of my comfort zone to jump into the industry. Here’s to making a splash!!!

LaLove Photo Shoot Close-Ups

  The Spring Line pictures are going really well. In addition to designing, making the patterns, and sewing, I’ve been able to model and watch my friend model, which is a really enjoyable process. In the top picture, I’m wearing my LaLove tank with a criss-cross back. You can see the post on it HERE. In the second photo, my gorgeous friend is wearing my newest LaLove crop top. I’ll post more pictures of that project soon.

Say Hello to My Little Flats

IMG_3236I got these new tribal printed Roxy bad boys at TradeHome and I couldn’t be more pleased! Apparently, TradeHome is a store chain that doesn’t spread past the midwest, but if you live near one and you heart comfortable shoes, it’s worth a peek. You won’t find many bargain store prices there, but they make sure the comfort, quality, and style of the shoes they stock are well worth the price.

P.S. Who doesn’t love a little hidden splash of hot pink? These shoes officially contain my favorite insoles. Hmmm, favorite insoles. . .the thing I never knew I always needed!

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Whatch Workin on Wednesday

IMG_3242LaLove Designs Skinny Trousers!!!!! Yay! 

These are one of the items on my current wish list. Most of the things on that list I’ve decided to make myself. I love, love, love buying clothes, but when it’s all said and done, it’s much more fulfilling to wear what I’ve made. (Mostly because if I’m wearing something cute, people always ask me if I’ve made it and It really stinks to have to say no.) I changed my original wide leg trouser pattern block, then made these in muslin and found out the pattern was way off. So I changed the pattern and went ahead and cut these out with that pattern. It was pretty close…close enough that I don’t regret not doing a second muslin mock-up, but not so close that I didn’t have to do quite a bit of seam ripping and pattern alteration. Oh well! Now I have a working pattern from which to make-wait for it….FLORAL CIGARETTE PANTS! (Like the ones below.) I can’t wait. I’ll have to make the leg a little narrower for those, but that won’t be very much trouble. 2015 Floral Pants For Women - Street Style Trends (19)Ok, that easy chic outfit is really spectacular, but back to the pants I’m making today. I still have the button and hemming to do, but that’s what afernoons are for.

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IMG_3245IMG_3246This fabric is adorable! I am and forever will be crazy in love with plaid! This is a very subtle plaid that looks like a gray solid from far away. These pants will go with everything! That’s the way I justify my clothing and shoe purchases, and that’s what I’m using to justify the time taken to make the pattern and sew these babies.

Leave it in the Comment Section:

How many of you make your own patterns? Do any of you know how to do it, but prefer to use store-bought patterns for the sake of time? I’m very curious to know.

Hope this inspires you guys to keep on sewing!

Just when you think it’s too warm for this get-up:

  . . . it’s not!

Sheesh…we’re just completely skipping Spring this year, huh? Winter, Winter, Spring for a day, Winter again, Winter some more, Summer. The bright side is that it’s supposed to be in the 60’s here at some point today, but that first dog walk in the morning still requires bundling up. The real bright side, fashion lovers, is being able to make use of this awesome winter coat with Spring colors.

LaLove Designs

11139850_790414081043640_1519081390_n 10602945_790413951043653_1984979599_nLaLove is introducing it’s very first Spring Line!

Any of the items from my line can be reproduced for clients and made to their measurements or in different fabrics or colors. That’s the way it’s done in the world of Haute Couture, and I’m sure hoping I’ll be able to make a splash that way myself. I’ve decided to start there instead of mass-producing my lines. The reasoning is three-fold. One: Economics. Two: Customization is King. Three: I’m my only employee.

My vision is to innovate new and creative ways for independent designers to go from sewing out of their homes to building a legitimate, lucrative business. To all you designers and entrepreneurs who follow me—You’re in for a ride! Together we’re going to learn to BOOTSTRAP our way to success and fulfillment carving out a way to make a living doing the thing we love, that we were blessed by our Creator to do well. Join me as we build skills: Pattern making, sewing, altering, navigating the retail world, working with clients, budgeting our cash flow, managing time, organizing our space and stuff, and juggling our family, commitments, and outside jobs. You get to see my wacky brainstorms, my successes and failures, and tell about yours so we can all learn together.

Slow Fashion is making a comeback. I’m excited and blessed to be a part of building a community of conscientious makers and consumers!
11093191_790414054376976_1311706552_nThis outfit is a blush pink and gold jacquard crop top and pencil skirt set. The top has a flyaway open back and a comfortable gold elastic band to keep it in place. Both the top and the skirt are fully lined. The skirt zips in the back, but could be customized to zip on the side. My inspiration was the fabric! Every time I passed this in the store, the bolt called to me. I could only ignore it for so long until I purchased it. I had originally planned to make a structured sheath dress with fun, geometric cap sleeves, before I realized it would be perfect to make a crop and skirt set like I had been determined to do this year. I hope to make a dress out of this, as well. 11131789_790413934376988_614356141_n These pictures were taken by my friend Duke of 2K1 Photography here in my hometown. He always does such an amazing job, even though I’m no natural in front of the camera! He probably spends more time trying to get me out of my shyness than snapping pics, but he puts up with me.

You know, readers, that’s one of the amazing things I’m seeing about small business. (And by small business, I mean teeny, tiny, really, really small businesses like mine, where you’re trying to grow from absolutely nothing into a working, functional business.) We get to help each other out. Part of bootstrapping is teaming with other people with similar goals, or people for whom you can supply something they need through your business or talents. This is where your creativity will pay dividends! Look for ins. Look for ways you could help someone whose help you need. Are you a great bookkeeper? Maybe someone is looking for those skills, but can’t yet afford one. So trade for labor. Maybe you’re an organizing freak and addict like I am. Again, use that to help people whose help you need! You would never get free labor just because. But bootstrapping means you’re willing to do work for someone else who in turn can do some work that you need done. And don’t discount a person or a business because they look so much bigger than you are. You never know what needs a company has until you talk to them.

The bottom line is: this is your business, whether it’s a working business already or just a dream you want to pursue. Approach it like a business, but creatively. Never give up. Keep working-with your goal continually in mind. Pray. Dream. This is your business. Work for it!11134188_790413954376986_358253271_n