Are you one of the thousands of women who have A Bit on the Side?! As in, you have a day job but also a sideline? (probably alongside juggling home and family life)
It might be selling cosmetics, making cupcakes, or writing a blog. Perhaps you dream one day of giving up your day job and concentrating on your sideline? Or maybe you love both things equally?
In this new series, we feature inspiring women who have A Bit on the Side and aren’t afraid to admit it! First up is Laura Connolly who combines an amazing career in sports development with running an online baby gifts store
Tell us about yourself
I’m a 33 year old female that was born and raised in London. Studied Law at University, but went on to work in the Sports Industry for Westminster City Council for 10 years when London was granted the Olympics in 2012. I currently work at an adult mental health charity called Core Arts, where I am the Inclusive Sports Development Manager, where this year saw us pick up the Club Of The Year Award at the London Sport Awards 2018. I absolutely love my job, so much so I work 6 full days a week and have been there for 3 years. My department Core Sport is pretty much a one woman show and I run and manage it singlehandedly. Mental health is a topic very close to my heart, as I have had many struggles in the past and have close friends and family members who have also lived with mental health illnesses too.
My hobbies include watching and playing sports in a variety of disciplines and I love spending time with my family.
Tell us about your day job and your bit on the side (and do you keep it a secret?!)
As I said previously I work for an adult mental health charity, which I really love. My job is really rewarding, but at the same time can be very stressful and draining. I wouldn’t change it for the world though. I get to spend my days with some of the nicest people you will ever get to meet, helping them through the toughest of times which has a huge stigma surrounding them. It is something that has touched my life personally too. We are a really small charity, but we really do make such a BIG difference!
I started Bespoke Baby after my niece, Isabelle was born. I have always had a keen interest in arts and crafts and have a large collection of beads at home, along with a load of other bits and bobs. I wanted to make something for Isabelle rather than buying something. So my first piece was a personalised pacifier chain. My sister told me some of the feedback from her friends and other parents from groups she had attended and a few requests started to come in. That’s when Bespoke Baby was born and created.
I don’t keep it a secret at all. I like my bit on the side to be out there. The more people that know about it, the better!
What’s the best part of having a bit on the side?
It helps me relax. I have quite a physically and mentally draining day job, so its something else I enjoy and takes my mind off stressful situations that I am around most of the day. Its more of a hobby that brings in a bit of loose change now and again. I am also a massive insomniac, only sleeping about 3 hours a night. So I tend to have a lot more spare hours than most people
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge I have faced so far is building up a customer base and also getting brand awareness. Its tough when you first set out. It can be quite disheartening after all the hard work you put in to create products, build a website, do promotion etc and having to wait for your first customer especially as there is so much competition out there. You really do have to put in a lot of work and effort. However you do really get out what you put in.
What’s your advice for others looking for a bit on the side?
My advice for others looking for a bit on the side is to make sure you do something that you enjoy and have a passion for. You have to put in a lot of hours into it, so its not advisable to do something you hate or just a “get rich quick” scheme.
What are your hopes for the next 12 months?
I will be expanding the range I make and sell quite soon. I want to continue to grow my customer base and get my brand out there. I would also like to hold a craft stall at some fayres/markets. By the end of the 12 months I would like my products to be stocked in some retail stores and other online shops.