SIDE HUSTLE STORIES – GINA THOMAS

So who is Gina Thomas?

Strangely this is the hardest question to answer. I didn’t have a happy childhood, my mother was both controlling and abusive. I think she had made up her mind who her daughter should be before I was even born, and I could never live up to those expectations. I was subjected to numerous activities not of my choosing and was therefore a constant disappointed to her when I didn’t excel at them. I was not good enough for her and anything that went wrong in our family was somehow my fault. I was very unhappy and depressed by age 12, bullied at home and at school, the only place I found love and happiness was in the company of the animals in my life. The effect of this upbringing was an extremely naïve, confused teenager with no self esteem, after all if your own parents didn’t think you were good enough and you were unworthy of their love then I must be a really bad person. At 16 my parents split up, just a couple of months after we moved 100 miles from where I had grown up, so now I was in a new area with no friends and suddenly launched into the world completely unprepared. That naivety led to lots of hard life lessons, I took people at face value and couldn’t see the hidden agendas until it was too late. I married young and had two children by the time I was 23, the marriage didn’t last, he was a nice person but we were not well matched and wanted completely different things in life, we are however still friends. They say you are drawn to what is familiar and so I guess it is no surprise that I ended up in a relationship with someone who was a male version of my mother. Over time this relationship became more controlling, abusive and violent. We had a child together and I had also taken on his 4 children, 3 of which lived with us permanently. So now I was a mum to 6 kids, the day after my son was born I was back on the school run! As his behaviour escalated I was desperate to get out, the more I stood up for myself the more he turned up the heat, then one day I reached the point where I decided enough was enough and I tried to kick him out. I tried to end the relationship, unfortunately this led to a four hour torrent of abuse while my 3 children were upstairs, (his children had already moved out at this point) the ordeal ended with him holding a loaded gun to my head shouting that the relationship wasn’t over until he said so! I had heard him opening the gun case and so I had rung the police and was giving them a running commentary whilst trying to talk him out of shooting either me or himself. He fled when he realised the police were on their way. Despite an illegal fully working gun with live ammo, he didn’t get any prison time! He stalked us for 2 years and breached every injunction I had, but even though people saw this everyone was scared of him, so they would never sign anything declaring what they had seen. I was now a single mum living in a women’s refuge with 3 traumatised children. It took all my strength and energy trying to make sure my kids would be ok and I spent the next 15 years focused on their needs, rebuilding our lives and trying to cope with the PTSD I was finally diagnosed with. So I was a 30 something single mum who had no idea who the real me was any more. Fast forward to 2021 and I had a noise sensitive, reactive dog who wasn’t coping with life and I was feeling like a prisoner in my own home. I needed a mindfulness activity, something just for me, and so I decided to try macrame and completely fell in love with it. So here we are in 2022, and at the grand age of 53, and living alone for the first time as my daughter has just moved out, I am starting to develop myself, finding the things that bring me joy. So I am a survivor, I’m too stubborn to let these people win by making me bitter, I always put my family first, my kids and grandchildren are my world. I’m full of empathy and earned the nickname MamaG because I have taken in several of my kids friends when their home life was too much for them. Some of them stayed with me full time for months, others came and went when needed and when my kids were teenagers my house was like a youth club, a safe haven full of lads that expressed themselves through music. I love creativity and have always supported others to strive for their creative goals. Now it’s my turn.

 

How did you cross paths with Julie and Happy Side Hustle?

 A couple of months after starting to learn macrame I saw a Facebook ad for Julie’s free 5 day challenge The Happy Side Hustle Idea Inside You.

 

How did you feel when you found out about the challenge?

This sounded great and I signed up, I was excited to join in and as my daughter was away that week, I had total freedom to get involved.

 

Why did you decide to join it?

That’s a hard one, I loved all of it, but when we had to ask others what they thought we were good at I was really touched and surprised by the answers I got back. It was a little insight into how others see me. I am always far too hard on myself, and not so good at seeing my qualities. I am a work in progress.

 

What was your favourite part of the challenge?

That’s a hard one, I loved all of it, but when we had to ask others what they thought we were good at I was really touched and surprised by the answers I got back. It was a little insight into how others see me. I am always far too hard on myself, and not so good at seeing my qualities. I am a work in progress.

 

What was your biggest takeaway or a-ha moment from the challenge?

That I can do more than I think I can, and that being around supportive people makes a massive difference, I was not used to being on the receiving end of that kind of support and suddenly I was in this challenge and everyone was just so lovely.

 

Who would benefit most from this challenge?

Anyone who has a hobby and has wondered if they could sell their items/skills or anyone with the desire to start a small business but isn’t sure what direction they want to go in.

 

Where can we find you?

 The Crafty Witch:

Etsy:

www.TheCraftyWitch96.etsy.com

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/thecraftywitchesden

What is your next big goal?

To transform my daughter’s old office into a dedicated space for my macrame and all my side hustle related paraphernalia, like packaging boxes etc. The whole room needs to be decorated and furnished with suitable storage to make it easier for me to tidily store all my different cords, beads etc and to have a nice flat surface for measuring cord on. This will make it so much easier to craft more efficiently. I spend too much time looking for things at the moment as all my equipment is spread over 3 rooms in various drawer units.

 

Are you in the ‘The Inner Circle’ or ‘The Hive’?

Yes I am in the Happy Hustle Hive.

It is an amazing place to be, apart from all the knowledge, masterclasses and lives you have access to, the women there are all so caring, supportive and wonderful, it has really enriched my life and I am making some genuine friendships in the Hive.

 

Did you have any experience running your own side hustle before? How did that go and what do you know now that you didn’t know then?

Years ago I ran a band, I took care of all the bookings, advertising, and paperwork. Pre covid I was running my own Reiki Healing business, but due to circumstances with my dog and the risks of covid I haven’t re opened since lockdown. I found it much easier to promote a service than a product.

Both of these went very well because it was mostly based on word of mouth and reputation. I had no idea how to do online marketing, and I’m not tech savvy. I have learned so much since joining the Hive, from how to grow my side hustle, how to promote myself, and how to use various social media platforms and programmes such as Canva. I have learned about the best way to post online and engage with potential ideal customers. Each time I take part in one of Julie’s challenges and implement the strategies, I see my side hustle grow and my sales improve.

 

What’s your biggest tip for someone who’s considering setting up a side hustle?

Don’t try to do it alone! Join Julie’s world. There really are so many ways that a side hustle can end up not succeeding, but if you have a map showing you the way, and you can be saved from the pitfalls by the experience and knowledge available to you, why wouldn’t you. Julie has an amazing energy and an infectious enthusiasm, and has created a community full of lovely, supportive women who are ready to help you every step of the way.

 

What’s your favourite thing about being in The Hive?

Being a part of the hive community and feeling like I just became part of a great big loving family where I actually fit in.

 

What’s your favourite thing about your new happy side hustle?

Having a sense of purpose again, my side hustle is giving me a chance to express myself and really step into who I am, and to be proud of who I am and what I am achieving.

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