What inspired you to start your side hustle, and how did you come up with the idea?

It was early 2020. I was looking to do something creative to supplement my income (I was working two days a week for a high end Makeup brand, Laura Mercier, in John Lewis) when I stumbled across Julie’s 5 day challenge. I was keen on starting a cupcake business but on the 4th day of the challenge, I woke up to find out, through the media, that John Lewis was closing down and I no longer had a job – a side hustle was now desperately needed, so I started making face masks. I knew this wouldn’t be a long term business venture and had also worked out that my kitchen needed some considerable work done in order to run my dream hustle. It was around the time that my daughter was starting to go through puberty and I was wondering how best to support her. Thinking back to my own experiences, I remember my Mom being very practical, making sure I had all the things I needed for when I started my period, but I was given “The Talk” at school. When the day finally came, my Mom gave me what I needed, but it was my Dad who came and sat on my bed and hugged me while I sobbed, telling me that he understood what I was going through and that everything was going to be alright. At the time, I thought “How do you know what I’m going through?!” but over the years, that memory stayed with me. I often remembered how kind he was to me that day and considered how difficult that must have been for him, reaching out to me over such a taboo subject, especially as a man in the early 1990’s! It was with this in mind that I always vowed to have open conversation with own daughter, making sure that she always felt that she could talk to me about anything, so my next step in the world of Side Hustles was just a natural progression of that. I made a prototype, then a proper pouch and gifted it to my girls best friend – just in time for her period to start – and she was thrilled! It became my mission to spread the love and nurture that my Dad showed me that fateful day, which has become even more poignant since I lost him 2 years ago, and to help other parents to do the same.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when launching your side hustle, and how did you overcome them?

I think my biggest challenge was/is lack of self belief. I was terrified to contact insurance companies, banks and the HMRC – filling in forms is my idea of a nightmare – and I suppose I am my own worst critic. I just had to bite the bullet and get it done. The support read “whipcracking” of Julie (Thanks Julie!) and having likeminded women around me, really helped me feel the fear and do it anyway!

How has your side hustle positively impacted your life?

On a personal level, I never thought little old me could achieve much, let alone set up a business and (just about) keep it afloat for 3 years. It has made me realise I am stronger and more resilient than I thought, having come close to jacking it all in a couple of times and yet not actually giving in. It’s also been a source of some very happy memories, such as treating Immi to some wonderful days out. Professionally, I have learned a lot, both through my failures and successes, I have become more confident in my abilities, developed and am still developing my range. I have gone on to do two short university courses (I never went to Uni!) and have had some incredibly proud moments!

What do you think sets your side hustle apart from others in your industry?

I think what sets me apart from other people who sell First Period Kits/Pouches is that I’m not just trying to sell a product. I really want to change the lives of the generations to come, by encouraging open conversation between parents & caregivers and their children. I am also looking to change the mindset of schools around the subject of periods and I’m on a mission to help improve period poverty in the UK. I am also keen to be inclusive of all genders, ensuring that the option is given to choose the pronouns, colours and artwork of my inserts, to better cater for any person receiving one of my kits. I suppose you could say I have a holistic approach to this, considering each person individually, rather than assuming all people want something pretty or “girly”.

Can you share a success story or proud moment from your side hustle journey so far?

Gosh, I have so many! Aside from my first sale to a stranger, and all the wonderful reviews and messages of thanks I have had from parents, who have said their child has been thrilled with their kit and that it has allowed for open conversations, I think my proudest moments were collaborating with a parent who’s child identifies as male, making sure that everything about the kit was perfect for him and, of course, the bulk order I got from my daughters Girl Guiding unit. They invited me to do a talk about periods and then the leaders gave the girls their personalised kits. Sitting there, watching them open their boxes, listening to little squeaks and squeals of delight filled my heart and made my eyes leak!

What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting their own side hustle?

Feel the fear and do it anyway! Julie, has a WEALTH of knowledge and she, Gillian and all the bees have your back. Just like I’ve learned, your side hustle can evolve – I never thought I would be trying to tackle the education system about periods and toilets, but I am so glad I have! My cupcake dream is just on hold…sometimes, you need a side hustle to fund your side hustle! Be open to new opportunities, listen to Julie and above all, believe in yourself! (Cupcake anyone?!)

How has Julie and the Happy Side Hustle community helped you along your side hustle journey?

How haven’t they?! From mopping my tears to making me laugh, from giving sage advice to celebrating my small (and big) wins, from supporting me through life’s toughest challenges to encouraging me to keep going, from standing with me while I make mistakes to delighting with me when I get it right, from being by my side when I need them to giving me space to grow…there isn’t an area of my life, since I started this journey, that Julie and her amazing community haven’t touched. I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of this awesome corner of the internet and I can’t wait to meet more of my friends in real life!!

What’s next for your side hustle, and where do you see it going in the future?

Well, in terms of products, I am looking into new designs (I just love putting fabrics together) but I also want to extend the range of things I make – I’m thinking tampon holders, waterproof bags, wash bags and reusable face pads – all the things that teens might like. Also diary’s, journals, mugs, pens and posters, all with positive messages on them (things that might sell at craft fairs whilst I talk about periods). However, something that has been on my mind since I did the sustainability course, at Aston Uni, was something that the mentor from there mentioned, and was then reinforced on my Voxer call with Julie, earlier in November. I am looking to turn ALBL into a Social Enterprise – I’m not sure quite how yet, but I am working on the how’s and who’s and am currently looking for ways in which I can get funding, once I’ve sorted it out. One thing I do know is, that I want to go into schools to fight their systems around using the toilets – it is appalling that our children are denied this most basic human right.

How has being a part of the Happy Hustle Hive helped you achieve your goals?

The Happy Hustle Hive has helped me achieve my goals in so many different ways. It’s given me given me a safe space to find my feet, plant roots and start to grow. It’s been a shelter when life has gotten stormy and been a ray of light when I have felt a bit lost. From the gentle reminders, to the kicks up the bum, the Hive has set me on the right path and has kept me going, even when I have wanted to give up. When goals are set, the Hive has delivered motivation and encouragement at every turn yet has been somewhere where it’s excepted when I’ve taken the scenic route to get there! I have never felt judged, only accepted and loved for who I am, so how can any of that be anything other than a recipe for success? I’m not there YET, but it’s where I am going, and I have all of you lovely people to thank for that, Julie & Gillian especially!

What’s your favourite thing about being a side hustler, and how has it impacted your life in a positive way?

My favourite thing about being a Happy Side Hustler has got to be the amazing community! I have made friends for life in there (yep, you’re stuck with me now ) some of whom are now like family. I am so glad I found this little corner of the internet, was made redundant and had no other choice but to try and go it alone because, although I might have a bit more cash in my pocket from being employed, I am FAR richer for it, especially in terms of friends

Where can we find you?