Creative Side Hustle Spotlight: Ashby’s Happy Bags

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    “Good things happen to those who hustle.” – Anais Nin

    Do you have a side hustle or new creative project? If not, Why not? There are SEVERAL benefits to having a side hustle. Need some convincing? According to Psychology Today, a side hustle can bring you… 

    • A competitive advantage in your career 
    • Multiple income streams
    • Much-needed change 
    • New opportunities 
    • Unique networking 
    • Balance in your career 
    • Use of your creative juices 

    You probably recognize this bombshell from Dia&CoAshby Vose is a body positivity advocate and a prominent voice in the plus-size fashion industry. She has worked with countless women, helping them along their style journey and guiding them on the journey of self-love. From hosting a weekly style video to creating social content for Dia&Co, Ashby is actively trying to better the digital landscape to make it more reflective of plus-size women and their stories.

    BUT…Did you know about Ashby’s Happy Bags

    When I learned about Ashby’s new side hustle. I was SUPER excited to learn more about Ashby’s Happy Bags AND…I couldn’t wait to share her story with YOU! 

    Natasha: What is your new passion project/side hustle?

    Ashby: I am painting handbags with vibrant, happy, and bold motifs. Meet Ashby’s Happy Bags!

    Natasha: What prompted the new venture?

    Ashby: I love painting. Painting little things for friends and co-workers have always been fun for me, but I knew that I wanted to make something wearable. Fashion is my first love, and painting is my second. One day, scrolling through my feed, I stumbled upon a bag that I just knew I had to have. It was $400 which is totally out of my budget, but it was so cute. It was a circle bag featuring a cyclops sunshine smiling back at me. I knew that I could paint that myself. I recently had gone to a Kate Spade event where an artist would paint on your new bag and so I headed to Kate Spade’s Instagram to see if I could figure out what kind of materials that artist was using. Sure enough, the artist was featured on their Instagram so I headed to her profile and one of her followers asked what the brand of paint was. She tagged the brand, I went to their Instagram profile and then quickly made my first purchase of acrylic leather paint. I then went to Forever 21 to buy a similarly shaped bag for $22, which was totally in my budget. When everything arrived, I got started and painted the sunshine bag of my dreams. Once I had the paint, I just couldn’t get enough and saw everything leather as a canvas. I instantly knew I had to sell these bags.

    Natasha: What are your 2018 goals for Ashby’s Happy Bags?

    Ashby: My 2018 goals are to solidify my pricing structure and to turn a profit. Those are my least favorite parts of this venture for me but are helping me learn a lot. Painting the bags is fun. Marketing the bags on my social media is also fun. I even enjoy shipping and writing thank you notes to my customers! I don’t love keeping a spreadsheet of my expenses or calculating prices, but my goal is to feel comfortable with this by the end of the year.

    Natasha: Do you believe most people should have a side hustle?

    Ashby: I believe that some people benefit from having a side hustle, and others would be overwhelmed. I think it truly depends on what kind of person you are and what your favorite hobbies are. Painting was a fun hobby for me and eventually transformed into something more. I often work with fashion influencers who are also accountants. Their work in finance doesn’t make space for a creative outlet so they created their own outlet by blogging about fashion. For me, I have tried to run a blog and build out my personal social following as a side hustle and quickly burnt out because my 9-5 work is so similar because I work in fashion and most of my work is in social media and blogs. I learned that it doesn’t feel like fun if it also feels like work, even if work is fun.

    Natasha: What were the biggest challenge(s) you overcame with your side hustle?

    Ashby: How to put a monetary value on my time is the biggest struggle for me. I want to sell bags to friends and family and I want them to sell. Therefore, I want my bags to be a reasonable price. But the first criticism I got was that I was undervaluing my talent and time. I thought to myself, this $17-bag is not worth $100. But the truth is that this $17 bag was made in a factory with countless others that look just like it. Once I’ve transformed it into a one-of-a-kind, hand-painted piece of art, it’s worth so much more. I still don’t want to charge my customers (who are primarily friends and family) prices that I wouldn’t pay for a statement fashion bag, so finding that balance is really tricky.

    Natasha: What advice would you give to those interested in starting a new side hustle?

    Ashby: Be patient. Once my bags actually started to sell, I got a rush of adrenaline and quickly started scouring the internet for the best handbags to buy, paint, and transform. All the sudden I had 20 new bags to paint and no time to paint them. Everyone is so quick to offer “advice” because everyone is an entrepreneur. Listen to yourself. For me, I have a strong vision and voice and I know what I want to paint and what I want my shop to look like. I smile and nod when people tell me what to paint, what categories I should expand to, how I should create a mini collection. I know what I want to do, and I am trusting my gut. I recommend anyone else starting a side hustle makes sure that this is a project that will truly bring you joy and that won’t feel like work. It’s not a passion project if you have no more passion for it, so take it slow and be true to yourself. 

    “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

    If you are thinking of starting or growing your side hustle, don’t let fear or haters stand in your way! I am so glad that Ashby started Ashby’s Happy Bags, and I can’t wait to see every new beautiful creation she makes! 

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