The industry is increasingly recognising and valuing the side hustle. Side hustles are finally gaining the recognition they deserve.
People are waking up to the fact that they are a fantastic way to foster a spirit of entrepreneurialism and help people stay stimulated which is essential to sustaining a buoyant, interesting industry. There has been a rise in the number of awards that recognise the side hustle and this shows how fundamental they are now within the fabric of creativity.
When I founded BleepBleeps in 2014, it was one of the many side hustles I had alongside my full-time job. I was working as ECD at Being/TBWA – a brand behaviour agency specialising in innovation, technology and design at the time. So, I was lucky enough to always be spending time around like-minded people. I am a staunch believer in creativity being a powerful, influential force in the world. Creativity has the ability to solve both practical and cultural problems, and was integral to my own side hustle. The product was a creative, tech-driven solution to real life parenting challenges, and a design-minded approach was essential to the success of BleepBleeps.
When I first started out, I looked to others for inspiration and to keep me motivated. To remind me that if they could do it, so could I. I truly believe that taking inspiration from others can strengthen your side hustle - whether that is seeing how they find a creative solution or how platforms can nurture the innovations of others. These are my favourite businesses that inspire me, that also either started life off as a side hustle or still run as one. These are just a few examples that showcase how a creative approach is a powerful force.
This premium portfolio brand was created by a young architect launching on Kickstarter. It reimagines the portfolio with designs that are built to last through a creative education and career. The project was given a D&AD New Blood Side Hustle Award and is creatively inspiring because the founder, through a side hustle, found solutions to the challenges he faced in his main job. The venture solved specific creative industry problems that hadn’t been addressed before.
Created by Bethany Koby whilst at brand consultancy Wolff Olins, these tech toys first started out as workshops for creatives looking to learn how to make and code. Now, they’re best selling STEM toys helping kids everywhere realise they can shape and invent it. What better example to learn from than this once side hustle that now sparks the creative imagination of young people using hands-on technology? By inspiring the next generation to innovate, Tech Will Save Us can show us a lot about how to improve our creative thinking for practical uses.
This original side hustle is a desktop vacuum formerly created by two London creatives wanting to help makers make. It speeds up the product development cycle and helps people bring their next idea to fruition. We can learn from Mayku how, by focusing on solving the practical challenges around innovation, we can help better enable creativity through providing seemingly simple but essential solutions.
An experiment in crowdfunding and manufacturing undertaken by two product designers/lecturers, Line-us is a small robot arm that draws with a pen on paper whatever you draw on screen. Its purpose is to encourage drawing and experimenting. I find this side hustle a joy because it opens up the mind using a great piece of technology, and has great potential to help designers innovate.
I am lucky to now be part of the judging panel for the D&AD Awards Side Hustle category. Introduced to reflect the increasing number of ambitious and thriving creatives applying their skills and personal passions to side projects, the category aims to spotlight world-class creativity beyond people’s day jobs. I am proud to be a judge for this, as it is a rare source for finding inspiration as well as giving passion projects recognition that can, in turn, add prestige and bring value to their creators. Representation for side hustles is important. If you can see it, you can be it, so it is vital to hear the stories, recognise and reward the people who have followed their dream and taken the leap.
Tom Evans is the founder BleepBleeps, a hardware startup creating internet connected consumer electronics and digital services to simplify parenting.