Setting up a side-hustle… then making it your full-time job
Top tips for time management & making it happen by Sarah Birchall, Founder of Cub & Pudding
Starting up a new ambitious business around looking after your children is incredibly challenging. Add a full-time job in the City into the mix and you’re going to need some next-level time management skills!
In this blog, Sarah Birchall, mother of a 4 year old and 7 year old explains how she went from a City PA, (wondering how her maternity-cover pitstop had turned into a 9-year stretch) to Founder of unisex and sustainable kidswear brand, Cub & Pudding. Want to learn how Sarah set up a side-hustle around her full-time job, only to transition her side hustle into her full-time job? Then read on my friend.
Setting up a side-hustle… then making it your full-time job
1. What inspired you to set up Cub & Pudding?
I’ve always loved dressing my two kids (a boy and a girl) in unique and interesting ways – it just felt an obvious step that the time and effort I put into my own wardrobe should extend to them too. It all got very digger/dinosaur/navy/brown for my son after he passed toddler age so it got harder to find what I wanted for him – playful prints and fun colourways.
2. How did you take your first steps to get your business off the ground? How did you know what to do?
I took an online fashion manufacturing course via the London College of Fashion to understand the very basics of where to start. I also spent a lot of time at the British Library (my favourite place to work remotely). They have an amazing resource to research market trends and also take short workshops on the back-end-boring part of business such as copyrighting, business planning.
I listened to women in business podcasts and read books such as Fashionpedia (lifeline for non-retail and fashion people!) and contacted some of my fave kidswear brands to pick their brains for advice on starting out.
3. How long was Cub & Pudding a side hustle?
18 months – the first 6 months I worked full-time then I asked to drop to a 4-day week for the last 10 months.
4. What were the key challenges you experienced in launching your brand whilst working full-time?
Time. Every task I had to complete – from social media posts, sending out orders, production queries, designing, had to be fitted in around my day job. I pounce on my phone at any free second to reply to emails and Instagram activity and when my boss was in a long meeting I’d also sneak in time on my work PC to research and iron out issues. My commute in and of work was my solid Cub & Pudding ‘office time’ to get a good hour of uninterrupted work in. Working into the evenings after the kids went to bed was a given and I actually didn’t mind because my husband is freelance and often worked evenings so before Cub & Pudding I was often just killing time watching trash on TV so having a purpose of an evening was quite refreshing.
5. How did these challenges impact you and how did they make you feel?
I was running on adrenaline in the early days and grateful to be using my brain in creative and fulfulling ways so I lapped it up. But as the months went by the business got busier, I started to resent my day job more and more. I was irritated to be wasting my time doing mundane tasks such as other people’s expenses or formatting a boring Word documment whilst my real passion took a backseat during the daytime.
6. What key lessons have you learned that could share with others going through these challenges?
Having a side-hustle is sensible, hard as it may be to balance. There were plenty of times I wanted to walk in and hand my notice in but I knew I had to be sensible and time it right. I learnt to flip perspective and see my day job as being of use to me, rather than purely a hindrance. I could use their printer, pop to a post office at lunch on their time and rather than feel fed up at the lack of brain cells being put to good use, I found it a positive that I could save all my creative energy for my commute home or evening. It wasn’t always that simple but the regular pay cheque each month was a useful reminder to hang in there..
7. What advice could you give about how to manage your time when trying to launch a business whilst working full-time?
Try and plan wisely rather than flit about reacting to things as they pop up – I use Trello on my phone and laptop as a handy way of tracking things I might forget to do and organising tasks by priority. I used my daily commute to and from the office as pure Cub & Pudding task-time – so try and find a slot each day which works for you to dedicate solely to your business without distraction.
8. Were there moments when it was hard to keep a positive mindset or when it all felt too much? What kept you going when things were tough?
When my office job got really busy at periods and I was worn out and could see I was neglecting my business as I couldn’t find the time and energy, it could get tough. But I learnt that those moments didn’t last, I would come out of them. Tempting as it may be to stay up half the night trying to fit it all in after you get home from work, I learnt it was far better to go to bed early and get a solid night’s sleep to tackle my job and side-hustle with fresh energy the next day.
9. Did you set yourself clear goals about your transition from working full-time in the city to working full-time on Cub & Pudding?
To be honest my goal was to get to 40 (in April 2021) and leave my full-time job by then – it felt like a distinct life moment to recognise by starting full-time afresh doing what I love. But I didn’t last that long! I started suffering from a lot of anxiety towards the end of 2019 as I felt I couldn’t maintain the juggle between two different worlds – so I handed in my notice.
10. How clear were you on your financial planning about when and how you’d make that transition?
I was on 3 month’s notice so from the moment I resigned I went into uber-frugal mode. I’m not fab with money to be honest and don’t have any savings to call on so as far as planning went it was as simple as, if I don’t absolutely need it (i.e. clothes!), I’m no longer buying it!
11. What would your top tips be for someone interested in following your footsteps?
Ensure you have an emergency two months savings set aside of what you’d need as absolute minumum to pay the bills, in case of unpredictable quiet periods. Make sure you know where and how you plan to work full-time once you’re full immersed in the business? Working from home in the evenings is fine but when your house becomes your new office, it just isn’t always practical to run a business from there. I found a studio with my husband and friend whilst still side-hustling, which means I no longer have to work from my bedroom and also gives a clear line in the sand where business life stops and homelife pootles along!
12. What are your plans for the future of Cub & Pudding?
I have new products and prints brewing and some exciting collaborations I hope will spring to life in 2020. There’s also a Kickstarter Campaign I’m working on to raise funds for a whole collection working with more diverse fabrics, prints and finishes – watch this space!
13. What’s been the best thing about your journey with Cub & Pudding so far?
The freedom and not being answerable to anyone but myself – being able to see my kids far more in the week is really comforting (and also highly irritating at times!). The support from customers who’ve been with me from the start and bought multiple times is so heart-warming too.
I had a bottle of champagne set aside when I launched and I told myself I wouldn’t open it until a complete stranger placed an order. I need to remind myself of that more often, ten months in, as that is pretty much 90% of the time now and something I never wanted to take for granted.
14. If there is one thing you couldn’t do this without, what would it be?
Friends to soundboard, rant, laugh and cry with and disgustingly cheesy as it is – my husband’s loyalty, design talent and support (even if we can’t collaborate together for longer than an hour as I hate being given direction by him! Waaay too independent and stubborn I am! Ha!)
Thank you so much Sa x
With many thanks to Sa for sharing her experience of setting up Cub & Pudding as a side hustle and transitioning it to her full-time job. Such an impressive achievement!
Do any of Sa’s lessons resonate with you?
Have her experiences given you some pointers you could use in your buisness?
Let me know in the comments 👇💕