THE SECRETS OF
Want to boost your income or have fun with a creative
project, but not ready to give up your day job? Be inspired by
these four entrepreneurial women who do both
Seanna Mulrean "When I was younger it
was a dream to run my own
WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY NATHALIE MARQUEZ-COURTNEY creative business"
D AY J O B : Partner in a commercial law firm
S I D E H U S T L E : Co-founder of Etc, an event styling and
prop hire company
“I have always had a love of all things creative. When I was
younger, it was a dream to run my own creative business. I
always imagined that it would be something in fashion, perhaps
a clothes shop or clothing brand.
Launching Etc sprang from a conversation with my good friend
and now business partner Lesiele over a glass of wine one day.
She had recently moved here from Sydney, where she worked
for many years as a stylist. We were discussing the prop hire and
events industry scene in Australia, and how we believed there
was room in the Irish market for something new and inspiring.
The timing was perfect, as Lesiele was building her profile as a
stylist in Ireland and I had just decided to take a step back from
my legal career to spend more time with my daughters.
These days, I try to split my time 50/50 between the office and
Etc but it can vary depending on what projects we’re working
on. The pace and intensity very much differs in each, so it can be
tricky sometimes switching from one activity to the other.
Running this as a side project allows me to do something
new I really love while continuing my career as a lawyer. The
creatives in Ireland are a fabulous bunch, and you will easily
find people willing to give advice, make introductions and
collaborate. It's great what can be achieved regardless of what
start up capital you may or may not have.”
D AY J O B : Merchandiser at Arnotts, Dublin
S I D E H U S T L E : Jewellery designer
“I have loved designing and making jewellery since I was
teenager and always talked about setting up a business but
just didn’t have the confidence to do it. Turning 30 and being
inspired by a couple of entrepreneurial friends encouraged me
to finally give it a go. I launched the brand three years ago,
starting off with a website and then gradually building and
adding retail stockists.
My collection is simple with a twist. The pieces vary from
clean, geometric shapes on fine chains to statement pieces
that mix pearls with studs and chains. I like to create easy-to-
wear and accessible jewellery that can be worn every day with
a t-shirt or layered up for a night out.
I love my day job, it’s a very analytical role so I spend most of
my day looking at numbers and spreadsheets. It’s a welcome
escape to come home and focus on something creative.
Running a business is hard work and can be very overwhelming
at times so having the security of a full-time job means that I
can develop the brand at my own pace. My biggest challenge
is time - working full-time I have to be really organised so I’m
constantly making to-do lists!
Work has been incredibly supportive. Luckily, working in
retail means that my colleagues appreciate the work involved
in launching a brand and the importance of encouraging Irish
design. They have been great sounding boards for new designs
and ventures too.
Most of my time outside of work is spent on jewellery; it can
be all-consuming so I make a conscious effort to make time to
relax, catch up with friends and switch off.
I would encourage anyone with a dream project to give it a go
- even if it doesn’t work out, at least you won’t regret not trying.”
Torylong.com. In July, Tory launches an exclusive collection
in collaboration with April and The Bear; aprilandthebear.com
D AY J O B : Graphic designer
S I D E H U S T L E : Golden Child, an online vintage clothes
shop for kids
“While I was living in California with my boyfriend a couple of
years ago, a tight budget coupled with a desire to consume less
‘stuff’ took me to the local thrift shop more often than not.
I occasionally browsed the childrens’ section and couldn’t
believe the quality of some of the stuff. I found things like Osh
Kosh dungarees from the '70s and '80s that looked new. It dawned
on me how quickly children grow and how much perfectly good
clothing gets left in their wake. We came home from California in
2015 with excess baggage and a tiny baby in my belly.
As my pregnancy progressed, I worked on the website, branding
and photography for the shop. Things ground to a halt when our
son Tadhg was born but it wasn’t long until I felt the need to flex
my creative muscles a little bit. I launched Golden Child on my
25th birthday, when Tadhg was five months old. Crazy timing, but
it felt right. It's an online vintage clothes shop for babies, boys and
girls and it's stocked to the chops with sturdy denims, gorgeous
dresses, cosy knits, and lots of classic dungarees.
I am still figuring it all out - it’s a minefield. Being a graphic
designer was both a blessing and a curse. I had the skills necessary
to create a website and identity for my project but I was also my
own worst critic. Having a baby also means that I just have to grab
slices of time whenever I get the chance. I love to work and could
spend all day long figuring things out, tweaking, editing and
updating but on the flip side I could go days without doing a tap.
My advice for anyone thinking of setting up a side project is to
just go for it. You’ll never know if you don’t try. It might not work,
but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?”
D AY J O B : Press officer at the Kerlin Gallery
S I D E H U S T L E : Vertov, a vintage shop selling fashion and
“I’ve always been very interested in both art and fashion, and
I’m always looking for ways to bridge the two - I could never
choose just one thing, I’m too curious!
I launched Vertov because I love to travel and I love finding
things. Sometimes I would see things that I felt were amazing,
but that I wouldn’t necessarily wear myself. I’d think, 'Someone
should have them,' so I started bringing pieces back from my
travels. A lot of friends would ask me to find things for them too,
so it formed quite organically from there. It’s partly online, but I
do a lot of markets as well.
It’s a super small operation - I don’t go to wholesalers, I pick
everything myself from markets, charity shops, or places in Europe
where you can find gems that are a little bit cheaper. I have a blog
too (vertovvertov.tumblr.com), that explores vintage pop culture,
like cool '60s models and more obscure vintage icons. I’d love to do
more too, like launch a film club and screen vintage films.
Even though I work across two totally different industries,
there are a lot transferable skills. Working as a press officer means
I handle all media and communications, including social media
and writing press releases, so those skills apply to both and even
though the fashion and the art worlds are very different, there’s a
lot of crossover too.
I’ve only ever seen Vertov as a side hustle, and I like that. It’s
really nice to be able to come home and indulge in my love of
vintage fashion. Having it as my full-time thing would almost take
the fun out of it! “
Only do it if you really
It takes commitment and
discipline to come home from
the office, open the laptop and
start working again. If you’re not
passionate about your project,
you’ll fall at the first hurdle.
Have a clear idea of
what you want to
Just because it’s a side project
doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put
the time into creating a solid plan,
complete with goals and timelines.
Use a free, simple project
management tool like Trello (trello.
com) to keep track of things.
Follow your instincts
This is your project and part of
the fun of it is having complete
Be realistic with your
Organise your time wisely and
focus on what has impact. Try
not to overcommit, as you’ll risk
comprising your business or your
Ask for help and advice
People will support your passion,
if you ask. Maybe your aunt is
an accountant and can give you
some pointers, or you have a
photographer friend who can
take a few professional snaps.