When the first lockdown started back in March, leaving us with no plans and a whole lot of extra time on our hands, we wondered how we could use all that precious new time. Write that book you’d always been pondering, dust off the sewing machine and make facemasks, set up an online tutoring business for students working towards their GCSEs… the options were endless, we told ourselves.
But some have made their new side hustle a reality, including Sophie Menon, a 30-year-old PA from Berkshire. With a friend, Julie McAllister, she created Fierce Femme – a clothing brand for “the bold and fearless”.
A few months later, their creations were stocked in Desert Rose Boutique, a store in the United Arab Emirates (McAllister lives in Dubai), and have shipped clothes internationally.
“This was something we had always spoken about doing,” Menon explains, and nine months ago, “we decided there was no better time to pursue this.”
The two hope to dedicate more time to the brand as time progresses with a view that it will become a full-time career for them both.
According to recent research by business insurance provider Superscript, three in 10 side hustles were started during the first lockdown, with half of those who responded saying they wanted to earn more disposable income. Others surveyed said they wanted to spend this newfound time doing something they loved.
For Natasha Miles, a 30-year-old freelance fashion producer, that was baking – through which she decided to set up Lilacs Kitchen. Miles had always enjoyed making cakes, but never had the time to pursue it. “You didn’t have enough time to even think when it wasn’t lockdown, let alone practise a side passion that you might be good at,” she adds.
“Suddenly I was at home with unlimited childcare and that time enabled me to develop confidence in myself that this could be more than just a hobby.”
By the time the second lockdown came Miles underwent a food hygiene course, notified the local council and started accepting commissions. Most of all, she was glad to be able to “cheer up” friends and family who were feeling down during those first unpredictable months (ONS figures found that the number of people suffering moderate to severe depression doubled during the first lockdown).