For Creative Pros, Side Hustles Just Keep Growing
In the second month of my maternity leave, in the midst of a postnatal hormone rollercoaster ride, and suddenly finding myself with the most expendable time I'd ever had in my adult life (aside from the small human feeding off of me), I passed an empty storefront with a "For Rent" sign on the door. Before my husband could even utter the words "let's talk about this over dinner tonight," I'd signed a two-year commercial lease. And thus, a little plant shop called WYLD was born.
When I returned to Jelly a few months later, I assured the team that WYLD was just a leafy green passion project on the side that wouldn't eat into my agency work. I think everyone was at least a little bit skeptical of this set-up, but nearly two years later, here we are. Jelly makes sense because I have WYLD on the side, and WYLD makes sense because it coexists alongside Jelly. They enjoy a symbiotic relationship within the walls of my heart.
After 15 years of largely screen-based work, the joy of tying on an apron and digging my hands into soil is incomparable. Heading to a greenhouse in my mucky boots to restock, the monotonous task of tagging new products, slipping into relative obscurity as a face behind the counter in one of many small stores on our busy Main Street, or the tedium of reorganizing the crystal cabinet after a 5-year-old with curious hands has been through the place… the physicality of it all just scratches a deep itch within me. So by Monday morning, with fresh dirt under my nails, I'm ready to dive headfirst back into emails and huddles and Zooms and the like.
People often ask how I have time to do it all. It's not that I have less time, even with "keeping a toddler alive" in the mix now—it's just that I'm using my downtime in a way that gives me great personal satisfaction and adds value to my life (and managing to binge the occasional TV series, too).
Often that "downtime" takes the form of sitting on the toilet and holding my phone during a pee break in the wee hours of the morning, and sure I'll sit there for 30 minutes at a time pouring blue light into my sleep-encrusted eyes because I've fallen down a new product rabbit hole. But that sleepy, half-conscious mindset has yielded some REAL hit items in the shop (as well as some questionable "slow burn" items… looking at you, "miniature felted cowboy hats for your houseplants.")
The shopfront is my creative outlet, from the color of the paint on the walls, to the products on the shelves, and the copy on the chalkboard sign outside—it's the pure and untethered output of my creative brain. In a sense, curating the shop helps me relate to my directors and artists better: they pour their hearts into a vision, then put that product out into the world, only to stand on the sidelines as others pass commentary on it—complementary or not. Not enough color for your liking? Try Home Depot's pot section. Overpriced? Not if you knew the work that goes in behind the scenes. Cluttered? Ugh… fine, I'll reconfigure the store layout so it feels more "shoppable."
It's so interesting to be privy to this point of view, and something that gives me a more rounded perspective in the way I work with our talent.
Jelly's support of me in this endeavor (going as far as suggesting gifting WYLD gift cards to some clients for the holidays this year), and the respect they have for my personal time and work/life balance shows real dedication to our B Corp mission, and makes me pretty damn proud.
So, if you're up in Cold Spring, N.Y., come say hello. And if it's you and me sitting on a Zoom call early, know that I'm always more than happy to do a virtual plant consult at the drop of a hat.