The following is an interview I did with acclaimed jewelry designer, Erin Flynn, that I thought would be worth sharing on the important topic of side hustle.
Q Can you define what success looks like for you?
Are you looking to satiate a personal passion of yours as a creative outlet? Are you starting with the hopes of turning your hobby into a profitable little business? Do you see yourself as someday becoming a household name or brand — or all of these things? Regardless, understanding what motivates you helps you ask the right questions, make better decisions, and keep you on track to achieving your goal.
Q How do you get a few wins under your belt for the side hustle?
Unless you are able to bend the space-time continuum, there will always only be 24 hours in the day you have to work with. Begin by carving out a little time each week and set modest goals. Fixing your sights on the endgame can be inspiring, but it can often lead to feeling overwhelmed by all the steps it takes to get there. Map out what you think you can achieve each week or month, and feel free to course-correct along the way. Importantly, when you reach a milestone, take time to acknowledge and enjoy the sense of accomplishment. Over time, a series of small wins start to snowball into big ones.
Q Is there a way to figure out risk tolerance?
Getting any new gig off the ground is always going to require time, or money — and probably both. And for most of us, there is already too little of each to begin with. So make an honest assessment of the level of commitment you are prepared to make. Will you have to forego another interest or activity in your life to make this happen? If you need upfront capital, what will your funding source be — personal savings, friends and family, Kickstarter? Are you prepared to make necessary, but sometimes difficult, assessments and adjustments along the way without losing enthusiasm? Revisiting your risk parameters and tolerance levels will keep you level-headed about your passion and give you greater peace of mind in your pursuit.
Q Does hard work factor into the hustle?
There will undoubtedly be times when the hobby that always brought you joy may start to feel a little a bit like work — or even a lot like work. That’s okay. There will be good days, bad days, and everything in between. Even something that is ‘a labor of love’ is still a labor. But ultimately, it will mean so much more to you if you give it the gift of grit along the way. Like most things in life, hang in there, and you won’t regret it.
Q How can you be realistic?
There will be obstacles you didn’t plan for, opportunities that didn’t work out, and days where you just don’t have it in you. But if you think of your side hustle more as an escape, something to dream about or hope for, even as your own little secret at first as you navigate the vicissitudes of daily life, it can really serve as a sustaining force. Without the benefit of a playbook for side hustles, or life itself, we’re all just winging it after all. Take it in stride, and take in all the goodness the whole experience can offer you.
But, if there is just one piece of advice I would give to anyone thinking of giving it a go — along the lines of the old adage “it’s not the opportunities that we take in life that give us the most regret, but rather, the ones we don’t” — I would say, “start with a yes” and see where that takes you. The difference between the myriad ‘would-be’ entrepreneurs out there, and the ones living their dream, is the conviction to start — to at least to try. So, with that, maybe set aside just 15 minutes tomorrow as a way to begin your own journey, and start with a yes.
Designer Erin Flynn launched her eponymous brand, Erin Flynn Fine Jewelry, in 2021. Erin’s collections are home to ethically sourced jewelry that is timeless, yet playful. Her elegant and unique pieces are meant to be personal classics that will become part of the wearer’s story and inspire a smile every time they’re worn. In addition to the three distinct lines — Megawatt, Champagne Bubbles and Defining Lines– her bespoke portion of offerings brings Erin’s initial love for the process full circle. She shares the intensely personal nature of designing her own wedding jewelry with her clients by drawing out what they really want — stylistically, symbolically, and practically — and giving them staple pieces for their jewelry wardrobe.
Whether designing custom jewelry, reimagining heirloom pieces, or bringing to life designs in her collections that have purpose open to the interpretation of the wearer, Erin designs with an approach that lays bare the emotional connection to jewelry through which she finds joy. All her work is inspired by an ethos of celebrating the moments and milestones that are both mundane and unconventional rather than prescribed by an arbitrary life playbook. Everyone’s story should be celebrated, every day.
Erin learned to make jewelry in her 20s from her artistic mother. Her first meaningful project was handcrafting earrings for her bridesmaids. The sense of connection, meaning and joy the work sparked made a mark, and the dream of starting her own line was firmly planted, though she knew attaining that dream would involve a journey. Erin began by diving into the corporate life she prepared and planned for, and it served her well, featuring many success stories. Every decision she made during that time, however, only further clarified her hunch that following her gut was forever the best strategy. It led her jump into new worlds, from leading a mergers and acquisitions team in travel media to the investment banking industry, and once leaving it all to travel the globe.
Eventually, if not inevitably, Erin reached a point where she was ready to take the biggest risk of all — to follow her passion as a jewelry designer — and left her corporate life to work for Tiffany & Co. and Cartier to learn the industry from the ground up. With these experiences and the confidence to turn a lifelong hobby into a viable business, following her mantra always start with yes, Erin worked to create a line of everyday luxury pieces meant to be worn, cherished, and passed down as markers of a life lived well. To this day, Erin makes decisions with her heart first and has prioritized experiences and passions over paths of preconceived hallmarks. She intends for her pieces to carry that spirit, marking the passage of time and celebrating personal moments for her collectors in a way that only their own lives can.
Erin thrives on continuing to perfect her trade and regularly attends industry-leading gem and stone shows to source her materials and keep abreast of industry developments and market trends. Her enduring inspiration is the satisfaction of being able to do what she loves for a living while making a difference in people’s lives and happiness. Erin currently lives with her two young sons in San Francisco.