On 18th July, Jade Tomlin joined us in the YCN Library to talk side hustling, disruptive branding and creative strategy.
As Creative Director at Tribal Worldwide, and with previous roles at BBH and digital boutique Hugo & Cat, Jade Tomlin has over ten years of creative industry experience working across a range of lifestyle brand clients. CreativeAdventur.es is Jade's side hustle: a journal and workshop series for modern founders and go-getters, founded with the aim of empowering emerging creatives.
Jade was listed as one of Campaign's 'Ones to Watch' in 2009, selected for the Cannes Lion ‘See It Be It’ programme in 2016, and named among Creative Equals & Campaign’s '30 Future Female Leaders' in 2017. She is also a proud D&AD New Blood Judge and D&AD Shift Programme Speaker, and regularly writes, speaks and consults on creativity, brand and human evolution in a connected world.
Last night Jade joined us in the YCN Library, where she shared her work and approach, and offered learnings on the challenges and opportunities in setting up a side hustle.
Here's what we learned.
Jade’s side hustle is underpinned by her extensive creative advertising experience; she came into the industry “at a time of change”, in 2008 – as the digital revolution was beginning to peak. A few years in, she was creating content for global, corporate brands, trying to create a sense of brand affinity by reconciling household logos with values, creativity and authenticity. She showed us three small-budget, people-centric brand films created for the likes of Sony, Starbucks and Volkswagen, which were made to “not feel like ads for those big brands.” “A smaller budget forces you to be more creative,” she pointed out.
Identify a gap
“In 2015, I realised that the advertising business model was broken.” A rejection of overly “traditional” strategy that “wasn’t working” led Jade to ask herself: “what could I share with smaller brands? How could I give the value of ten years’ experience to small businesses?” This was the start of CreativeAdventur.es. She started by scheduling a series of workshops, at first one-to-one and later, groups, around her 9-5 job, running sessions at Soho House and WeWork spaces. The workload sounds daunting – “a side hustle is an asset you build on the side of work.”
Establish your vision
Jade explained that the only way to successfully side hustle is to feel genuine passion for your work. This starts before you even have a clear idea of your vision, and is the key to longevity: “once you figure out what you want to do, everything just starts spiralling.” Her passion project moved into the world of print, when she “very naively” created the CreativeAdventur.es journal, with almost no experience in that medium. “I wanted to share the stories I was hearing.” The first issue of the journal – written, curated, produced and published entirely by Jade – took almost a year to complete, presenting an array of obstacles with which she was completely unfamiliar and forcing her to rely on her business acumen and determination.
Be a “Slashie”
Jade spoke about the changing trends in business and the future face of work, suggesting that people are increasingly open to the “slashie” phenomenon: the increasing number of people who are no longer defined by their day job and whose job titles feature a slash. In contrast to the stereotypical slashes of waitress/actress and bartender/writer, these are people who are “starting to display proudly their side hustle,” driven as much by passion and transferable skills as by salary. To give us a taste of what her workshops entail, Jade shared with us some of her top tips for side-hustlers.
Know what you want
Fail to prepare and prepare to fail – the cliché is overused for a reason. Jade recommends spending “a lot of time at the beginning thinking” about what it is you want to achieve, how you might do that, why you want to do it and what you want to stand for. “Reinvention is fine,” but if you want to “stand a chance at longevity,” it’s important to nail down the basics early on.
“In the UK we’re a bit nervous talking about money,” said Jade. Times are changing and so too will wealth distribution: “creative entrepreneurship is really powerful at the moment.” It’s essential to be realistic about your finances, and get used to being resourceful. Jade has found that “value exchange” has worked in her favour, when sourcing writers for the second issue of the CreativeAdventur.es journal she found that they too were side-hustling – writing on the side of their day jobs: “it’s a win-win situation.”
This is “probably the hardest thing” for a side-hustler to achieve, when all your free time is consumed by your second job, so meticulous forward planning is crucial. Jade uses a Bullet Journal to “manage time better and plan for the long term” – “it’s a systematic way of working.” This means seizing opportunities to travel abroad, schedule valuable meetings or simply taking a precious few hours to focus on whatever it is you’re working on.
Make authentic partnerships
This is all about the “value exchange” Jade described in relation to keeping down costs. She told us how, when entering into the world of indie publishing, she suddenly saw “all these publications I’ve always admired” as potential competitors: “are these my rivals now?” However, she’s learned that skill swapping, collaboration and “building local loyalty” are stronger strategies, more conducive to longevity. She used the example of a photographer and coffee-lover who struck a deal with a newly opened coffee shop: once a week, in exchange for photography that they could use for social media, the photographer was entitled to free coffee. This reflects a general change in business trends – working together and “sharing economy” is the new model followed by creative startups: collaboration is the Holy Grail, as “people are chasing community over competition.”
In the information age of fake news and data privacy scandals, even big brands are increasingly turning to physical imprints, producing their own publications as a way to capture the readership and inspire the trust and confidence of their customers. Jade described to us how, with no publishing know-how, she looked to her favourite magazines for inspiration, and taught herself via online resources: “the internet enables you to learn faster than ever.”
Jade recommends establishing some form of vision statement, something “that will drive you to get up in the morning.” Chances are, if you have the idea and the passion, you have “the hustler mentality” that Jade says is needed for “coming back from a knockback”: “don’t worry about making mistakes. Part of being a hustler is getting things done.” Her own “hustler mentality” is something that has “grown since I worked out my passion.”
Reconciling a side hustle with your day job
If you’re like Jade, your side hustle might be an extension of your existing job, which allows for skills transference and can act as a positive influence – both ways. In this case, your project might be built into the “personal development” time that many companies offer. If your side hustle is completely unrelated to your job, it can be harder, especially to learn new skills in the deep end, but “anything is possible if you’re passionate about it." She suggests “talking to your boss and taking them on the journey with you,” where possible.
Protect and nurture your passion
Jade’s final word of advice was something she learned not long into the CreativeAdventur.es journey: “no one will care about your side hustle more than you. Give it the attention it deserves.” As she puts it, people will be excited at first, but it’s down to you to keep things moving forward during the slower, less glamorous, problematic stages.
Location:72 Rivington St,
London, EC2A 3AY,
Start:18th July, 2018 at 6:30pm
End:18th July, 2018 at 8:00pm