Megan: Children’s Clothing Boutique Owner

Name: Megan Hines

Age: 30

City: Mobile, Alabama

Main Hustle: Registered ER Nurse

Side Hustle: Co-owner of a children’s clothing company, Sweet Magnolia Smocks.

How did you get started?: I was blessed with a sweet little boy named Sawyer and then another little boy named Charlie, so like any other Southern mama I decided I loved smocked and appliqué clothing. I never could find reasonably priced items in local boutiques, so I began shopping on various Facebook preorder groups. While there prices were fair, they still lacked something.

As I lay in bed one night, I thought,  ‘If these other ladies can start up their own groups, so can I.'”

So I began my mission, recruited a fellow nursing/mama friend, Jessica Sheldon, to be my business partner, did lots of research, and we opened Sweet Magnolia Smocks!

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: All the time….no I really try hard to do it when I’m not working at the hospital or with my kids, so I stay up late a lot! My husband just finished up some remodeling/updating to an apartment above our garage, which is where my office is now.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: Making sure that my customers have a good quality, uniquely designed, and reasonably priced outfit. I think another challenge is making sure I balance my time equally between my job as a nurse and most importantly my jobs as a MOM.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: I get to design clothes (something I have always had a passion for), meet so many new people, and do something I truly enjoy!

Who is your greatest supporter?: I’m going to say my husband, without him I would lose my mind!! He is always helping and finds ways to do things better (advertising, website stuff, manufacturers). He is definitely a big part of the success of my business.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: I would have to say my family—can’t pick any one person but they all have always encouraged me to reach for the stars! They have always told me I could do anything as long as I put my mind to it.

Have you received recognition for your work? If so, please toot your horn below: Right now we are in the running for a Nappie Award in our hometown! There is a local lifestyle magazine in Mobile that does something called the Nappie Awards every year.

The categories are widespread, but we are in the top six for Best Kids Clothing Store, and we have only been around for one year. I SAY THAT’S A BIG ACCOMPLISHMENT considering all the local stores!

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: One day for it to be a storefront and to be able to support my family with it!

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

Don’t stop doing what you’re doing; you have to fail to succeed!

Check out Megan’s website, follow along on Instagram, join the Sweet Magnolia Smocks Facebook group, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate!

Featured Image by Susanna Womack Photography

Side Hustle Heroine: Caitlin, Personal Stylist Boutique Owner

Occasionally our passions run so deep that their roots reach back before we were even born. For personal stylist boutique owner, Caitlin Costello, her passion originated with her mother, Maura, who attended The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and introduced her daughter to the world of fashion at a very young age, perhaps even with her very first outfit.

“I haven’t changed much since I was kid—I have always been into fashion. The ultimate girly-girl, I was always dressing up all of my dolls and playing dress-up in my mother and grandmother’s closets. I realized I truly loved fashion when I would watch old movies with my family (especially Roman Holiday). The styling portion came later in college when my friends would ask me to shop for or style them—it clicked that this could be a career path.”

Following graduation from college at the University of Alabama, the Texas native followed her mother’s footsteps to New York City, where she immediately began a career in fashion, working in both design and sales for luxury and contemporary brands including Emilio Pucci, Tibi, and Lela Rose.

After years of styling her friends and family on the side, she saw an opportunity to fill a void in the market and began developing a business plan for a personal styling business. In 2017 she launched Affiner, a personal styling service designed to help men and women refine their wardrobes. Her first client was a friend of a friend, and from there her business began to grow.

“I started by envisioning our clientele as women aging from 25-65 but quickly realized there was an opportunity for men as well, and that age really didn’t need to play a major role.”

Starting off with just two employees, Caitlin was forced to confront the less attractive side of owning her own business.

“I think a lot of entrepreneurs don’t realize all of the roles they will take on when starting a business. Not only did I have to continue the development and growth of Affiner, but I suddenly had to become an accountant, a human resource specialist, and a legal expert. It was overwhelming to say the least, but at the same time, such a wonderful learning experience.”

While wearing many hats, Caitlin grew her business quickly as clientele expanded and now Affiner resides in a communal office space where Caitlin and her staff are able to bounce ideas off each other and work creatively side by side.

“As a growing start-up, every day is different, which I personally love. I would say I don’t have a day-to-schedule, but typically I go into the office, answer emails, meet with my team, and then tackle the never-ending to-do list!”

The name she chose for her business streamlines unpredictable days into a steady reminder of Caitlin’s personal beliefs about universal style.

“I chose Affiner—French for refine—because I believe everyone has their own style. Someone’s personal style doesn’t necessarily have to follow trends, but I believe there is a way to refine every style, as well as every wardrobe and closet.”

And in a place like New York City, style is overflowing in the streets, providing Caitlin and her team with infinite ideas, colors, and muses. But this surplus of fashion hasn’t overtaken Caitlin’s own personal style.

“When I get dressed, I want to look in my closet and see multiple outfit options available with the pieces I own. I have found that clean-cut, classic pieces work best for this method. I can mix and match items with ease, and because they are more minimalistic, these pieces tend to stand the test of time. New Yorkers wear a lot of black, so I think that has become a staple in my wardrobe. However, I dress for me, not for my location.”

Caitlin and her team try to incorporate this sense of genuine style when dressing their clients as well.

“I think everyone has a core personal style, but it can always change with current trends and time. What we aim to do is refine and define our client’s wardrobe, while staying true to their authentic style.”

The key to this process lies in forming a relationship with clients that allows the staff at Affiner to develop a wardrobe that speaks to their clients’ true self.

“Through our site, we have a questionnaire to help identify a person’s style without really knowing them, which helps our team tremendously. However, to truly understand a person’s style, you have to connect with them on a personal level. After a client completes our questionnaire, a stylist connects with them one on one to further explore what they are looking to obtain from this service.”

For Caitlin, this client-stylist relationship is the foundation on which her business was built.

“For stylists it’s all about the customer’s experience. Being able to use styling to make a client look and feel his or her best ultimately influenced my decision to become a stylist. My biggest reward is the instant gratification my team and I get to see from our clients. I love to see people confident, comfortable, and happy with what they are wearing—it makes me love what I do!”

Caitlin in Ten

  1. Hometown: Dallas, Texas
  2. Favorite Color: “I will always buy something if it is offered in blue, However I would say I wear the color black most frequently.”
  3. Favorite Season: Spring. “I love the lightweight materials and the pop of colors that can be introduced!”
  4. Favorite Occasion to Style: Everyday life. “Special occasion dressing is exciting, but seeing people in their day-to-day element is my favorite.”
  5. Favorite Brands: Proenza Schouler, Theory, Vince, L’Agence, and Brunello Cucinelli
  6. Style Icons: Grace Kelly, CZ.Guest, and James Dean
  7. Hobbies: Hip hop and zumba classes
  8. Currently Learning: Calligraphy
  9. When she’s creatively blocked: “I will call my best friends and say, ‘Let’s meet for a glass of wine!'”
  10. Define Style: “Style to me means expressing yourself without saying anything.”

For more on Affiner and Caitlin’s personal styling business, check out her website. To stay up to date, follow Affiner on Instagram and Facebook, or reach out to Caitlin via email to connect or collaborate.

Hannah & Halie: Social Media Boutique

Name: Hannah Duffy & Halie Moore

Age: 28 & 30

City: Natchitoches, Louisiana

Email Address:hannahgduffy18@gmail.com

Main Hustle: Behavior Therapy(Hannah), Medical Sales (Halie)

Side Hustle: August Grey, a social media based “boutique”

How did you get started?: We met through a mutual friend on a girls trip to Orange Beach, Alabama, and immediately clicked! Halie had been toying with the idea of a social media based boutique for a while, and so we decided to go in together! Combined we have close to ten years of retail experience.

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: We work out of Hannah’s home! The dining room is now the office. We get together two days a week; otherwise we are on Facetime constantly.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: This is a startup, so there are quite a few challenges! Will women like what we pick? Competition is fierce! Trying to fit all body types without having the “brick and mortar” storefront. And then the obvious ones: money, business licenses, and time!!

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: We feel passionate about bringing women quality pieces that make them feel empowered and confident! When we get a good review or positive feedback, we know that we have succeeded. Not to mention this has been a dream of both of ours for years, and we feel so blessed to be able to live that out. We have started a business together and gained a lifelong friendship in a few short weeks.

Who is your greatest supporter?: Our husbands, 100% . Not only have they been supportive of our dream, they have helped fund, cheer us on, and listen to our ideas along the way!

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: What inspires us the most would be all of the women out there who walk into a store and feel defeated immediately. “It’s too small, it’s too trendy, it’s too low cut, it’s too young, it’s too old, too bold, or too boring!” Because we are those women as well. We are not size 0. We cannot wear backless, ripped, cropped clothing.

We want to bring classic pieces with modern updates so that every woman can reach in her closet and leave the house feeling comfortable in her confidence, which is a feeling that we think every woman deserves.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: To become women’s “go-to” source for classic but modern apparel that not only fits your body but also fits your personality, inspiring you to be your best self.

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

Be honest. Especially when working as a team! In order for both parties to be happy, you have to stay on a forward-moving path to allow your business to grow and flourish.

Have a partner who complements you. Halie is more business-savvy and organized, while Hannah has a more diverse network and is more savvy socially, so there is balance!

Check out August Grey on their website, follow them on Facebook, or take advantage of their VIP Facebook shopping experience. Stay up to date by following August Grey on Instagram, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate!

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Brie: Owner of Children’s Clothing Line

Name: Brie Hooper

Age: 34

City: Mobile, Alabama

Main Hustle: Mom of 3, (7mo, 2.5, & 5)

Side Hustle: Owner/Operator of Mustard & Ketchup Kids, a kid-friendly children’s clothing line offering tees, polos, hats, & more.

How did you get started?: Several years ago I was looking for a cute and comfy alternative to my son’s dressy, smocked clothes. Something that he could just wear anytime, whether it be on the playground or to a birthday party. Something cute and kid-friendly. Not too bold, or with inappropriate graphics for his age.

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: The majority of my work comes when my little ones are napping or after they are all asleep. I am a night owl.
I am also able to spend a few hours a week at our distribution office.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: The biggest challenge for me as the sole owner/operator is managing family and work.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: Meeting customers, store owners, seeing kids in our gear.

I love that I started a small business and have continued while raising my family. I feel like there are so many women out there who are multitalented and can do so much but just have not made that leap.

Who is your greatest supporter?: My husband and my parents are my biggest supporters. Both have given me great advice on how to run a small business.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: My three children and all children are my greatest inspiration. As a former first grade teacher, I have always loved kids and being a part of their lives. Running MKK allows me to provide children with a fun outfit that represents something they can relate to.

Have you received recognition for your work?: I have not won any big awards or been featured on CNN (ha).

It is not me who should be recognized. It’s all of us. All of the hardworking women out there who are making a difference. Keep on keeping on!

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: I would eventually like to expand our line, but for now I will continue offering the best toddler and youth apparel possible.

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

You can do anything you set your mind to! Don’t have doubts, believe in yourself, and go for it! You might just find the perfect opportunity waiting for you! Otherwise you may always wonder what if…

Check out Mustard & Ketchup Kids online, follow along on Facebook and Instagram, or reach out to Brie via email to connect or collaborate!

Professional photos by Frances Sadler Photography

Molly: Apparel & Textile Designer, Owner of Mimi and Muff

Name: Molly Lloyd

Age: 29

City: Atlanta

Side Hustle: Mimi and Muff

How did you get started?: I started Mimi and Muff as a partnership with my sister 5 years ago; I fully took over Mimi and Muff last year when my sister decided to follow her passion in interior design.

We had always wanted to find a way to own a creative company together, and we have both always loved beach wear and beach accessories, maybe just a little too much!

I went to school for Apparel & Textile Design, while Sara went to school for Fabric Design—it was a perfect match for creating the resort wear that we had always wanted!

After years of dreaming, we pulled our resources together and figured it out, which definitely included some trial and error!

When/where do you work?: I work from home, but my phone and apps make it very easy to work on the go! Weekends are definitely a must with my production team. (Made in America!) I work hours outside of my full-time job in the mornings and nights.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: Networking and getting your name out there is the hardest for me. I would love to be able to have more trunk shows and pop up shops throughout the year, but I have to work around my 9-5. I’ve learned clients are more inclined to go to a trunk show after work rather than on the weekend.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: The final product; that something I imagined has come to life and seeing the growth that Mimi and Muff has each season.

Who is your greatest supporter?: My parents. My mom is a very talented artist and interior designer. Sometimes she gets more excited about Mimi and Muff prints than me. She is always “doodling” new prints for me; she did come up with the best seller: BBC Print! My dad is the one that pushed me to start Mimi and Muff when I was at a job I hated. Thank goodness I have him for business and financial advice!

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: Obviously traveling and trips by the water help a lot, but anyone who knows me can tell you that I have an unhealthy obsession with exaggerated earrings—I honestly get a lot of inspiration from jewelry designers by what colors and textures they are creating with. Makes it easy to match my earrings to my cover up at the beach! 🙂

Have you received recognition for your work?: Jezebel, Modern Luxury, Bulldawg Illustrated, Style Blueprint, Selling Sisters, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and multiple bloggers’ “Summer Must Haves.”

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: I would love for Mimi and Muff to grow large enough to support me as an entrepreneur who can work from home with my kids one day.

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

There is a lot of trial and error & ups and downs; I know there is a lot more to come, but it is so worth it when you succeed!

Check out Molly’s website, Mimi and Muff, or reach out to her via email to connect or collaborate!

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