Mary Lee: Cofounder & President of Nonprofit for Women

Name: Mary Lee Caldwell

Age: 34

City: Tuscaloosa

Main Hustle: Higher Eduction Administration – Student Life Administrator at The University of Alabama

Side Hustle: President and Co-Founder of Lean On: Alabama, a non-profit designed to empower women in the state through intergenerational relationships.

How did you get started?: I started Lean On: Alabama because I was inspired by the women of our state. I saw how passionately so many of us cared about our communities, our families and friends, and our state. I cherish the relationships that I have formed in my life, and I wanted to create opportunities for women to connect with one another in meaningful and authentic ways.

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: Whenever I can 🙂 Mostly nights and weekends.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: Finding time; building and maintaining momentum.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?:

Seeing the power that comes from a connection or spark of inspiration. Knowing that the results of our work may not be felt immediately, but that they will come as we help others cultivate their own connections and inspirations.

Who is your greatest supporter?: My mother

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: The women who are involved with Alabama Girls State. This group of women represents everything I want to help others create with Lean On: Alabama.

We range in age from 18-80, but we truly care about one another, and we trust one another to be there in the highs and lows of life. We laugh more than we cry and believe that the best gifts (friendships) should be passed on to others.

Have you received recognition for your work?: I was named one of Alabama Media Group’s 30 Women Who Shape the State in 2017.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: For Lean On: Alabama to have a strong presence throughout the state, so that all women in Alabama can connect through a network that supports and encourages them and challenges them to be their best self. To promote our values of wisdom, hope, faith, and friendship, so that women will see and experience the importance of collaboration over competition.

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

Stay focused and don’t lose hope. To not be afraid to pivot, but never lose site of the big picture.

Check out Lean On: Alabama’s website, follow along on Facebook or Instagram, or reach out to Mary Lee via email to connect or collaborate!


Heaven: Founder of Nonprofit Community Art Space

Name: Heaven Starr Baize-Garcia

Age: 24

City: Austin, TX

Main Hustle: I am currently attending school online to finish my associates of science while I travel. Once I receive my associates, I will continue my education in hopes to become an engineer with focus on Architectural Design.

Side Hustle: I opened Unit C in February of 2017. I am also a conceptual artist from South Texas who experiments with many mediums including performance art, film, and photography. With Unit C, I hope to create a boundless space to inspire artists to push themselves to their full potential. Unit C is an art space dedicated to providing opportunities for local and international artists to collaborate and grow. With a multidisciplinary focus, Unit C will showcase a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, film, performance art, poetry readings, live music, and more through diverse arts programming and monthly events.

How did you get started?: I opened Unit C Studio & Gallery in February 2017. Originally, Unit C was going to be my own personal space, but I wanted to explore ways to open the space up to the community. With many art spaces closing in Austin, I feel that it is important to provide a space where all artists feel safe and can thrive.

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: We are working to improve Unit C everyday. We host drawing classes every Thursday from 8-10 pm. Our team is very communicative, so we are always looking for ways to incorporate and support the community. Not just within the arts, but we hope to support other small local businesses as well.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: A current challenge is not having enough volunteers. We love our volunteers and find them necessary to be able host more classes, such as writers groups, poetry slams, yoga sessions, therapeutic dance, and more. I want Unit C to be available for everyone and anyone. We need more volunteers who believe in Unit C and our vision.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: My biggest reward is seeing our community appreciate and utilize Unit C.

Who is your greatest supporter?: My greatest supporter is my business partner, Nora Rosenberg. I came very close to giving up my dream of Unit C last year, but Nora joined our team and inspired me to keep going. Nora is absolutely inspiring to me; she is an incredibly strong woman and so very driven. I am forever thankful for  and Unit C has benefitted exponentially from having her with us. I wouldn’t be able to do it without her.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: What inspires me the most is the people who have supported us. Our BYOMedium class attendees who keep coming back every week. Seeing the faces of artists when they’re showing in a gallery setting for the first time.

It gives me a warmth in my heart and soul to be able to provide for my community, and it’s what drives me to make Unit C better.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: I hope to expand Unit C Studio & Gallery in Austin into a larger space and work toward a more professional setting. I would like Unit C to not only be in Austin but explore other parts of Texas and the US. I hope to provide multiple locations in low-income areas to give all artists more opportunity and introduce them to a network of people who appreciate and support their art. I would also like to work toward being able to create/open a facility for children to be creative and explore different mediums.

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

Don’t let your life stand in the way of making your dreams a reality. You are in control of your future and, I promise you, anything is possible.

Check out Unit C’s website, follow along on Instagram and Facebook, or reach out to Heaven via email to connect or collaborate!

Photography by Chris Corona

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