Side Hustle Heroine: Rebecca, Singer & Songwriter

Growing up one of five children in coastal Alabama, Rebecca Czarka had to find her voice early, and that voice was born in a house filled with music. With a guitarist for a father, she was introduced at a young age to all of the greats: Elton John, the Beatles, the Eagles, and Carole King. She and her sisters used to make up songs together, the lyrics and melody directed by Rebecca. This led to piano lessons where she struggled with theory and an intimidating teacher but quickly found her footing memorizing songs and learning the mathematics of notes. One assignment gave her the freedom to write her own piece, and after that she knew she wanted to be a songwriter.

Her first live performance of a song she wrote was in a talent show in high school.

“This was the moment everything changed for me—a switch was flipped on inside of me, and I knew it was something I couldn’t turn off. The moment I looked out into the crowd and saw the faces staring back at me—really tuned in, engaged, frozen—I was addicted. I fell in love with that transaction, the exchange between music and listener that transcends regular conversation. I realized music was a channel of communication that can impact people, and I wanted to be part of that.”

After high school, Rebecca followed her family roots back to Louisiana and attended Louisiana State University to earn a degree in communications. Following graduation and encouragement from a friend to pursue music, Rebecca packed up her life to take her chances in Nashville, Tennessee—no job and no friends, just a keyboard and a car.

“It was stupidity, really. Sometimes I look back and marvel at my blind audacity, my fearless guts. But really I just had peace about the decision, which I saw as a divine calling.”

While there were many bruises along the way, the community Rebecca found in Nashville provided her with the camaraderie and support she needed to grow thick skin and a respectful appreciation for the peers honing her craft.

“I was submerged into an ocean of extreme talent. I got a lot of negative feedback and some constructive criticism. My voice grew stronger because of it.”

Although a career in something as competitive and cutthroat as the music industry can be a lonely one, she doesn’t have to take the stage alone, due to an instrument she believes chose her.

“I’m comfortable behind a piano—it creates a nice, long barrier between me and the listener. Occasionally I’ll stand and sing at a friend’s show, but I prefer to sit and hide behind the keys. It’s a familiar, comfort-thing, I think. And to deliver a gripping performance, you have to be comfortable.”

Rebecca also brings her past along with her wherever she goes, adding a level of familiarity to her lyrics that conjure fond memories of innocent joy and simple happiness.

“Everything about my childhood has bled into my music. All artists create their art through a personal lens, and mine is made up of all these incredible, Southern flavors: New Orleans jazz, Southern Creole comfort food, a healthy dose of warm weather, salt water, and beautiful people.”

While an echo of Southern spirituality is also undeniable in her music, Rebecca doesn’t see her piano as a pulpit.

“I happen to be a born-and-raised Catholic, and my faith and surrender to God has been the one source of peace and strength when everything else fails. I know a lot of people question Truth, but I don’t see my music as a means to preach. It’s an honest expression of the struggles, questions, and profound love I’ve experienced in my own spiritual journey.”

This honest display of emotion doesn’t always come so easy on the stage.

“Performing your own songs can be an outpouring of your heart and a bearing of your soul. There’s definitely a level of vulnerability involved, but it’s also a hard-earned skill. Sometimes I find myself lost to the emotions in a performance, but other times I am an actress on a stage performing an emotion. The latter isn’t a disservice to the song, but rather another way to honor it. It’s like a relationship: sometimes you feel the love strongly, other times not. But you choose to love anyway.”

A new love entered Rebecca’s life last year in the form of her and her husband’s baby girl, Edith.

“A friend said to me recently that having a baby is one of those life changes that draws a line down the middle of your life; nothing is the same after that. It changes the way I look at my career, it changes the way I look at the world—for the better. My devotion to my husband and baby are the most important, most creative things I do. Everything else comes after that.”

This prioritization of love is already contributing to Rebecca’s music, inspiring her latest song, “Mother’s Love.”

“I was about eight months pregnant when I wrote it, and I climbed behind a piano, bump and all, to capture the moment as I was living it so that one day I could show my baby, ‘That’s you! I wrote that when I was pregnant with you!'”

Her beloved fans receive a similar type of devotion. She even partnered with them recently to raise $35,000 in funds to create a duet of dual-concept EPs, two new singles, and an upcoming LP.

“My experience in crowd-funding has changed the way I approach a body of work. It wouldn’t be possible for Indies to make albums without fans these days. Even with the monetary support of a label, crowd-funding is a way to more intimately connect with fans and invite them inside your process! I am exceedingly grateful to all of those who have gotten down in the ditch with me and propelled me toward my goals. After all, I do music not just for my own enjoyment, but also to serve others. So why not have them along for the ride? My fans have meant everything to me because they have given my gift a purpose. Without ears, there would be no music.”

As fans, we’re so grateful to provide ears for this artist to continue making an impact in the music industry.

Rebecca in Ten

  1. You May Have Heard Her on TV: Her single “Break” appeared on the Fox TV series Bones in the “The Cold in the Case” episode. Also, her Valentine’s Day single, “What Love Looks Like,” was played on the 2015 season finale of Pretty Little Liars.
  2. If not music: Interior Design or Home Stylist
  3. Love-ly Fact: She began writing a song for her husband the night they met.
  4. Love-lier Fact: She performed the full song for him at their wedding.
  5. Writer’s Block Remedy: She learns a new cover or reads a book (poetry or fiction).
  6. Unpack Her Bag: She always has a rhyming dictionary with her.
  7. Social Media Secret: She keeps a separate account where she follows only beautiful things for inspiration.
  8. Role Models: Norah Jones, Carole King, Eva Cassidy. But also: “A lot of my role models are my friends. The ones I see up close and who I know are authentic both in their music and outside.”
  9. Currently Working On: “A project called Clementine that I’m working on with writer, pianist, and artist, Nicky Holland. It’s a collection of songs we’ve written and produced together that sound like…the feeling of the sun going down on a warm summer night, while you’re sipping brown liquor on the rocks. Think Randy Newman meets Dusty Springfield.”
  10. She Forgot To Include: That high school talent show she mentioned? I was there, and she forgot to add that she won. And then performed it again at her graduation ceremony to a standing ovation. (Sorry, Rebecca, I had to.)

Erin: Beauty Rep & Substitute Teacher

Name: Erin Murphy

Age: 31

City: Greenville, South Carolina

Main Hustle: Mama to an almost two year old, Mae!

I also work from home providing marketing work to a local insurance agent as well as to Read GA Family Law (a company started by my dad to provide up-to-date cases to family law attorneys in Georgia).

Side Hustle: I sell Lipsense products and substitute at Mae’s school from time to time!

Do you have a website, store, or social media presence?: Interested in purchasing Lipsense products? DM me on Instagram, eringmurphy. I’d love for you to try it – it’s fantastic!

How did you get started?: Honestly. I think it was a God thing. I went back to work full time after I had Mae and after being there for a few months, I knew I needed a change. At the same time, the opportunities with both the insurance agent and Read GA Family Law came up and have given me the opportunity to have the flexibility I needed but also work and contribute. I started selling Lipsense recently because I fell in love with their products. As a mama on the go, I needed something that would stay on all day and this product does. It’s amazing!

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: All from home! I schedule my day around Mae and when she’s in school, so I work really anytime I have free time…usually during nap!

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: See above – I work from home! While the benefits most definitely outweigh the challenges, it can be difficult to get done what I need to get done while taking care of Mae. She’s an active toddler for sure!

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: The ability to provide for my family, have flexibility during the day, spend quality time with Mae, but also contribute and do what I love to do. It truly has been such a blessing!

Who is your greatest supporter?: Most definitely my husband, Hunter.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: No doubt my mom. She’s the biggest hustler I know—I don’t think she sits down until she goes to bed at night, and I definitely got that from her.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: To empower other mamas to do the same and do what they love! It certainly took a leap of faith to leave my secure, full-time job to go part-time and from home with multiple side hustles, but it has been the best decision for me and for our family. I knew I wasn’t meant to stay at home full-time, nor could we do that financially, but I also knew I wanted to be able to take Mae to the zoo or the doctor without having to ask permission, so I made that happen. I want all mamas to fulfill their passion, whether that be in an office from 9-5, home all day with their precious little ones, or part-time!

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

You can do it! I was super nervous to work while having a baby at home, but it can be done! The best advice: schedule your time and stick to it. Get up early, make use of the time they are at school or nap…it can be done!

Follow Erin on Instagram for more information on Lipsense, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate!

Free Your Feed From The Happy Snatchers

You are the company you keep.

We all heard this, or something like it, screamed by our moms or dads when we ran out the door on a Friday night in high school, a few last words of wisdom to remind us that whoever we chose to spend our time with was who we would become.

Today (Thank God Instagram was not around when I was in high school) this same mantra can be applied to social media. Just as you are the company you keep in your personal life, you are also the people you surround yourself with on social media. If you spend your time scrolling through a sea of negativity,  your brain replicates that and becomes a place of negativity.

Virginia Beard, who recently appeared on Side Hustle, gave some great advice when describing her approach to social media and how you should essentially protect yourself online from those people whose accounts steal your happiness and sap your spirit:

“Unfollow people on social media who make you feel like you aren’t doing enough or aren’t cool enough or aren’t fill-in-the-blank enough. You’re awesome and your work matters, so don’t let Instagram make you think differently about your work.”

I looked through my own social media feed to see who I rely on to provide a much-needed defense against the intrusion of what I call “happy snatchers,” the people or things online that just don’t make me feel better about myself.

Here are eleven accounts whose online presence I seek out daily for affirmation, beauty, joy, inspiration, knowledge, and a healthy dose of inappropriate humor (which sometimes is needed above all else).

  1. Humans of New York– By now you have most likely heard of and follow this Instagram account, but I’m not sure there is a better representation of real life than through the lens of this guy’s camera. His posts force you to look up and look into the eyes of the strangers whose lives are swirling around you, providing a unique opportunity to share in the joy, pain, sorrow, happiness, uncertainty, grief, and hope that is the human experience.
  2. Ashley Longshore– An artist in New Orleans who is here to break the mold, Ashley Longshore may offend some with her crude humor and outrageous videos but to me she showcases so much pure authenticity that you can’t help but love her. Her art is as wild, bold, bright, and fabulous as she is, and we both happen to be born-and-bred Alabama girls with an Ole Miss past (I loved it; she hated it) and a New Orleans present, so I like to think we are cut from the same-ish cloth.
  3. Bourgeois Bohemianism– No idea when, where, or how I got addicted to this Tumblr account, but the owner dishes out the most beautiful images, words, songs, and art that always seem to hold hands with my heart. Going to her page is like visiting an old friend who just gets me. The layout of her page inspired the layout for Side Hustle, so in more ways than one she has been my muse.
  4. When to Jump– This book inspired a lot of the momentum and spirit behind Side Hustle (do me a solid and buy it at your local bookstore instead of Amazon), and their Instagram account is a great reminder of all of the incredible stories that flow from people who took a risk to jump from solid stability to shaky uncertainty all in the name of passion.
  5. The Player’s Tribune– As a former athlete and sports aficionado, this platform speaks to my sixteen-year-old, professional athlete-aspiring (haha V, you funny and too short) self and provides a unique glimpse into the hearts and minds of these incredibly talented people and tells their stories the way they should be told: by the athletes themselves. On a scale of 1 to Kleenex box, tissues are required. Click here for the one I have not been able to get out of my mind lately, which makes sense if you read my last post.
  6. Stone Fox Bride– Another Instagram account that mysteriously became part of my life a few years ago, the Stone Fox Bride is what contemporary wedding dreams are made of. I stand in awe of founder and creative director, Molly Rosenguy, who will literally grab your soul from your chest and make it come alive with the raw emotion that drives this platform way above average bridal material to must-read advice on life.
  7. The Fat Jewish– One of the original low-brow humor accounts I was introduced to on Instagram, the Fat Jewish is still one of my favorites for a cheap laugh. If we’re friends, I have probably tagged you in these posts on Instagram hundreds of times, and I am still ROTFL about it. Here is my favorite one to date.
  8. The Skimm– I do not like the news, never have and most likely never will. But the Skimm has changed the news for me. They make it relatable, they make it funny, they make it understandable, and most impressively, they make it feminine. I can’t decide if I consider the ladies behind the Skimm to be my good friends or my idols, and I think that’s a good thing.
  9. Southern Living– I feel like this is a little (okay, a lot) cliche for a girl from the South, but the photos and stories they share are of so many places that are close to my heart. The rush of happy memories when I see Charleston, South Carolina, Fairhope, Alabama, or Oxford, Mississippi is like riding an endorphin wave.
  10. Poets & Writers– I’ve had this magazine delivered in the mail for years—it’s always one of the first things I remember to take care of when I change addresses. Their Instagram account highlights certain passages from the magazine that are especially moving, but the best part is the recordings of authors reading excerpts from their books. There is something so surreal about hearing an author read their own words aloud—the intonation, the rhythm, the pace, all as they were intended to be by the person who created them.
  11. Mommas Gone City– I started following this account when owner Jessica Shyba’s son developed an impossibly cute napping routine with their family rescue dog. Since then she has had two more baby girls, and Theo the rescue dog has continued to be the real-life Nanna from Peter Pan that we all loved and adored. I also could not respect this woman more for the way she is raising her five children to love, respect, and fight for their fellow human beings. Well done, momma.

While these are just a few of the accounts I admire, I also draw endless inspiration from those featured on this site as well. I hope Side Hustle will always remain a constant source of inspiration, encouragement, and community for those who come across it, as well as a reliable window for those seeking a little sunshine on the Internet. And if it fails at either, I hope we can work together to change that.

The next time you pick up your phone or your computer to hop into the world of social media, choose to surround yourself with positivity, joy, humor, beauty, and support. Ditch the judgement, ego, greed, jealousy, and silly comparisons. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Motivation Monday

I realized later that all sorts of folks want to tell you that you cannot do something. For me that is even more incentive to prove them wrong.Mollie Jenkins, Ceramics Artist

 

Andrea: Graphic Designer, Cake Designer

Name: Andrea Gervacio

Age: 29

City: Summerville, South Carolina

Main Hustle: Tenant Services Manager at Tanger Outlets Charleston—basically I make sure all of our retailers are following the rules (like a landlord) but also coordinate marketing events and promotions to help drive traffic to our center for our retailers! It’s a lot to juggle, but I LOVE it!

Side Hustle: I am the owner and sole designer of Whipped and Kerned, a freelance cake and graphic design business. I have designed and developed brands for many local businesses/organizations and created deliciously designed cakes for many occasions. My desire to make people happy through food and design is the root of this business.

All designs, edible or not, are 100% made from scratch and always designed with the best ingredients: creativity, bold imagination, and passion!

How did you get started?: Art and design have always been a part of my life growing up. From a young age, I always knew I wanted to create things, which is why I went to the Art Institute of Charleston for my BA in Graphic Design, so the graphic design portion of Whipped & Kerned was just part of me from the get-go.

Now the cake side…I was serving tables at my boyfriend’s family restuaurant while in college and one of the cook’s and server’s birthdays was coming up—birthdays are a HUGE deal for me—so I decided that instead of picking up a cake from the store, I’d bake them something (it was a vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting and fresh fruit—one of my favorites) and try out this fondant stuff. It was SO hard that first time, but I really loved the creative aspect.

Then BOOM. Next thing I knew I was designing cakes and brand identities.

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?:

My Main Hustle is 40% of my life, my family and friends are 60% of my life, and 20% of my life goes to Whipped & Kerned—yep, that math doesn’t add up, and that’s because even when I’m on E from my week, I chug a double-shot espresso or energy drink to muster up the energy to roll out kick-ass designs for my clients because I LOVE it and I know it means a lot to them.

As for where, I bake in my home kitchen, and I sketch/brainstorm and actually create designs just about anywhere I can bring a sketchpad/laptop 🙂

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: When you unveil that final product and you see their face light up—if I could just bottle that up, ugh man!

A lot of times these consultations are a lot of wild ideas and rambling, laughs, and “Does that make sense?” YES. I totally get it. I get that you really want to show everyone why this person means so much to you, that you want to show how proud you are of your graduate, or whatever milestone you’ve got going on in cake-form. And YES I completely get how much it means to finally have a design created just for you, so you can finally brag about your Side/Main Hustle.

Celebrating all these things and being a part of it—THAT’S why I do this. THAT is what makes this so rewarding.

Who is your greatest supporter?: My parents, best friends, cousins, aunts, uncles… Really EVERYONE in my life.

But mostly my boyfriend, Nick. He truly deserves an award for being the absolute best. When my wireless mouse dies and needs new batteries, I need more sugar or vanilla extract, I need to bounce ideas off of someone, I need someone to hold the backdrop for my photo, or I just need more caffeine, he’s always ready to lend a helping hand. And he’s always there to remind me WHY I’m doing this when I just feel like giving up. Nick is the REAL MVP ❤

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

When you feel like you just can’t anymore, remember why you started.

Check out Andrea’s website to see some of her sweet designs, or email her to connect or collaborate!

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