Op-ed: The Best Side Hustles Are Driven by Passion

The time is right and tools are available to turn passion projects into primary income streams.

In 2023, side hustles are like a must-have trending accessory: it seems like everybody has one, or wants one, these days. The good news is that the field is not as crowded as it may seem on Instagram and Pinterest. In fact, there has never been a better time to have a side hustle. Take it from me, someone who has been “hustling” since she can remember.

43 Elizabeth Grove was a full-scope architectural and interior design project that took a1970s bungalow side split and converted it to a modern, expanded, 2,500-sq.-ft. side split with vast open concept interior spaces and a functional entertaining space. (Photos by Radell Media)

I’m a mom of three young boys, which is enough on most days. I also coach skating and teach an interior design class at my local college on top of my full-time job at a hospitality investment company. My side hustle is running the interior design side of 2LS Design Inc., a full service architectural and interior design firm that my husband, Cameron O’Neill, started and I jumped on board during my maternity leave in 2018.

Today, my side hustle has never felt more successful and more essential. I strongly believe that this success is because the best side hustles are driven by passion, mine being helping people create homes and spaces they love.

Plus, for many side hustlers today, they make it work because they must. In today’s fast-paced world, where financial challenges loom large, more and more Canadians like me are turning to side hustles to supplement their income and pursue their passions. I know I’m not alone in my hustle, and not just because I see it everywhere on social media. Findings from a recent GoDaddy survey prove side hustles are alive and well and have emerged as a vital source of additional income for many, particularly in the design industry. For myself, this path began as a passion project, a common starting point for over one-third of entrepreneurs venturing into the world of side hustles. The pursuit of one’s passion can be a powerful catalyst, leading to creative ideas and innovative business ventures.

By investing time and effort in their side hustle, designers not only achieve financial stability but also experience the fulfillment of creating something they truly love. Plus, the starting costs and time commitment are often feasible for many. The GoDaddy survey found that starting costs were under $1,000 overall, and the majority spend under 10 hours a week on their side hustle, leaving time for other life commitments and priorities.

The interior focuses on clean lines with a mod farmhouse flair, while remaining timeless with classic whites, neutrals, and natural materials.

Use your passion as your fuel

A good starting point for a side hustle is your passion. Interior design has long been a passion of my own, and I knew that it would be a good basis for a business and be the fuel I needed to push forward with my side hustle goals. I love interior design because I get to do a bit of everything. I’m an extremely outgoing and social person, but I also love sitting at my desk researching and designing.

It’s important to think about what you enjoy, what you’re good at, and how this can work toward a successful side hustle that will keep you inspired. We—particularly women—tend to underestimate ourselves when, in fact, we are more skilled and creative than we give ourselves credit for. I have seen so many entrepreneurs go farther with their passion than they ever thought they would.

The kitchen design intent was to make it appear as if the home was built around it; the millwork and drywall was all designed to sit completely flush and integrated. An oversized, contrasting island complements the clean built-in kitchen and the contrasting coffee/liquor bar creates a functional, useable extension of the kitchen perfect for entertaining.

Every side hustle needs a website

Just because a business is a “side hustle” doesn’t make it any less worthy of the building blocks of any business, side or not.

Key to the side hustle game today is online presence, and I don’t just mean Instagram and TikTok, which are of course valuable tools in the era of social media and e-commerce. But a good website is essential in its own unique ways: it is resistant to social media trends and fads and will remain core to good business even as the app of the moment changes.

A website may seem more daunting than your average click-and-go social media app, but website management today is easier than ever. Just five years ago, if you told me that I would be designing, launching, and managing a website I would have told you that you were mistaking me for someone more tech savvy.

I was initially intimidated by the thought of building a website for my side hustle. After all, I know interior design, not web design. But with a website builder, I feel like my tech-savvy alter ego. In fact, I recently launched architecture and design consultations through the 2LS Design website, and plan to launch an online storefront soon to sell interior staging, décor pieces and accessories to make putting final touches on your space more easily accessible.

The proof is in the stats: 11 per cent of side hustlers like me said they set their website up in a day while 13 per cent boasted that it took them less than four hours to launch their website from scratch, according to the GoDaddy survey.

The architectural and interior design team (Kat on interiors and Cameron on architecture) worked cohesively in this project to ensure the wow factor when you come in the space is just as impactful as the exterior strong angles of the modern home.

Turning the ‘side’ into the centre

For me, having a side hustle isn’t the end goal. Like most Canadian entrepreneurs, I hope to turn my side hustle into my full-time hustle. Indeed, more than 70 per cent of entrepreneurs surveyed have similar goals of the side becoming centre. In this way, it is a means to an end. As that end materializes and 2LS Design is no longer a side gig, I know that I will be grateful for the time that I committed to setting the side hustle up for success.

What I will be most grateful for is the trust that I put in myself, in knowing that I have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Remember: you have more skills and creativity than you think. Put yourself out there and you might surprise yourself with how far it’ll take you.

Kat Velez-O’Neill is the co-owner of 2LS Design, a full-service architectural and interior design firm based in Nobleton, Ontario.