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  • Heather Simmons

Quit Your Day Job | It's Better with a Buddy


There are rare occurrences in life where an opportunity unfolds before you with no downsides, opportunity costs, or margin for regret. There it sits: a shiny, perfect chance to do something you love, make money, and have a blast at the same time. I've only experienced this twice in my life, but I know how to recognize it when I see it... and I immediately scream a wholehearted YES! before it disappears. This is how I felt when one of my best friends asked me to go into business with her back in the fall of 2017.

Everything seamlessly came together. She's a marketing and social media pro who's been freelancing for over ten years, with a keen eye for design and solid web design skills. I need an outlet to exercise my left-brain analytical skills. We saw a hole in the market, where businesses often hire a consultant for short-term and long-term financial planning and a marketing firm for PR and advertising, yet the two firms don't develop a concerted goal together. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, yet small businesses are paying both for work that may or may not be synergistic. Enter Silverbeet Creative Co., a sassy little firm based out of an Airstream in Florence, AL that works to bridge this gap for our clients.

Laura and I have known one another for so long that we don't have to waste time making qualifying statements. We know exactly where the other is coming from, so there's no need for small talk or 'splaining of any kind. We can often finish one another's sentences, which makes our workflow faster than most. She clearly defines what marketing goals a business wants to achieve in a calendar year, and then I create a cost-benefit and break-even analysis to make sure those goals are feasible and measurable. Industry roundups and competitor analysis makes me feel like I'm back in grad school, and works a part of my brain that I don't often get to flex in creative endeavors.

We also have tremendous respect for one another's work. Laura built tallulah faire's very first website back in 2011, when you needed to know code to actually develop a site, and there weren't easy plug-and-play options like there are today. I'm telling you, she's got mad skills. I have my MBA and worked for over 13 years in retail management, so she's often reached out to me over the years for business advice and planning. It's precisely because we've reaped the benefits of one another's expertise in our own ventures that we value each other's work and knowledge base.

And the best part: it's so much fun. I adore getting to talk to my best friend multiple times a day about meetings, goals, and developing a plan that gives our clients the best strategy for their budget. We laugh a lot. We goof off a lot. And we're supporting our families while on a flexible schedule. We both have so many different creative plans up our sleeves, so it's satisfying to join forces and tackle one together.

I'm sharing this with you not to get your business - though you should totally check us out here - but to speak to that part of you that says if you're not pursuing your dream full-time then you're a failure. If your passion isn't earning six figures a year, then it's not paying off. If you can't live off of your side hustle, then you'll obviously be stuck at your day job for eternity.

That's just bologna.

Tallulah has been my side hustle for eight years. There was a two-year stint in the beginning where I was able to commit to tallulah full-time, but then the recession hit and no one was buying anything and an investor with whom I was working went belly-up. Did I fold up shop? Nope. I just went back to a salaried job that paid the bills, then came home and worked on my little business into the wee hours of the morning. Laura has three kids, and you bet her work took a backseat for a little bit while she raised tiny humans. Does that mean motherhood ruined her chances of creating a successful firm? Nope. She just built websites after her kids went to bed at night. We continued to refine our craft, even when it wasn't bringing home the bacon.

I don't know why so many meat phrases are making it into this essay, but stay with me.

There are unexpected silver linings that come with any setback, and one of my favorites is the set of skills you develop unknowingly while waiting for things to work out. I worked seven years longer in a field that I only planned to be in through undergrad and graduate school. I now have well over ten years of industry-specific experience, which makes me an expert in my field. Everything I've learned on a macro level in a large corporation about merchandising, consumer behavior, customer service, budgeting, styling, etc., I can use on a micro level with tallulah. I've also parlayed that knowledge into the successful consulting branch of Silverbeet. Having children spurred Laura's interest in health and medicine, and she worked to earn her nursing degree while in the weeds of raising small kids. Her understanding of holistic healing and prevention colors her outlook on life, and plays a key role in her dream to create a well-rounded and beneficial plan for our clients. She sees them as people who need help achieving their dreams, and not as a dollar sign.

We are only recently so lucky as to be able to work full-time on multiple projects we love. In fact, we both quit our day jobs within a week of one another, and for totally unrelated reasons (Silverbeet did not yet exist). It's actually been the culmination of our skills we developed while waiting for our dreams to come true that is now providing the financial cushion for us to make those dreams come true. I'm able to make art and write and create all I want, because I have business acumen. Laura is able to execute her dream of a birth center for midwifery services in North Alabama because she's a pro in social media management. Hard work and responsibility does eventually pay off, and often provides you with a set of tools to shape your dreams into a clearer, sharper, more elevated version than what you originally conceived. A J-O-B fuels the fire that refines your D-R-E-A-M.

Hang in there, you side hustlers and multi-job freelancers and nine-to-fivers. This work is paying off, and providing you with more than just a paycheck. You're honing skills you don't even know you need yet. And if for some reason in the future Laura and I must head back to the daily grind that is a day job, you better believe we're going to make the most of it. I just may need a bigger tool belt.


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