Following their passion….while paying the bills

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times: Do what you love and the money will follow.

If it were only so simple, we’d all be millionaires!

Unfortunately, real life isn’t so straight forward. You can’t pay your bills with enthusiasm, or fill your plate with passion. But recently, I met two individuals who are pursuing their business dreams without giving up their day jobs.

As the owners of Harris Flower Farm & Pastured Pork, Janis and Mark Harris are literally watching their business grow one flower and heritage piglet at a time.

Janis with the first bunch of tulips

Janis with the first tulips of 2016.

I drove out to meet Janis on a miserable snowy morning in April. Janis greeted me with a warm smile. She had recently picked her first spring tulips, grown in a hoop-house greenhouse on her family farm.

Janis explained that her parents still run one of the first organic farms in our area and that she inherited her love of flowers from her grandmother.

But instead of following her parents into farming full-time, Janis trained as an optometrist. She still works in the profession – when she isn’t looking after her three small children or tending the thousands of flowers she now sells every season.

Last year Janis hired part-time help to get her through wedding season; this summer her sister is moving back to the area to lend a hand.

Mark also works “off the farm” but finds time to help out with the flower crop and to look after a small group of pigs who feast on organic leftovers before being turned into tasty sausages and bacon available at local markets and directly from the farm.

You can read my story about Janis and Mark here.

Emilio Barbero is another entrepreneur who is dreaming big in his spare time.

Emilio

Emilio has a passion for geometric design.

By day, Barbero works as the creative director at a London interior design firm. In his off hours, he is the founder of Marbleknot Design Studio, where he lets his imagination run wild as a surface pattern designer.

Despite being a relative newcomer to the field, Barbero recently made his second trip to Surtex – North America’s largest art licensing show. If Barbero’s dreams come true, you’ll soon see his bold, geometric patterns on everything from gift wrap to coffee mugs. In the meantime, he’s producing a small range of consumer goods – including colourful hand made bow ties – all available from his online store.

You can read my story about Emilio here.

So what’s the moral of this blog?

You don’t have to give up your dreams when adult responsibilities hit. You just have to have enough drive to pursue them in your off-hours. And maybe one day you’ll be able to turn your passion into your full-time career.

What passions are you pursuing? 

 

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Career advice from one to watch

Sometimes you meet people and you just know they are going places. Such was the case when I first ran into Andrew Schiestel several years back. I can’t remember the occasion, but his can-do attitude and positive energy made a lasting impression, and I knew he’d be someone to watch.

Andrew Schiestel, tbk Creative

Andrew’s positive energy is infectious and makes a lasting impression.

In 2008, when he and partners Misha Allard and Melissa McInerney launched their first business venture Tagged By Kindness – a gift card school fundraising project that tracks acts of kindness online –  I pitched a story to Business London magazine. The editor didn’t bite.

A few years went by and I noticed that Tagged By Kindness had quietly morphed into a web development and marketing firm called tbk Creative. And all of a sudden Andrew seemed to be everywhere, speaking about harnessing the power of social media to help firms grow their brand, and do good in the process.

Andrew Schiestel keynote speaker

Andrew is a popular speaker on the power of social media and branding.

When tbk Creative won a national award for a Facebook social media campaign I knew it was time to try another pitch – and by now I had discovered that Andrew was a graduate of Fanshawe College’s Police Foundations program.

Fanshawe College Alumni News accepted my query, and that’s how I ended up spending a few hours last summer asking Andrew about his winding career path and unconventional business approach.

You can read the full story here on page 22, but there are a few thoughts that have stuck with me since our interview:

If you’re young and still trying to ‘find your calling’ – don’t panic.
Very few people in their 40’s are actually doing the job they thought they’d be doing in their 20’s. (I am a perfect example.) As long as you keep moving in the direction you think you want to head, life has a way of working out if you’re willing to put in the effort.

You don’t necessarily need a degree to launch a successful career.
Andrew has no ‘official’ qualifications as a marketer, communicator, or web developer. But he’s smart, a real people-person, full of curiosity, and has a solid work ethic. And he surrounds himself with colleagues who are just as dedicated to excellence as he is.

Sometimes starting at the top is the fastest way to get to the top.
Andrew made a strategic decision to go after London’s top companies and institutions right from the beginning. He wasn’t deterred by some initial setbacks, and within six months tbk Creative was working with a handful of nationally-recognized brands. (And of course, once the first contracts were landed he made sure to deliver great work.)

Swallow your fear and just forge ahead.
Andrew gave me one of my all-time favourite quotes:

“I think fear is the great paralyser of people’s dreams coming true. I would say fear is normal. It’s in all of us, including myself each and every day. The goal should be to look your fear in the eyes, get comfortable with that feeling, and act anyways.”

It’s taken me a long time to embrace my professional fear, and it’s something I wish I’d learned how to do earlier. It’s great advice, and absolutely necessary for anyone hoping for a freelance career.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

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