I have always had side projects, for as long as I can remember. I’m a curious and restless person that likes to try new things and just make stuff. Sometimes I even make, before I think, but that’s another story…
I started my first clothing brand Sinaia in 2009. As a clothing startup I had to do almost everything myself. From branding, to sketching of the garments, to production, to marketing, to sales, to making the catalogues, to the full business side of the company. This means that I have a huge understanding of the whole spectrum of producing and driving a clothing brand. I had to learn along the way. As an employed clothing designer I have only worked with a very small niche, the designing of the products, choosing materials and trims and commenting on the prototypes after arrival. With my experience from having my own brand I can of course understand the process better and I know exactly how it works. But even with the extra experience and knowledge the companies I have worked for have been very negative about me having a “side project”.
So why are side projects such a taboo at work places. I’ve seen many employment contracts where they actually are prohibited, including my own… They are more important than companies can imagine and should be encouraged, embraced, shared and supported. Just look at Google for example where people have work time set aside for working on side projects. You get happier employees. And happy employees work better. Some of the projects may even help the company, and let’s not talk about the extra experience someone gets from “practicing” different skills.
So why side projects? Here are the reasons:
YOU GET TO DECIDE THE PROJECT
-It’s completely your own decision and it’s gonna get done on your terms.
-You don’t have any pressure that this thing needs to bring any income. Your “day” job covers that. If it does- great, but let it be a free experimentation with no pressure.
YOU HAVE FULL RESPONSIBILITY ON THE OUTCOME
-Good or bad. No compromises. When you’re done, the reward is multiplied by 1000. The feeling that it’s your responsibility that this thing gets finished, is incredible.
YOU SET YOUR OWN DEADLINES
-Or no deadlines at all. It’s your choice. However the outcome, you can’t really fail or make any mistakes. There is only doing and learning. Whatever happens along the way belongs to the learning.
YOU GET TO EXPERIMENT AND HAVE FUN
-You get to obsess over something without any pressure.
-To spend time on something you feel deeply passionate about is incredibly gratifying.
If you don’t already have a side project — start one. You might say: Oh but how do I know what I like blah blah blah… Stop thinking and start doing! Your heart will lead the way. Just start one, within the topic that interests you. And if you lose interest after a while, stop and move on to the next thing. At least you have tried and you have learned things along the way, no matter how it goes. That’s the point of side projects! The lessons learned!
I’d like to hear about your side projects. What are they? Feel free to comment on this one!