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What’s your day job?

I trained in graphic design and have been a book designer for over a decade and a half — primarily coffee table books and craft step-by-step titles, as well as covers for fiction and non-fiction. I work freelance, so I work from home, which makes it easy to handle my side hustle too.

What’s your side hustle?

Hand painted silk, and it’s an absolute pleasure making the accessories. I make silk scarves, ties and jewellery. Everything is hand painted —not printed — and made by me at my home studio in Finchley, North London.

Silk painted scarf in progress

What skills have you taken from your day job and applied to your side hustle?

I design all my own promotional materials – brochures, flyers, leaflets and imagery – that’s how my main job complements my side hustle.

How did you get into creating silk accessories?

After being diagnosed with a chronic illness, I wanted to make the most of life. While looking around for something that I could do to satisfy my own creativity, I happened upon first fabric painting, then silk painting. I was hooked the moment the first drop of dye touched the silk fabric, and that’s how it all began. As usual, it was friends and family who said I should start making it into a business, and I started an Etsy shop in August 2014. Now I have my own website and do markets regularly.

Green silk painted scarfBlue silk painted scarfTurquoise silk painted scarf

What’s the biggest problem you encounter when managing money for your business?

Doing my taxes! I consider myself rather mathematically-challenged so it’s always a question of either outsourcing or begging my husband to sort out the mess.

What inspires your work?

Colour. It’s my biggest inspiration: being Indian, I grew up with it everywhere, and everything I do involves colour – my work features repetitive geometric and floral patterns and they are only enhanced by the hues I use. Of course, there are other things that inspire me, but this is the driving factor. I notice it everywhere and in everything.

Model wearing silk scarf around wrist

What processes does running your side hustle involved?

I am a one-woman business and make all my accessories myself — from sourcing my materials and making product, to photographing the work to put online and running my Etsy shop and own website. Plus social media, marketing and doing craft markets and all sorts of business management, you can imagine it’s a lot of work! I’ve recently found someone to make ties for me, so that might be another task to be added to already long list — supplier management.

How much time do you spend on your side hustle and how do you manage the time?

I think it’s easier for me than many people because I work from home as a freelancer, even for my main job. I am master of my own time, and frequently can juggle both together. For example, I may start the day by answering emails for both jobs, then paint a scarf, and leave it to dry while I do some book work on the computer, and then go back and forth like that. I’d say the ratio is about 60:40, with the larger part being the side hustle, because it’s more physical and time-intensive than my main job which involves being on the computer only.

Selection of silk scarves laid out

Where’s the best place you’ve ever been to?

I keep finding new places and categorising them as ‘the best place ever’, but I would say the most fascinating one yet was a private resort in Palawan in the Philippines, where the water was so clear you could see the reef from above.

Tell us three things you love.

  • Colour
  • Food
  • Books
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