The Side Hustle: Better Half Full

This week we spoke to Niobe Shaw, a primary school teacher who continues her creativity outside of the classroom with her greetings cards business 'Better Half Full.' Her cards spread warm thoughts, celebratory cheer and birthday wishes in a quirky way. "The glass is always better half full," so they say.

What's your day job?

I’m a year 2 teacher at a primary school. Everyday, I work with fun and creative children who are so full of ideas it’s hard to not feel a bit inspired!

What's your side hustle?

I run a business focusing on spreading happiness amongst those we love. Primarily, I create greetings cards, but I’m now starting to expand into mugs and prints too. They’re all items that people can buy to give to others to make them smile (or maybe to treat themselves)!

How long have you been running Better Half Full?

I began selling my cards at the end of 2016 to friends and family. After lots of support from them, I started selling cards last Christmas. I’ve gradually built up more of a base and now sell on Etsy and new startup MicroMrk, as well as in a few shops around the country.

What do you think is the biggest challenge when it comes to managing the finances for your business?

My biggest challenge financially is being patient. I have so many ideas of different products and new designs that I want to bring to life, but staying on top of my outgoings and waiting until I can realistically start producing these is important. Still, I can design them and I have a long list of my ideas which I hope I’ll be able to bring into my product range soon.

What is your favourite time to work on your Side Hustle?

The school holidays are a great time for me to spend some quality time designing, promoting etc. but I enjoy keeping on top of things in the evenings and at weekends too.

What processes does running your Side Hustle involve?

Firstly, following some inspiration, I’ll start doodling on my iPad. I create the individual pieces of work on there, then digitally manipulate these to fit my templates on my laptop. After I’ve built up enough new products, I order these from a printing company (further down the line, I’d love to print at home so I can offer customisation, but that will need to wait for now). Once they arrive I hand fold the cards and package up my products. It’s important to have good quality photos for social media and for my online shops and wholesale catalogue, and I currently take these myself too. Then, it’s time to upload these and create my listings, before promoting these on various platforms. So, it’s quite a long process from start to finish, but one I really enjoy every part of!

What's next for your side hustle? Are there any exciting new products to look out for?

This month, I’ve introduced two mugs to my range, and I am starting to create prints too. These are two lines that I’m excited to be expanding as we enter the new year, so watch this space!

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

In the summer, I travelled around Croatia for 2 weeks. It’s undoubtedly my favourite country I’ve visited – so lovely and relaxing! We went to several places, but the highlight was the incredible Plitvice Lakes National Park. The water was so clear and the colours were beautiful. I’d recommend it!

Name three things you love

  • Seeing an idea through – developing an idea, designing it and then my customers loving the finished product
  • Exploring new places, both in the UK and further afield
  • Cooking, baking, eating out… anything to do with food!