The Side Hustle Project: Week Four Report

Image from page 54 of "Blueprint reading; a practical manual of instruction in blueprint reading through the analysis of typical plates with reference to mechanical drawing conventions and methods, the laws of projection, etc" (1919)

What is this Side Hustle Project?
Go back to the article what explains things
And then the Week Two Update, which is a bit self-pitying
And then the much niftier Week Three Update
…and now we’re here.

Oh, anaemia. I can’t wait until you are gone and the pattern of “work one hour, nap two hours” is dead.

(On the upside the weather has cooled just enough to ensure I am not attempting to nap in the mouth of the inferno, so there’s that.)

What Got Did This Week

Slightly more shopping!

I went and purchased side-clip buckles, no-roll elastic, an adorable chunky zip, and two different types of potential strapping. Total spend: $14.40

Very boring admin!

My credit card application needed an interim statement ($3 to get it printed, ugh) and I also picked up the bank cards for the accounts I opened.


  1. I drew out potential bag sizes on brown paper, mostly playing around with size and curviness.
  2. The two most likely options got drawn onto old bedsheet and pinned on my hip to see if they were okay. They were.
  3. I used a couple of scraps to make the pockets.
  4. Sewed it very quickly, pinned on the straps, and tah-dah! Prototypes!
  5. Took sweaty photos.
  6. Used GIMP to put the photos together and add some explicatory text.
  7. Posted in a few places asking for feedback.
  8. Including here. ‘Cos why not?

which baghip or sling

Tell me, darlings!

– Which size would you prefer?
– What situation would you use it for?
– Hip or sling?
– How much would you be happy to pay?
– Any other feedback?

And now I am pooped and full of triumph because it is all done and it’s not even midday yet.

The Tally

Bags sold: 0
Time spent: 8 hours (Still on track!)
Profit/loss: -$89.68
Fear that no-one will ever buy one of these bags and what the fuck am I doing: 62.9%

Come and leave your aesthetic thoughts in the comments!

photo by:

The Side Hustle Project: Week Three Report

This is not my fabric stash. Not yet.
This is not my fabric stash. Not yet.

Great news! I have anaemia!

I am hella excited about this because a) there is finally an explanation for the heart palpitations and compulsory naptimes and dry mouth and b) all of those things should go away in the next few weeks if I keep taking my iron.

Perhaps I shall also have more energy to do other, non-side-hustle things? We shall see.

What Got Did This Week

Three important things.


I met with the lovely lasses who shall take over the sewing duties for the bags and hammered out most of the arrangement and pricing. If we have guesstimated correctly, this shall make my per-unit sewing cost work out to around $5 per bag, which sounds very reasonable.

Also, by the bye, they are taking a stall at the next Supanova convention in April, and are happy to make some space for my bags if I wanna.



So I said, “Yes, of course, that will be fun.” Because I am smart.


I attended an Etsy workshop on product photography and walked away with a squillion new product refinements and new offering ideas and so much enthusiasm I may have been floating slightly.

I already knew that making a business that sells concrete, tangible things would be different (and in some ways a sweet blessing) after selling ideas and advice and mouth sounds for the last umpteen years. And it is! It’s delightful to not have to explain, to be able to point at it and say, “That. I make that.”

But I also forgot the delight in physical community. I love my online one, I do, but there’s something… extra in good old meatspace. An energy, I guess. It was nourishing, a soul-meal with no weird rubbery bits to get caught in the teeth.

Also, I got to be very smart, and you know how I groove on that.


The ubiquituous big-box fabric store had a 30% off all fabric sale this weekend, and I nobbled enough fabric for all my prototyping plus an extra 4 metres of a delightful green-with-white-dogs print that would normally be $20ish a metre and was marked down to $4/metre.

(The YOINK noise I made when I found it was audible from at least three aisles away.)

The purchases totaled $38.58. Pretty good for seven metres of quality material plus a zipper!

As a karmic reward, I also found a legit licensed William Morris print which I am more excited about than you can imagine. Mostly, his work is CRAZY SUPER EXPENSIVE and I was expecting I wouldn’t be able to afford any for years.

Again, the lesson: go forth, do things, and you shall meet Manu Bennett abundance will come to you.

The Tally

Bags sold: 0
Time spent: 6 hours (I spent a bit extra this week.)
Profit/loss: -$72.58
Readiness to start prototyping: 87%
Podcasts launched: 1
Fear that I may be overdoing it already, despite promises: Moderate

Want to squee with me about William Morris? To the comments!

photo by:

The Side Hustle Project: Week Two Report


Is there anything more depressing than an almost immediate failure?

Okay, so I didn’t technically have one of those. But I feel like I sorta-kinda did.

What I Did Get Done

1. I spent 45 min or so writing the first draft of the shop’s About page. It’s good enough to go.

2. I spent another 45 min in vital minutia, such as getting printouts of bank statements for my business credit card application from my regular bank, driving over to the new one, yadda yadda.

So why do I feel so shitty?

I deeply want to launch into an explanation of the sucktacularness of the last week, including (as it did) a quite strong reaction to the drugs the dentist injected into my gum, no internet all week, and an ECG, and…

Wait. What I actually want to launch into is a justification.

A justification for what? I spent nearly 2 hours; I have a functional About page text plus a few more bureaucratic hurdles have been jumped.

What the fuck am I feeling defensive about?

So I only got the About page written today, the last day of my week. So what?

So life intervened and I didn’t get to do any of the fun creative things I’ve been anticipating. So what?

So I don’t have a viable prototype to show yet. So what?

So most of the work is not very interesting to describe to you. So what?

Ah. All hail the project limitations.

Many weeks I will not have anything fascinating to show.

Many weeks I will be able to describe my activities in one quite short paragraph.

Many weeks it will feel like my progress is so slow as to be drifting gently backwards with the tectonic plates.

Right. This is how it is going to be, is meant to be, is lucky to be.

I can’t sprint past all my fears and insights and baggage. I have to saunter by, head up, as they hiss obscenities from behind a chain-link fence.

So I’d like to introduce you to My Paralysing Fear of Discipline.

(We’ll call her Paradis for short.)

She has doomed many a hopeful project of mine in years past. Paradis wields a cudgel of NOPE and brings it out when it comes time to build new habits or process “because I don’t want to be, like, boring“.

She is desperate for novelty, charm, and anything that makes a good story. She detests routine, exercise, and discipline because she thinks they are going to get us judged as a dull grey monobody; then we will have no friends and we will instantly die alone in a gutter holding a bottle of methylated spirits and no one will even attend the funeral oh woe.

Paradis means well, but she regularly fucks me over.

She better get comfy. We’re in for a long ride.

The Tally

Bags sold: 0
Time spent: 3.5 hours
Profit/loss: -$34
Demons introduced: 1
Demons yet to meet: God, so many

Want to play meet-and-greet with my issues? Come on over to the comments!

photo by:

The Side Hustle Project: Week One Report And Long-Ass Explanation

Previously, on Cash and Joy…

So as previously mentioned, for a long time I had no visible signs of life. I lay suspended above a bear trap in a safety net made of grudging government benefits, and I healed.

And then I cautiously got back into a casual, low-stress, close-to-home, 15-hour-a-week job answering phones in a call centre. (I am aware that some of you would choose death over this, but it suits me.) I sewed things for myself. I visited friends again. And I volunteered at a geek convention.

The Universe is unambiguously clear that action = momentum = fascinating and hard-to-predict results. Example: all of the above lead to me accidentally creating a tiny business.

Short version of the story:

1. I went to party with friends, and made FB buddies with a few new peeps I met.

2. One mentions on their feed that now is the time to sign up as a volunteer at Supanova.

3. I say, “Why not?” and sign up, with no expectations other than maybe meeting a few actors and creators that I love the work of.

4. I realise that I don’t have a bag that will hold my phone and keys and cash and the venue map while I do this.

5. I dig around on Etsy and Pinterest, looking for hip bags, ‘cos bum bags are UGLY LIKE BURNING. I fail to find what I am looking for.

catherine and the bag putting on a show
This is me at Supanova. I know the photo is blurry, and doesn’t show the bag at all well, but it’s quite obvious I am rocking out “Rusty Cage” by Soundgarden.

6. I combine this strap and this pocket and this fabric choice to design and sew my own. I am super proud of how professional and adorable it looks.

7. I wear it to Supanova. I have a long and excellent conversation with Manu Bennett on the way back from a panel where he appreciates what I say very much and calls me “Darlin” and touches me on the back it was the best ohmigawwwwd

8. At least six different people ask me where I got that amazing hip bag, so cute and practical, oh you made it? can you make me one? I would pay you!

9. I think, “That would be fun!”

10. I accidentally made a business?


Insert the Act 2 Drama

I am still not fully well. (The full-time hours required during training proved that to me, egad.)

I have to accept the reality that my energy is limited, and if I over-commit I will likely break.

So if I want to make a little wee side-hustle, I have to do it slowly.

*gnashing of teeth* But… I suck at slowly! I specialise in the sprint-and-fall-over method of getting things done! *wailing, etc*

Stupid fucking growth opportunities. Grr.

Thus: The Side Hustle Project.

I am going to build a little wee business sewing adorable hip bags and selling them on Etsy, and I am going to do it in just two hours a week.

Is that enough time? I think it is! Honestly, it’s astonishing what you can get done in that time if you’re deliberate about it.

Will it be super hard to break the patterns of years? Fuck yes, it will!

Will I tell you all about it? Yep! I’m not counting these articles as part of my time budget.

Why are you writing about this? ‘Cos I think it will be stunningly useful to many of you. I already accidentally inspired someone else to start their own Side Hustle Project. (If you wanna join in, that’s FUCKING AWESOME. Tell me about it, please.)

What are you naming this little business? It is called Labcoat & Lollipop.

With all that backstory sorted, it’s time to tell you how Week One went!

OMG, doing it right?!?

Let me be frank: Cash and Joy’s finances have always been kind of a shemozzle.

It’s the upside and the downside of being a one-woman band, isn’t it? You get to learn how to do it all yourself; you… have to learn to do all of it yourself. Proper cashflow management process always fell behind copywriting and learning web design and making new things and… pretty much everything else, really. I was deeply into the ostrich phase of my relationship with money back then, wanted as little to do with that filthy lucre as possible.

So I ran everything out of my personal account; kept decent records in Excel that I updated far too rarely; panicked when tax time came.

This time I going to start my little wee side hustle on the right footing, AND I’m going to use the chance to shore up the wobbly-ass walls of this biz, too. Because I actually love money nowadays, and want to treat it right. (ALLLL NIIIIIIIGHT LOOOOOOOOONG.)

Step One: Talk to the Professionals

I made an appointment with a local accountant I had heard good things about. Free initial consult? FUCK YES BONUS, I was braced for paying for this.

25 minutes with Dean The Accountant, a decent fella who still hasn’t quite figured out how to shake hands with women. I hammered Dean with questions, mostly starting with, “I was thinking that I should…”

Thanks to online research, I had a mental picture of how I ought to set the new biz up, and apparently I was right. (Woo!)

I don’t know how much you want to know about the accounting setup I’m going with, ‘cos a lot of it is kinda specific to both my biz and the Australian tax system, but here’s the big picture version:


Explanations time!

Both bizzes shall use the same $500-limit credit card to cover expenses and provide an overdraft function. I have deliberately kept this limit small to avoid the temptation to go bonkers with fabric purchases. (I could have a separate credit function for each, but there is no benefit to doing it that way – I won’t have any difficulty figuring out which purchase is for which biz.)

Income from Cash and Joy shall go into the C&J transaction account. Same thing for Labcoat & Lollipop. From there, funds will be transferred across to pay the expenses.

Then, whatever is left over (sweet sweet profit!) shall be sent to two places. 25% will go into the 2.25% interest-bearing savings account in readiness for tax time. For my current income level, this will be more than enough to pay my taxes.

Australian peeps: I don’t make enough money from the biz to worry about registering for GST yet, and both businesses are being run as a sole trader under my ABN. Thus, I don’t have to deal with Business Activity Statements or quarterly returns. I just do a complicated personal tax return at the end of June like everyone else.

The other 75% will go to my personal account, where I shall promptly pile it up on the bed and roll around on it.

I will continue using my spreadsheet system to track expenses and profit/loss. (If you want me to show you more about that, tell me in the comments and I shall.) Once I get to more than 75-ish transactions a month, or I find updating the spreadsheet to be a monumental pain in the ass, I shall upgrade to Xero or MYOB or another accounting system.

It’s a nice, straightforward business set-up, multiplied by two. But there’s one thing I need to take care of before I can go to the bank to open the accounts, and that is…

Registering the new business name

In Australia, you can’t open a business bank account until you’ve registered the business name with ASIC. This took me about 15 minutes of online form-filling-in-ness and $34 for one year. (It’s cheaper for multiple years, but no. Call me cynical, but I didn’t want to commit this early.)

I think I could have gotten by with having the account in my sole trader name and using a “trading as”, but I wanted that nice feeling of Doing It Properly, and $34 is quite a reasonable cost for that feeling.

Setting up the bank accounts

I spent about an hour at the Bendigo Bank, filling in forms, applying for the credit card, and opening most of these accounts. (As mentioned, the L&L one will have to wait until the Official Business Name Registration arrives, but that will be easy-peasy now all the paperwork is done.)

I chose the Bendigo Bank for two reasons:

  1. No monthly account fees.
  2. I have worked in their call centre for about six months, and I trust them ‘cos they are actually super awesome and I suspect I wouldn’t say that about other banks after working for them.

It will take a week-ish to find out about the credit card, but I feel reasonably confident about it. (Well, my anxiety doesn’t, natch. But logically I should be okay.)

Whew! So Official!

So the tally at the end of the first week is this:

Bags sold: 0
Time spent: 2 hours
Profit/loss: -$34
Pride: 89%

I feel pretty darn good about this beginning. I wish I’d done this sooner for Cash and Joy, it would have reduced so much stress.

Thoughts? Questions? Want to join in? Share in the comments, my darlingface!