How I Accidentally Created My Own Side-Hustle

Although I have tried to keep my professional life separate from my blog, I guess it’s time to explain what I actually do for a living.

My professional background is both fashion retail management and digital marketing.

I started working for small contemporary boutiques, eventually moving up to a full-time management position at a corporate brand. Working in the fashion industry has always been my dream career path. I don’t feel the need to be an Anna Wintour, but a retail executive with the spirit of Grace Coddington-meets-Derek Blasberg would be my personal ideal.

On the side, I am a virtual assistant for digital media marketing professionals and entrepreneurs. My main objective is to help clients manage their own digital marketing client or to help themselves. Hiring an official internal part-time assistant can be expensive for small businesses, so a virtual assistant provides an affordable alternative.

The main trick to being a successful virtual assistant? Taking the time to understand your client’s needs in order to efficiently communicate, execute, and anticipate throughout the entire process.

Mia Lupo by Donna Cheung Photography
Photo Credit: Donna Cheung Photography

How I Got Started

I began my side hustle by accident.

It was during my junior year of college and I was commuting from Narragansett to Newport. One day, I walked into my favorite store in Narragansett, Crosswynds Traders, and the owner—who has known my family forever—asked what I knew about social media marketing for business.

I was taking courses in Business and Communications, so I had a growing knowledge base in the field. We decided to give a partnership a go—I would help the owner with social media posts in exchange for store credit.

I loved having the opportunity to creatively combine fashion and social media marketing, not to mention being one of the best-dressed girls on campus.

A few months later, I started going to Newport Interactive Marketers networking events in Newport. I live-tweeted one of the events and had gotten the attention of the founder. We met the following month for coffee and she hired me as a summer intern to help manage the event PR-marketing.

At this time, I had a part-time summer retail job and a part-time job at my university (both based in Newport) and the social media marketing gig at the boutique in Narragansett. I was saving for my short-term study abroad trip to Paris, France for the following January—I wasn’t going to fight another opportunity to grow my skill set and my bank account.

In January, I succeeded in saving for Paris and had an incredible trip that made strong ripples that would come to affect my future. In the end, it was worth juggling it all.

Mia Lupo by Donna Cheung Photography
Photo Credit: Donna Cheung Photography

Spoiler Alert: I’ve continued my side-hustle as a freelance social media consultant and virtual assistant ever since.

Fast forward to present day—I have several clients for my virtual assistant business alongside my full-time position in fashion retail management.

I made the decision to hone down being a virtual assistant for digital marketers who needed help managing their own clients vs. a freelance social media consultant who directly manages entrepreneurs because of the time and commitment.

Most of my clients have been with me from the start and I am proud to continue supporting their businesses, as well as connecting with new clients who share an interest in French culture and lifestyle.

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Why I Keep Going

While I was working the summer before my senior year of college, I thought I would be able to walk away from my side hustle after graduation and settle on having only *one* job…

Taking on more work and responsibilities alongside a normal day-job made me realize that I would never be satisfied doing only *one* thing.

I know that I have a habit of stretching myself too thin at times, but I love meeting the challenge. I’ve gotten better about preventing burnout and communicating with clients about my timeline.

Having the extra money was never the main incentive of my side-hustle. If anything, staying knowledgeable about my industry and building real connections with people were more meaningful motivators. It’s what still drives me today.

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Interestingly enough, my side-hustle as a virtual assistant has been a constant that has helped me through my personal and professional life since 2013—from Rhode Island to Connecticut to Paris and back.

At the end of the day, I love being involved with women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs who want to take their digital presence to the next level. Yes, I do teach my clients the ins and outs of social marketing, but I have learned so much from my clients’ expertise and success stories.

I may not have intended to launch a side-hustle, but it’s hard to imagine what it would be like if I didn’t take the chance on myself to pursue this opportunity.

Part-time hours. Full-time heart…and then some.

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Aomar Weiss

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How I Accidentally Created My Own Side-Hustle

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Social Media Addict | Francophile | Fashionista

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