Ashley: Graphic Designer, Co-Owner of a Personalized Gifts Company

Name: Ashley Gohlke

Age: 31

City: San Antonio, Texas

Main Hustle: Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay AND Full-Time Toddler Mom

Side Hustle: Graphic Designer / Co-Owner of Lavaca Loca Designs (My husband’s “side hustle” that makes personalized gifts—everything from powder coated tumblers to laser engraved cutting boards to full-color coffee mugs and MORE!)

How did you get started?: I got started with my Mary Kay business when I was twenty-three. I was looking for a discount on the products I loved and looking to meet some positive, empowering women who I could learn from and grow with. Because of Mary Kay and these women, I became more confident, less shy, and closer to God. Years later I was able to leave my corporate marketing position where I was overworked, underpaid, and just felt stuck. And not long after leaving that job, we got pregnant. My husband, Derrek, was working in the oilfield at the time, and his job was in jeopardy. Exactly one month after giving birth to our son, he lost his job.

I wasn’t quite ready to go back to work—except for filling Mary Kay orders from the comforts of home—so Derrek had been toying around with the idea of powder coating tumblers. He’d seen some tumblers that were cheaply made and were pretty expensive. “I bet I could do a better job… AND charge people less money.” I remember rolling my eyes. But a few weeks later, some boxes arrived and he started to play around with tumblers, a Craigslist oven, and a powdercoat gun in our garage. Putting my marketing skills to work, I set up a logo, Facebook page, and Instagram account. I posted a few teaser photos of his first successful creation, and people were commenting left and right. Derrek kind of freaked out. “I’m not ready to take orders yet! I still have lots of stuff to figure out!” But after a few more weeks of tinkering in the garage, he started to make custom tumblers for family and close friends and then for customers quickly after.

A year later we were able to invest in a laser engraver to personalize cutting boards, keychains, bottle openers, and more! And just six months after that, we purchased a sublimation printer to create full-color coffee mugs, glass cutting boards, etc! Nothing has had to be financed, and we’ve never advertised…It’s all from word-of-mouth and repeat customers. We believe in putting out quality products and taking great care of our customers, and in return we have been blessed with an awesome business!

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: From our home office! I work from my laptop and phone (around taking care of our toddler) during the day. When Derrek gets home from his day job, he works in the garage or office for a few hours. We all eat dinner and spend some time together in the evening, then Derrek and I go back to work after our son is in bed. We fit it in whenever we can.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: A very busy toddler DEFINITELY makes it difficult to get things done. Sometimes I take my son to run an errand with me so Derrek can get a few things done without interruptions (and there are times when Derrek does the same for me). But during the day, most of the “work” that gets done is responding to customer messages, inquiring about custom orders, pricing, etc. So that can be done around our son’s breakfast, lunch, and nap times. I try to make the most of every minute in my day (which means that I even message from the bathroom, hehe). We try really hard to put the phone away during dedicated family time, too. It’s all about balance.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: The rewards? I have a creative outlet. We are almost debt free (we are completely debt free in our businesses). And we are able to have an income while I stay home with our son. That was extremely important to Derrek and I; we didn’t want to miss out on those first few years.

Who is your greatest supporter?: Our greatest? That’s hard to say. Derrek is my teammate in all of this. Other than him a few very close friends refer business our way, as well as our family.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: We’re inspired by everything that we see and hear daily. Life is fun and super chaotic with a toddler around, so our friends share memes and funny sayings that sometimes turn into a design on a coffee mug. And our customers come to us with ideas that we turn into custom creations.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: Our dream is to retire Derrek from his day job so he can work Lavaca Loca FULL time.

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

Work your “side hustle” as a BUSINESS, NOT a hobby! Make a schedule. Get organized. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Make customer service a top priority. And have FUN with it. When you love what you do, you’ll never “work” a day in your life.

 

If you would like to learn more about Ashley’s Side Hustle, check out her Etsy shop, follow along on Instagram and Facebook, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate.

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