Life at Allens

Everyday I'm hustlin': work life balance in the spotlight

One thing's for sure - 'side hustles' are #trending.

Pursuing interests and passions outside of work provides many people with an avenue for exploring their creative or entrepreneurial sides.

We spoke to two of our lawyers, both with their own side hustles, to find out what motivates them and for their tips on managing the hustle.

Natasha Dixon, Associate

What is your side hustle and how did it come about?

I'm not sure you can call it a 'side hustle' just yet, but I make earrings out of polymer clay. It all started when I did an earring-making course in Fitzroy (what a Melbourne sentence…!). I loved doing something creative and being able to make something tangible (and wearable), so I continued to practice following the workshop and it went from there.

How do you balance the demands of your side hustle with being a commercial lawyer?

Luckily for me, I have been able to fit it around my workload (although it may get tricker once I start selling them on Etsy or at markets). There are certainly ups and downs in terms of busy periods as a commercial lawyer, so it's just a matter of making the most of the quieter times.

I have been very lucky at Allens because my team is really supportive of my hobby. Last year, I was invited to run an earring making workshop in partnership with our RAP committee (with all proceeds going to charity). It was such a great experience being able to share my knowledge with my colleagues and to see two parts of my life coming together, all for a good cause.

In addition, as part of my role in the firm's Food & Wine Club, I was able to help put on an 'Allens Night Market' where people from the firm could showcase their non-law hobbies, which was so much fun!  

What's the main challenge you face with having a side hustle? How do you overcome this?

For me, the most difficult part is being able to dedicate the time needed to learn a new skill. Doing something completely different to my 'day job' is really cathartic (think mindful colouring) and there's something about using the creative part of my brain that helps in managing stress.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a side hustle?

I have also been able to take the things I've learnt from 'the hustle' into my job as a commercial lawyer. There is an increasing focus within law firms to innovate and produce advice in different and creative ways, and my hobbies have made me more adventurous in exploring different ways of doing things.

Natasha Dixon

I can't offer too much in the way of advice for starting up a business, but in terms of picking up a new skill or hobby, just to give it a go! I never really thought of myself as a 'creative' person, but I think it's just that I hadn't found the right forum.

It sounds a bit corny, but learning a new skill has given me the confidence to try new things and to not be afraid of being awful on the first try (which is a difficult thing to learn for an A-type lawyer!). Since I started making jewellery, I've also had the confidence to learn to make candles, soap and ceramic plant pots.

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Some of Natasha's work

Elise Rutherfurd, Associate

What is your side hustle and how did it come about?

I would not call it a 'side hustle', but I make tapestries. It's a really fun and creative hobby, which also serves as a post-work decompression exercise (without any of the sweating involved in actual exercise).

I need to thank my mum for my love of tapestrying – for as long as I can remember she's managed to balance her work life with creative side projects, including weaving alpaca fleeces and crocheting.

I had been meaning to start for ages, and then I woke up one Saturday craving a creative challenge, so I drove myself to my nearest wool shop. It was so much fun walking around the wool store and picking out all sorts of fun, colourful wools – I was hooked! 

How do you balance the demands of your side hustle with being a commercial lawyer?

Tapestrying has been my way of putting work behind me and preparing mentally and physically for the week ahead. I've made it a point to try and set aside at least a couple of hours each week to tapestry, even when work gets busy. There is something uniquely meditative and relaxing about concentrating on nothing but a product you are creating.

What's the main challenge you face with having a side hustle? How do you overcome this?

Beside the challenge of learning a new skill, the biggest challenge has been keeping up with tapestrying at the same time as work. It's been a steep (and ongoing) learning curve, but it's all about trying to carve out time for yourself and what you love. I love the satisfaction of starting with an empty loom and turning it into something fun, fluffy and soft.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a side hustle?

For me, tapestrying is a personal project so I'm not sure I can give expert advice on starting a side hustle.

However, I will say it is essential for grads to keep up the creative activities and hobbies they love. Even if it's reading or playing an instrument – the more time I spend at Allens, the more I realise that people who are really good at their jobs also have a creative interest that allows them to bring their A-game to work.

Elise Rutherfurd

Doing creative things for no reason other than to try something new forces you to learn how to make mistakes (which is not an intuitive skill!), think creatively, problem solve and generally learn how to not take yourself too seriously – all essential skills in lawyers!

If you could go back and do it again, in hindsight what would you do differently?

I would have started in my first year of work. As I said before, there's a tendency for junior lawyers to throw themselves into work. The more senior you get, the more you realise that balance is definitely key (and encouraged) – so keeping up the things you love outside work ensures you remain motivated, challenged and excited.

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Some of Elise's work

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