{Monday Musings} Can You Turn a Hobby into a Career?

“Do what you love, love what you do” is advice that I have heard so often over the years. It seems like such a simple concept, but what if what you love isn’t something conventional like advertising or finance? Is there a way to turn something that you’d resigned to just being a hobby into a career?

I posed that question on our Twitter page a few months ago, and received a few interesting stories in return. The most unconventional one by far was from Shelina of Decluttr Me, who started an organization consultancy for homes and offices. When she found herself rearranging her friends’ homes for fun, she knew it was time to take her love for order from a pastime to a full time job. Read how she took the leap and her advice to others below.


Tell us a little about your background – schooling, past work experience, places you’ve lived. 

I was born and brought up in Kent, England by my East African Indian parents.   I went to university in London to study law and eventually went on to work as in-house Legal Executive in London for a book club company. After 5 years working in London, I applied for a job to work as an in-house lawyer for Emirates, got the job and moved to Dubai in 2005. In 2006, I decided to study once again to become a Solicitor and returned to London for a year. In 2007 I returned to Dubai, as I missed it so much and took on roles as Legal Counsel for various companies in the city.

What was the hobby that made you think to change your career course?
I have always been a neat and organized person. I had reorganized all the legal filing systems hard and soft copies in the companies I worked for. I also had an annoying habit (according to some friends) of visiting them at home and then reorganizing. I would be at my happiest when decluttering for myself or for third parties.

Was your intention to eventually turn this hobby into a career or was it unexpected?
I had a recurring dream of starting a business of decluttering for years. I started reviewing websites last year for decluttering and found it was a proper business model in the UK and USA and that you could turn the dream into reality.

When did you make the leap of faith?
After discussing the idea with my close family and a few friends, I took the plunge and created the website, Twitter account and Facebook page to start gaining interest in Dubai and the UAE. I left my position as Legal Counsel at the end of September 2013 to work on Decluttr Me fully.

So how did you turned your hobby into a money making business?
The concept for Decluttr Me is to go into people’s homes and declutter certain areas within the home in [paid] sessions. I have been testing the concept in various homes over the last few months for free to gain experience and also to see if this is a concept that could work here.  I have started gaining clients in the last few months and been decluttering areas such as their kitchens. The business also collects uncollected clothes and small items to sell and then donate the proceeds to charity. There have been various people interested in us collecting their goods to either donate or sell on their behalf.

How has your experience been so far?
The experience so far has been interesting. The decluttering service is a completely new concept in the region and I do have to explain what happens when we provide the service on a regular basis. Once the person understands the concept there is a wonderment and excitement in this service being provided. However, due to the nature of the service that is provided, it does take a while for people to be comfortable enough to allow you to enter their homes and organize their spaces. It can be a psychological problem that has led to the hoarding of stuff in their homes so we cannot push anyone to become our client until they feel safe and secure that we will provide the service confidentially and delicately (but with a bit of force to help them remove the clutter from their life).

What is your advice for someone who is looking to power their hobby into a career?

  • Save your money and don’t have any outstanding debts so that you can start your new venture with a clean slate.
  • Research, research and research – everything about your hobby, similar businesses globally and in the region, developments in the industry, etc.
  • Learn how to use social media for businesses especially on Twitter and Facebook. Start gaining followers personally as they will be the ones that spread the word for you when you start your business account.
  • Pinterest – great ideas and pretty pictures; what more could you ask for.
  • Find out early where is the best place to form your company within a free zone and start the process as soon as you can once you are ready to form your business.
  • Create a business plan and budget. It is incredibly boring and hard work but it is needed to provide to the banks when forming a bank account, potential investors and you can take the wording from your business plan to include in interviews. Also it is a document you can re-read when you require inspiration of why you pursued this crazy dream.
  • If you have no idea how to form a company talk to friends who have started SME’s
  • Tell limited friends and family as you don’t want your idea to be stolen but gain their support and get their (free) ideas for the business.

If you have turned your hobby into your dream job, get in touch with us at info@thecurve-me.com and share your story! 


{Monday Musings} How Do You Unwind?

The idea for The Curve came to me in 2012 when I realized that I was stuck in a routine of work, eat, sleep. Dubai’s corporate rat race had drained me to the point where I did not have the energy to invest in my personal development, and so I convinced myself that I didn’t have the time. When I started to really think about it and assessed how I spend my time, I was ashamed at how much time I wasted in front of screens- TV, computers, phones – all in an attempt to unwind.

It felt justified to spend so much time glued to the TV. After all, working 10 hour days in a fast paced business was mentally exhausting that settling in front of the TV felt like a good way to switch off and unwind. But I had to ask myself the question: is this the only way I know how to unwind?

I began to investigate other things that could potentially serve as an equally relaxing substitute. Soon I found myself going to the gym more after work, working on DIY projects for my house, trying new dance classes, and so much more. Not only were these activities equally relaxing for me, but they were also mentally stimulating on a personal level. I began to feel more fulfilled, satisfied with the way I was spending my time, and above all happy.

So many of us convince ourselves that being sedentary after work and switching our brains off is the only way we can shake off our daily stress, but in reality there are unlimited options out there to help us unwind. If like me you are spending way too much time in front of the TV or computer after work, try doing something different one night a week after work and you’ll soon find yourself more energetic, equally relaxed, and probably hungry for more!

If you’re lacking some inspiration, you can always head on over to our site and browse hundreds of classes to try!

Keep growing,

If you’d like to contribute to our Monday Musings feature with a piece on lifelong learning, work-life balance, hobbies, or anything related, please email info@thecurve-me.com

Need to get in shape? Don’t miss these deals!

Capella Club, The Curve

There always seems to be a good excuse to not head to the gym. Tight deadlines at work, kids’ homework, budget constraints – the list is endless. To help encourage all us slackers to get off our bums and get started on our resolutions (that are already two months overdue, ahem), The Capella Club in Dubai Marina is offering some EXCLUSIVE packages to The Curve users. With a minimum of 50% discount on these packages, can’t really ask for much more to get us to put away the biscuits and pick up the weights!! Check them out and get moving!

Samira, Capella Club, Fitness, Workout, Dubai, Marina, The Curve

1 Month Unlimited Fitness Classes Originally AED 300, now AED 150
4 Months Unlimited Fitness Classes Originally AED 1000, now AED 500
10 Private Personal Training Sessions Originally AED 2700, now AED 1200
10 Semi-Private Personal Training Sessions Originally AED 5400, now AED 1800

The Curve Accepted into Afkar.me!

Afkar.me, The Curve ME, The Curve Middle East

Four months ago, we heard about a new digital incubator Afkar.me that was being launched by Intigral, one of the Middle East’s largest digital media specialists. With a focus on product development and mentorship, it sounded like exactly what The Curve needed to grow into what we envisioned.

After submitting an online application in November, we went through numerous interview steps before reaching the final bootcamp stage on Feb 28 & March 1. There, the 65 applicants had been narrowed down to 10, out of which 3 would be selected to join Afkar’s inaugural group of companies. 

The bootcamp was a tough experience, but one that was beyond beneficial for us as a digital startup. The first day comprised of workshops that aimed to help us develop the strongest pitch possible to give before the judges on the following day. We had known that we were expected to pitch prior to starting the bootcamp, but were shocked when we heard that we would only have TWO minutes to convince the judges that we were the right company to accept into the program. As one of the mentors so eloquently put it, “it’s like having to fit a 500 pound gorilla in a Fiat Cinquecento!”

Ghassan working on our pitch

Ghassan working on our pitch

Between workshops on value proposition, financials, business model, go to market strategy, and pitching we had a crazy first day that really opened our eyes to many new ideas that we could take forward even if we were not accepted into the program. The next day we were ready to meet the judges with our 2 minute pitch. After all ten teams had pitched, they would select five to move ahead to the final round, out of which three would be chosen. We were delighted to make it to the final round, mostly because it gave us 10 minutes to expand on our pitch rather than just 2!

Waiting to hear the judge's decision. Can you tell I was so tired?

Waiting to hear the judge’s decision. Can you tell I was so tired?

After an intense weekend and a lot of deliberation, the judges finally chose the three winners: theDRESSroom.com, an online evening wear platform, Bitesized, a healthy snack box provider, and….US! We are so overwhelmed and excited to have the opportunity to  work with Afkar to push The Curve forward to bring you an ever better experience and help more people find something new to stimulate them.

The program will last a total of 3 months and we will keep you updated on our journey and the journey of the two other companies that have joined with us. We are so thankful for all the support we have received over the past ten months from friends, family, and The Curve’s fans and we are excited to see what the future holds for us. Watch this space!