“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 firstname.lastname@example.org and share your story!