How to Know Your Side Hustle is Ready for Full-Time

Jenna Kutcher 

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June 7, 2021


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Have you ever found yourself feeling lost, like you’re not sure what’s next for you and the vision of your purpose is anything but clear? You are not alone. It was this very experience that became the beginnings of Mary Moody’s business, Made by Mary.

In 2013, she was walking through a challenging season of postpartum depression, fatigue, and lack of clarity surrounding her purpose. But through it, Mary felt drawn to an idea that would help women celebrate and honor pivotal moments in their lives. As she started crafting beautiful gold jewelry, her pieces allowed Mary to connect with countless women, and hear their stories, celebrate their joys, and offer comfort during their heartbreaks.

Now, a small business with dozens of employees and an extensive collection of cherished gold jewelry, Mary’s side-hustle has truly transformed into a life changing endeavor. If you are a product-based business, or dream of bringing your ideas to life, this conversation is full of encouragement as well as tried-and-true lessons from a woman who’s experienced all the learning curves between side-hustle and to full-time entrepreneur to become a stand-out brand in her field.

Where She Started

In 2012, the idea for Made by Mary began swirling as she was a new mom struggling with postpartum depression. Mary explained, “I had an identity crisis. I really just wasn’t sure. I kind of had this loss of sense of purpose, and finding myself and rediscovering myself was kind of the next step for me.”

Mary always wore a necklace with the letter M stamped on it, and when she was breastfeeding her son he would hold onto that necklace. Whenever she wasn’t near her son, she would touch her necklace. “It was just this tangible keepsake for me,” she explained, “And it evoked these emotions and that’s kind of what started this fascination I had with jewelry.”

Mary jumped on YouTube to start her research into stamped jewelry. She learned that there wasn’t a lot of overhead, but she wasn’t making much money in her job at the time. When Mary’s husband got a Christmas bonus, she asked if he’d put the money towards tools she needed to start her jewelry business. He agreed, and Mary opened her Etsy shop as her first foray into making her own jewelry. 

Now, Made by Mary is so much more than a jewelry company. She told me, “We are a company that creates pieces that tell meaningful stories. We want to empower people to share their story and live their story. And it’s beyond what I ever would have imagined.”

Side-Hustle Transformations

“Bootstrapping a business is no joke,” Mary began. “I think you discover a lot about yourself, and you’re forced to look at your weaknesses. You’re forced to look at yourself in this whole new light because you’ve got to keep it moving.”

The earliest days of her business didn’t involve much self-care, balance was non-existent, and it was a constant struggle to reprioritize what needed her time and attention. Mary remembered setting little goals for herself each day with a reward when she hit them, even simple treats like making three sales and rewarding herself by taking her son out to lunch. 

Mary’s business started on Etsy with all organic traffic, and it was really a big learning opportunity for her. It’s where the greater mission for her brand was born. “I began living for the conversations that I would have on [Etsy] from people just pouring their stories out and me getting to be a recipient of these strong, incredible people that were just believing in me,” she reflected, “It was this really beautiful exchange that became this deeply embedded passion of mine.”

Going Full Time

One of the most challenging decisions that comes with starting a business as a side hustle is transforming that part-time gig into a full-time focus. How do you know you’re ready? What if you jump and don’t land on your feet? Mary had all of those fears, but there were a few indicators that it was time to go full-time.

“When you start forgetting to shower or you are getting four hours of sleep,” Mary began, “When your work grows and you can’t keep up, you have to have a hard talk with yourself to really recognize what’s happening here and that there’s something bigger happening.”

Mary hit 100 sales in the first three months but she didn’t hire anyone for two years. When she joined Instagram in October 2013 and started networking and posting about what she was creating, her growth only expanded. It was then she realized that hiring someone was no longer an option and her business could make it as a full-time job.

Secret Sauce for Success

The jewelry space is crowded, but Mary identified quickly that her secret sauce for standing out were the meaningful conversations that she was having with her customers. Their raw, vulnerable stories built a supportive, beautiful community around the brand, and it was so much more than just necklaces and rings. 

Mary said, too, that she determined early on that fear could not be her driving force. She explained, “Having awareness to be able to trust other people… Like us as owners, you think you can do it best and handing off responsibility is one of the most painful things in the beginning. You cling to it out of fear because you’ve worked so hard to create this thing that’s growing and you want to protect it. And how can someone be as invested as you are? That was the turning point for me too, this trust piece, because I also recognized I can’t give this business every bit of me. I need to pull people in to be a part of this.”

That first hire was pivotal for Mary, and now 8 years later, her team is a major part of the growth and success that brand continues to see to this day.

More from Mary Moody

Mary shares more about the pivotal hires in her business, the changes that came with 2020, and the purpose and vision that serve as the driving force behind her business to the day. Plus, I share how Made by Mary became part of my team’s story. You can shop Made by Mary with 10% for Goal Digger listeners — use code: goaldigger10 at checkout.

Thank You to Our Goal Digger Sponsors

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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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