Every day they’re hustling

Nellie, nine months, with mum Victoria and some learning boxes. Picture: Rob Carew

A side hustle is a job that you can work on top of your full-time job. It is a flexible second job that brings in money, but it is also something that you are passionate about that you don’t get to pursue in your main job. Kids Today reporter Melissa Meehan spoke to some local parents about their side hustle.

Grun House Interiors, YARRA GLEN

It all started from a simple idea.

Renate, a successful cake decorator and mother of one, and Ingrid, a fitness instructor and mother of three autistic children, had pretty much lost their jobs during the major Covid-19 lockdown last year.

“I was down to one Facebook live fitness class a week and Renate had all her wedding cakes cancelled and had the occasional birthday cake booked in,” Ingrid said.

The duo grew up in Yarra Glen surrounded by the bush and their mother’s love of gardening, but it wasn’t until they were in their 30s that they too found their love of plants.

“I needed an outlet from the stress of raising three autistic children very close in age (4, 6 and 8),” Ingrid said.

“I love the feeling of calmness, almost mediation and serenity caring for a plant gave me.

“It also can instantly turn a house into a home.”

So jobless and in need of an outlet, Ingrid and Renate took a leap of faith.

Grun House Interiors was created.

The meaning behind their name is simple.

“My sister and I are of German descent, we both wanted to pay tribute to this part of our life and Grun in German means Green,” Ingrid said.

“Grun House Interiors specialises in indoor plants, succulents, cacti, plant care and beautiful pots and planters that fit perfectly with your home interiors.”

They have returned to their jobs, but Grun House Interiors continues.

And it provides some extra income, but also allows the flexibility that Ingrid needs.

“With three children with special needs, I need something that allows me to go to appointments (because there are many), or that I am able to stop because I get a call from the school because one of them has had a meltdown,” she said.

“It takes a lot of the weight off.

“To us Grun House Interiors is so much more than a business, it’s a way to bring a touch of nature into our lives, into our homes which we believe brings joy, love and most importantly self-care.


Renate and Ingrid. Picture: Rob Carew
Tarquin with garments she has made. Picture: Rob Carew

Pippa Studios, LILYDALE

It’s a labour of love.

Tarquin Harvey started sewing when she was 11 years old.

Getting her hands dirty as a gardener by day, once she puts the kids to bed she pulls out the trusty sewing machine and makes her own sustainable clothing for children made with upcycled and recycled materials.

“My friends have been telling me for years that I should sell them,” she said.

“So I thought it was finally time to do it.”

The single mum of two , who creates one-of-a-kind outfits, says she does most of her sewing at night or when the kids are at their dad’s on the weekend.

And she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I really enjoy what I’m doing,” she said.

She sources second hand fabrics from eBay, Facebook market place or anywhere she can, including Op Shops.

“I found some bargains, it’s pretty fun, searching high and low,” she said.

“I make a woollen vest, a woollen jacket, Peter Pan romper, vest romper.

“They are easy to make and so adorable.”



The Classroom Collective, Ferntree Gully

Victoria Gilbert was always heavily involved in her work.

So it’s no surprise when the primary teacher was on maternity leave after giving birth to her daughter Nellie, she really missed teaching.

After the second round of remote learning last year she had the idea to create pre-made learning boxes targeting each strand of the Victorian curriculum.

“I saw how much parents were struggling to get their hands on resources,” she said.

“It made me think that parents who don’t have an educational background don’t know how to find them.

“And it’s really important that it’s available.”

Each box includes real resources that are used in the classroom that can now be purchased by parents to have at home.

It also targets children who are beginning school, and gets them on track – particularly with writing.

Victoria has returned to work as a prep teacher (one day a week).

But it has cemented her belief that these learning boxes are so important.

“I am constantly undoing children’s writing, as parents have tried to do the right thing by purchasing resources from the newsagent/book shops, but in turn, have actually taught their children the incorrect writing formation,” she said.

“The resource boxes are affordable and very aesthetically pleasing – I can’t stand the ugly resources we are often presented with.

Each box is personalised and custom boxes are also available to target specific learning needs.

“My dream for this side hustle is to make the connection between school and home learning so much stronger, and for parents to feel supported – particularly if another remote learning is to ever come around again,” she said.


Nellie, nine months, with mum Victoria and some learning boxes. Picture: Rob Carew
Hannah with a custom family portrait.

There is beauty, MOOROOLBARK

When Hannah Prowse found out she was pregnant with a little girl – she was very much of the mindset that she wanted her to learn to love her body.

Then when Victoria went into lockdown she, like everyone else, had quite a bit of time on her hands.

“I was interested in what my body was doing and there were a lot of changes,” she said.

“And I wanted to focus on them being really positive things and being excited about what they meant rather than ‘oh! I’m getting stretch marks or a little bit fat’.

“So I tried to turn those thoughts into something positive.”

There Is Beauty was born.

A disability support worker by day, Hannah wanted to learn a new skill, and was inspired by friends who had done some digital drawings.

So she gave it a go.

It started off really busy as she was commissioned for keepsake pieces – turning photographs into drawings – which are really popular around Christmas time. And she has grown the business to also include logo design for business.

“It really kept me sane during lockdown,” she said.

“It was really important for me to have something to focus on that wasn’t baby or Covid.”

She also found that promoting a much more positive image of what being a mother is actually like is not only cathartic, but popular too.

“When I became a mum I was very much thrown into the world of everyone having an opinion, so it was nice to turn some of that energy into my drawings.



Moon toots, Mooroolbark

When Jess Farkashazy wanted to use cloth nappies for her first born son, she was talked out of it.

She wanted to do her bit for the environment.

But older generations warned her it would be too much work alongside being thrown into the world of motherhood.

When she had her daughter, she knew things would be different.

But she couldn’t find any designs she liked – so started to make them herself.

“The main reason I wanted to use them is the environment, but some people do it because their kids get really bad nappy rash,” she said.

“There are a lot of chemicals in disposable nappies and they take between 300 and 500 years to break down.

“That is a long time for them to hang around in landfill.”

And it’s not like the old days, there’s no need to soak the cloth nappies for days on end.

You can just throw them in the washing machine and you are ready to go.

“My parents and grandparents didn’t realise how much easier they are this time,” she said.

“And over time they are so much cheaper.

“You can use them for multiple children – they last for years and years.”

A departure from her regular day job as a hotel cleaner, Jess makes the nappies when the kids (aged one and three) go to bed or if she gets a day off while they are at childcare.

“I just love them, I could talk about cloth nappies till the cows come home,” she said.



Jess with reusable nappies.

Baby got shade, Yarra Ranges area

Courtney and Kate are two friends that have the perfect partnership.

They started Baby Got Shade in 2017, and six months later Kate was pregnant.

They laughed about paying her maternity leave.

They’ve always treated it as a side hustle, an escape from their everyday lives, and that’s what makes it work.

“I work three days a week, I’ve got two kids,” Courtney said.

“And she and her husband run a building company with two kids as well.

“We’re great partners, we are very similar.”

The key element is finding someone who understands that sometimes life gets in the way, according to Courtney.

“There is no guilt if I don’t put too much energy in it, because Kate understands that life gets in the way,” she said.

“It’s been really fun, and we made a good profit in our first year which was insane.

“I don’t know how we did it, with small children around, but I think it’s one of those mum things – you just do it.”

A far cry from her every day job as a family lawyer, Courtney says it couldn’t be any more different.

“People who buy the shades are usually pretty happy and excited about what’s to come as opposed to divorce and separation,” she said.



Mel and Eliza love working together.

Gather Flower Farm, Silvan

When 13-year-old cousins Melanie Kercheval and Eliza Henry-Jones shared an online horse gaming account, they never dreamed it would be the precursor to a thriving flower farm.

“When we thought about working together as adults, we knew we’d be able to work together,” Eliza said.

“It sounds silly now, but back when we were 13, that gaming account was serious business.”

The pair, who are now 30 and 31 years old and each the mother of a two-year-old, started up their side hustle flower farm in September 2020.

‘We both adore flowers and it seemed like a really lovely project to embark on together,’ Mel says.

The flower farm is based on Eliza’s 7.5 acre property in Silvan.

Their focus is on growing flowers with as little impact on the environment as possible.

They don’t use damaging herbicides or pesticides and grow everything they can from seed.

Their flower patch is frequented by ladybugs, brown tree frogs, blue tongue lizards and a thriving local bird and bee population.

“A lot of people don’t realise how many cut flowers are imported into Australia and the sorts of sprays that are used on them when they come through customs,” she said.

“It’s not the sort of thing a lot of people would really want in their house compared to chemical-free local flowers, which are freshly picked and grown without anything hazardous.”

Although it’s a lot of work and has been a very steep learning curve, the pair love the flexibility that the flower farm allows.

“We’re pretty small scale and the flexibility really suits having young children,” she said.

The pair also offers workshops and events in a newly renovated barn space on the farm.

“We renovated the barn using second-hand, local materials. It’s given us a space where we can run workshops, celebrations like hen’s days and even photography sessions,” she said.

They’re passionate about celebrating the local and sustainable – utilising local cake-makers, potters, photographers and artisans.

“It’s such a joyful thing to be a part of,” Mel said.


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