It’s no secret that a “real” job doesn’t always pay the bills or provide gratification. As a result, energetic creatives are abandoning the grind to professionally unwind and pursue interests that are seldom found in the doldrums of a 9-to-5 job.

A mix of perspiration and aspiration, side hustles are regularly predicated on shaking off the yolk of menial labor in favor
 of an opportunity to choose a path that stirs passion and ingenuity. Here is some advice from three professionals whose hustles satisfy their independent spirit while fostering an innovative community.

For Wes Hoffman, meeting people was easy. Frustrated by the drudgery of work and yearning to run his own business, a restless Hoffman harnessed his knack for networking, changed the rules and started his side hustle, a company that helps people make connections with others in related fields. In 2014, after fending off frustration and fretting, he hosted a series of events that blossomed into Treehouse Networkshop, a full-service business for connecting the emboldened with others looking to step up their game.

Reflecting on his origins, Ho man offered some advice on growing a side hustle into a meaningful career. “A lot of it is not giving up and doing what you need to do to make it happen. I’m over two years into this venture of being self-employed. I think, as a person, you have to learn a lot, become smarter and develop the mindset that you are going to learn from everything.” He also addressed overcoming the risk of pursuing a side hustle as a career. “The risk is motivating,” he says. “Stay positive. You know that you are going to have to put yourself out there and persevere. For me, I knew myself well enough to know that I learn by doing things, and whether or not it’s the right way, I knew I had to try. I didn’t want to look back and wonder, ‘What would Treehouse be?’”

Bronwyn Ritchie is a digital marketing manager for the Timmerman Group by day and a superhero side hustler by night. Ritchie’s hustles include overseeing marketing for St Lou Fringe, volunteering as a project coordinator for Ready + Willing, a pro bono marketing and advertising assistance firm, and serving on the board for Solid Lines Productions, a theater company that presents socially relevant works in order to facilitate community discussions.

Ritchie commented on the role side hustles play in community building and inner satisfaction. “I think the people that have side hustles are drawn to making change in their communities and working extra hard to have an impact,” she says. “What drives me on all of these fronts is trying to bring something to the city of St. Louis that makes it better. I think everyone living here deserves the best city that St. Louis can be.”

Jenn Malzone hustles to her own beat. She carefully walks between two worlds: one as the vocalist for Middle Class Fashion, 
a melodic four-piece that makes “pop music for weird people,” according to the band’s website, and the other as an employee for Steinway Piano Gallery, where her passion for music enables her to meet other musicians while also manning the company’s social media, website and advertising. Her mix of day job and side hustle forms a carefully structured yin-and-yang relationship.

While working on the band’s new album, due in September, Malzone offered counsel on balancing business and beats. “My best advice for balancing a job and a side hustle is to prioritize, plan and be realistic about what you can do in a day. Know when you need to be super disciplined — to push yourself even though you’re tired, but you also have to know when you need to give yourself a break to avoid burnout.”

Armed with tenacity, creativity and the sheer willpower to over- come fear, these intrepid innovators have embraced their desires and shaken o the daily grind in order to achieve personal satisfaction by turning hustles into happenings.

Look for the print version of MAX on newsstands around St. Louis to see our sidebar of “Side Hustle Incubator” spots in the Lou. M