A masterclass in building a satisfying side hustle

Far from being ’side-tracked by the side-hustle’ the Aura story underlines the way in which a side-hustle can provide creative fuel for a progressive agency

Women’s sexuality can be used to sell everything except their own pleasure. This is the clarity and truth which underpins the sexual wellness brand Aura. Aura’s mission is to empower everyone to love themselves and others with confidence and respect. 5% of all of Aura’s profits are donated to charities that fight to support survivors of sexual and domestic crimes and to prevent them.

The brand is on a mission to remove the taboos around pleasure and self-love so that everyone can feel comfortable being themselves. In a lively and honest panel discussion Rachel Eban, Planner at Saatchi & Saatchi and Juliet Cornick, Account Director at Saatchi & Saatchi spoke with Nicola Kemp, Editorial Director at Creativebrief about the sexual wellness startup brand they were instrumental in building.

Far from being ’side-tracked by the side-hustle’ the Aura story underlines the way in which a side-hustle, far from being a distraction, can in fact be creative fuel for a progressive agency.

Side-hustle stigma

Cast your mind back to the industry conversation surrounding ‘side hustles’ prior to the pandemic; when some industry leaders expressed concern that industry talent could effectively be sidetracked by their side hustles. Yet as the Aura story shows they can in fact be a progressive agency’s creative fuel. 

Far from being threatened by Eban’s creative pursuit Saatchi & Saatchi played a key role as agency partner. However, Eban expressed fears about how Aura would be perceived and said she felt as though she had to keep her ‘side-hustle’ under wraps for fear that co-workers would think she wasn’t focused on her role. It wasn’t until one day she was inspired to email her CEO asking for help with a pro-bono campaign that she became more open as she was excited that the work she was doing could lead to both awards and industry change.

Eban says that “while your day-to-day team might be worried about your time, senior leadership can have more of a birds-eye view where they look for creative people who enjoy creativity in their own lives who can bring exciting ideas to work.” 

For Eban, it was within conversations with senior leaders that she was able to find support. At Saatchi & Saatchi, employees are encouraged to talk about their side-hustles regularly as it is believed that they help teach valuable business skills leading to greater client understanding. Now, agencies have been forced to become more accepting of the side-hustle as during lockdown people had more time to invest into their own passion projects. Accepting employees' interests outside of work and supporting them feeds into a culture of creativity.

The industry has reached an interesting point as we ease out of the pandemic and there are still questions marks surrounding what the future of work will look like. The creative industries can be intense, productivity can be demanding and lots of client/agency work relies on chemistry that can be hard to replicate over zoom. Cornick says that agencies have grown adaptable because of this, attempting to set boundaries and support employees to take time out. For those that want to commit time to a ‘side-hustle’ there are ways it can be done particularly now. It’s a balancing act, “the key is setting boundaries, but people like Rachel show that it can be done.” says Cornick.

An opportune moment

The pandemic has impacted every part of our lives from the ways we work to the ways we shop. The Aura brand was long in the works pre-lockdown but changing shopping habits sparked the brand into action. “Lockdown saw a spike in the sales of vibrators and lubricants, we had to jump on that boat or we were just going to miss it,” says Eban. “The demand for sexual wellness shot up as people were stuck inside, in some cases separated from their partners or maybe even just bored!”. She also noted that people’s views toward masturbation were changing, not necessarily society-wide but amongst those already engaged. External factors and changing behaviours alongside existing preparation made it the perfect time to launch Aura. 

With Aura, Eban set out to break taboos around sexual health and champion women’s pleasure. The industry still faces some social stigma and faces regulation challenges. She mentions the fact that often women’s masturbation is associated with self-care and whilst this is beneficial in some ways, Aura as a brand aims to focus on pleasure to empower women who most of the time masturbate for the same reasons as men. 

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