Digital Marketing & Administration Coordinator
In January’s blog What do you do? Side Hustles and the Meandering Career Path, Jody Nelson writes about the prevalence of “side hustles” in the Community Impact Sector, the equity considerations for employers, and how these “gigs” can contribute to our wholeness, creativity, and autonomy. We were curious about Nova Scotia’s “Sector Side Hustlers”, this series of stories highlights just some of the creativity, innovation, and skills that make up our sector.
Aimee Gasparetto (she/her) – Beanstalk Baby Food
Program Director, Every One Every Day Kjipuktuk
It isn’t always easy identifying gaps in product markets, but when these gaps are identified, it can provide an opportunity to develop and be the one to take the lead to fill it. For Aimee Gasparetto, she was ready to be the one to take that jump after identifying market potential for handmade, locally sourced baby food. Aimee co-founded Beanstalk Baby Food in 2016 and was able to flex her entrepreneurial muscles within a food-based organization that she had always envisioned herself working in. Making this business venture a side hustle allowed her the stability needed to take risks and a more financially viable option with her day job. For Aimee, owning a business while also maintaining stable work allowed her to pursue passions, develop professionally and as a person, and seize opportunities she had strived for throughout her life.
“While I was busy all the time – both my daytime job, and the business, were really just extensions of things I cared so much about (food, sustainability, health & well-being, community, localized economies, life-long learning), and together they offered me a lot of joy and a way to live into my personal values.”
Aimee Gasparetto (she/her)
As part of her writing process, Jody wanted to learn more about the variety of creative work and talent within the sector. We had the opportunity to connect with Aimee Gasparetto to learn more about the inspirations and aspirations behind her side hustle. Here’s what Aimee had to say:
Q 1. Why did you choose to start this side hustle?
I’ve always felt that I have an entrepreneurial spirit and at the time it was invigorating, and a massive challenge – but an exciting one. I had done some preliminary market research around potential products, and a food product made a lot of sense for me at the time. My mother was a professional chef and throughout my teenage years, I worked alongside her doing every job you can imagine in her teaching school & catering kitchen – washing dishes, prepping food, making prepared meals, and serving customers. Then later in life, early jobs in my career were connected to food too. I worked with organizations and communities to set up community gardens, run community kitchens, and develop in urban agriculture programs. Food was my thing, and I always had a sense I’d try my hand at a food-based business if the opportunity was there. But aside from that, once I felt ready, this was an avenue that offered a lot of infrastructure and support for me to get started; I could test things out without taking on a lot of risk. These things, along with having a full-time job in place, made it financially viable to get started.
Q 2. How did you juggle the commitments with your day job and your life?
I worked a regular 9-5pm schedule, while heading to the kitchen two nights a week to make and process baby food, while using the other weekday nights to do the backend business stuff. On the weekends we’d prep ourselves to sell at the farmer’s market and making drop-offs at different retail locations. It was a ton of work, and I didn’t have kids at the time, but I was happy to be learning and discovering so much about myself and what I was capable of. While I was busy all the time – both my daytime job, and the business, were really just extensions of things I cared so much about (food, sustainability, health & well-being, community, localized economies, life-long learning), and together they offered me a lot of joy and a way to live into my personal values. After a year I ended up running the business on my own and after two years, I ended up shutting it down for a host of reasons. I’m not sure if I’ll ever start a business again, but I live with the knowledge that I can – and that sense of knowing presented a big shift in what felt possible to me.
Q3. What was the response from your employer? What workplace policies or practices might help?
In terms of the response from my employer – it never really came into the mix at the time because I was able to keep the two commitments quite separate. That said, the work I was doing, and the team I was part of, embodied so much of what I’ve come to appreciate in my work life. I was autonomous, while also being accountable to my team members, external, the organization, and other external stakeholders. This meant that that I was able to manage my time and my responsibilities so that I could deliver on my commitments, but at the same time be flexible if needed. Come to think of it, I’ve always benefited from flexible work environments that are both demanding and driven, but also where the culture is one of trust and adaptable work styles – something I’ve come to value deeply and almost rely on.
Q4. How does it impact your work presently, and/or your career? Consider challenges, benefits, learnings, etc.
While I don’t currently have a “side hustle”, I trust that something will come along some day that I’ll want to dip my toes into and it will be important that I’m able to explore those things. At the end of the day, the opportunity to explore business opportunities while maintaining stable work, is partly about long-term financial resilience, but also about my own learning and development, pursuing my passions, and building my capacity and energy to be a more fulfilled human, and employee. If one day that leads into full-time self-employment, then I’ll know I would have been supported along the way to make that dream a reality.
Curious to meet more of Nova Scotia’s Sector Side Hustlers? Stay tuned for the upcoming stories!
Digital Marketing & Administration Coordinator
Haley supports many aspects of IONS’ work including communications, events and learning, and operations. Her organization, tech-savviness, and creativity is a huge win for the team!
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