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When a side hustle turns full-time…

Full time side hustle

It’s natural for a graphic designer to do freelance work on the side for friends, family and clients through a referral network. Adam Feller was one of those graphic designers who would work 40 hours a week but pick up extra graphic design projects on the side.

About two years ago Feller started to understand that he could turn his passion project into his full-time hustle.

“I just kept getting more and more referrals,” Feller says. “You do a project and get paid for it, then they tell a friend and next thing you know you have tons of work on the side.”

After realizing his paychecks from his side hustle would add up to be more than what he made from his full-time job, Feller made a career change.

In September of 2017, Feller launched his own company, Avidity Creative.

“I had made the same amount of money on side projects as I was going to make in a full year with my full-time job,” Feller said. “So that was my signal to think, if I’m doing that much on the side in ten to 12 hours a week, I can be able to make a full-time thing out of it like a normal job.”

After publishing a story on passion projects—or a side hustle—earlier last month, Clay & Milk decided to take that story a step further and if there were any passion project—or side hustle—that turned into a full-time job.

Targeting the food industry

Avidity Creative
Avidity Creative founder Adam Feller.

While Avidity Creative is a branding agency, it focuses on the food industry and rebranding restaurants, creating logos, interior graphics, menu and website design.

“My plan is not to be a ‘solopreneur,” Feller says. “I want to grow Avidity Creative to be a handful of people. In order to do that so I’m not competing with a bunch of other agencies, the way to get a leg up is not be a “me too” agency. By creating a niche I can own that and be seen as the expert in the industry. If someone wants to start a restaurant and is looking for someone to create their brand identity, we’re a company that focuses on the food industry.”

Feller says since becoming his own boss, he’s noticed he spends less time on social media and is both more productive and more efficient.

“Hopefully my former bosses don’t see that,” Feller says laughing. “But I’m glad I took the jump, it was definitely scary not knowing but what made it easier for me is I planned ahead.”

Feller said he saved money from his side projects for nearly a year before starting Avidity Creative.

“I had about a ten-month cushion,” Feller said. “Planning ahead and saving were crucial steps for me to make that jump.”

Meal prepping for the masses

Mac’d cofounders (from left) Stefanie Busby and Jeni Lee. Photo courtesy of Mac’d

For Jeni Lee, food isn’t worth eating if it doesn’t taste delicious. But because she also competes in swimsuit competitions, she needs to watch what she eats.

So she preps her meals and macros out each meal based on macronutrients that she includes in her diet. And because she’s a sponsored athlete by the Sisu Strength Academy in Waukee, Lee would hold informal classes to talk about meal prepping, what she does, why she does it and the benefits.

“As we started those classes they were like it’s great, but can you do that for me?” Lee recalls. “They didn’t want to do it themselves.”

Those conversations started in November of 2017.

“I thought maybe I could do it as a part-time job and it grew so quickly,” Lee says. “There was no way to be part-time.”

So Lee and her co-founder Stefanie Baier started Mac’d, an Altoona-based company that preps healthy meals for its clients. Mac’d offers customers different meal options and plans that range from $200 a week to $10. A group meal prep class is also offered.

“We do everything, some of our clients if they don’t have kids, they don’t even need to grocery shop,” Lee says. “When we were pulling all-nighters just to get everything thing, I realized I didn’t have time to do anything else. Never in a million years did I think it would go this quickly. But it’s been fun.”

Lee was working as an account manager in human resources before Mac’d became a full-time job.

Lee said Mac’d is looking to open its own kitchen in downtown Des Moines and potentially have a storefront for sales.

“The relationship with food is very skewed, it’s something that doesn’t need to be,” Lee says. “It’s simple when you break it down and I want to spread that. People can eat what tastes great and still be healthy.”

Coworking for creatives in Cedar Rapids

Yoimono Coworking
The Yoimono Coworking Space in Cedar Rapids is for the creative community in Eastern Iowa. Photo courtesy of Yoimono Coworking

What stands for “Good stuff” in Japanese, James Welbes is hopeful the Yoimono Coworking space in Cedar Rapids can bring together creatives from Eastern Iowa.

Welbes is a web designer working to make the Yoimono Coworking Space his full-time hustle. He says his main source of income right now is through working construction, but when the founders of Yoimono were looking to expand their team, Welbes was there.

“I like the idea of a creative space for creatives and building a community of creatives,” Welbes says.

The Yoimono coworking space opened in September of 2017 in the Cherry Building in Cedar Rapids.

“There’s a lot of creative people around here,” Welbes says. “We’re hopeful it’s something that will grow in this area because there seems to be a thriving creative community around here.”


When a side hustle turns full-time... | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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