How this powerhouse grew her side hustle into a 6-figure business
Updated: Feb 18
‘Side Hustle Stories’ is my new regular column about brilliant women who run side hustles on the side of their 9-5s and turn them into legit businesses. Here, we meet my client Athina Bluff, who founded Topology Interiors on the side and has since built it into a 6 figure business. She lives in London with her boyfriend Theo and dog Sasha. You can find her on Instagram @topologyinteriors.
When did you kick off your side hustle?
I started it in 2015 when I was working in the luxury furniture industry. I had a woman approach me on the shop floor of where I was working and she asked if I could come to her house and style her property. I was so excited that someone took a shining to me so I said YES and started sending ideas to her via email. I came up with a whole presentation and shopping links to buy and I then had a light bulb moment and thought 'Hey I can make this into something'. I plodded on for a couple of years (luckily no one else was doing the same thing at the time) and few years later when I got a high flying paying client paying me £1,000 to do a small job, I thought 'Fuck it, it's now or never' and I went full force into Topology in 2016/17.
What were the challenges that drove you to make the change and how were they impacting your life?
I was working in a furniture showroom so the hours were rota hours, spanning across 7 days a week. I would be miserable sitting in a showroom on a beautiful summer’s day on a Saturday or Sunday knowing my friends were having fun in the park or pub. I was constantly miserable and missed out on so many birthdays, holidays, parties in my early 20's. So I decided I wanted to work for myself and make my own money. I never actually thought Topology would turn into what it has, it's literally my dream where I am now.
How long had you been thinking about it and how did you kick it off?
I’d been thinking about it for about 18 months. I saved up enough money to have a few months rent to fall back on and I also had a boyfriend who was freelance so I knew it could be done! The rest was a gamble and to be honest I am actually quite surprised I did it because I'm not usually a risk taker! There wasn't really a process, I just knew that I wanted to do something I loved, and that was interiors related. I started looking for clients on Gumtree, Instagram, friends etc and was lucky enough to have been given a little bit of hope from a few people who let me into their homes and start working some magic.
When you were side hustling, how did you manage your time between your 9-5 and your hustle?
I worked insane hours post work and weekends to make it work. I sacrifiecd a lot I would get up early and do a couple of hours before work and once coming home from my 10-6 job I would work then as well. it was tough!
What is life like for you now that you're running your own business?
Amazing! Of course filled with huge highs & lows, stressful moments etc but it's all worthwhile when you reach new milestones.
How has your life been positively impacted by making this change to your life?
I have so much more freedom! I love how I can dictate my own lifestyle and if I want to take off an afternoon, or pop to the hairdressers on a random Tuesday, or take an impromptu holiday I can! It's so fulfilling. I've also loved the fact that my business has given other people full time careers - it's amazing to think that what I've created is giving other people something back too. I also love having a little team and seeing it grow.
What have been your biggest achievements?
Winning a blog award
We've been featured in every major news publication
I've been on Times Radio twice chatting about interiors
Getting my page views over 20k a month - not a lot compared to other bloggers but still decent
Gaining over 23k followers on Instagram
Having done campaigns with big dogs like MADE.COM, IKEA, Habitat etc
Seeing the business take great profits
Hosting sell out workshops
What are the challenges and how do you deal with them?
Challenges include financial stresses, like slow months and tax issues. Also some clients can be difficult, not willing to trust you, or nitpicking every item. Finding the perfect team has also been tricky, I’ve worked with people who have no motivation or care about the business, but luckily I’ve found the perfect combination of people now! I’ve dealt with all of that by getting help from my coach Lauren Leopold to gain a little perspective!
What have you learnt along the way?
To take risks
To be kind
To challenge yourself
To be open to others' ideas
To remember you aren't always right
What 3 tips would you give to people wanting to do the same thing as you?
Side hustle first to see if you have the motivation to make your own business work
Hire a good web designer as that makes a huge difference!
Don’t be disheartened or give up when you have a lack of clients or slow months - it ebbs and flows.
How has having a business coach helped you along the way?
So much so. Lauren has given me wider eyes to see stuff with, challenged my views and opinions but importantly freed me from a few blocks in terms of reaching bigger goals and financial targets I never thought I could reach!
Are you feeling unfulfilled in your job like Athina was and want some clarity to change career? Or maybe you already run a side hustle or business and want to take it to the next level. Either way, book in a free discovery call to see if we vibe!
Career Change & Business Coach and Side Hustle Queen
Hi, I'm Lauren. I burnt out, hit rock bottom and used the experience to manifest my dream life. I now help passionate and ambitious women change career, start side hustles and grow businesses. I'm living proof that you can - and deserve to - have it all.
Career Change Coaching