Coding & Gardening: Jenna Wengler, RAPP

I’m naturally curious, so it’s typical to find me on YouTube, teaching myself a new Photoshop skill or on W3Schools looking up code.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your side hustle.

I work as Associate Director of Global Communications at RAPP Worldwide and love the creative side of communications – social media, dabbling with development and design, etc. – when I have the opportunity. I’m naturally curious, so it’s typical to find me on YouTube, teaching myself a new Photoshop skill or on W3Schools looking up code. This curiosity bled outside of work and I eventually found myself helping small business owners with their marketing needs – from web design to graphic design and social media marketing.


What inspired you to start your side hustle? How long have you been doing it?

It wasn’t exactly something I set out to do, but it continues to be both a fun side project, and opportunity to grow. It all started when a family friend, who has an Education Consulting business, reached out and asked me to help revamp his website and launch on social media – and the hustle grew from there. Since then, I’ve helped a handful of clients get their business off the ground, gain exposure, increase sales or achieve other goals through marketing.


Does your side hustle benefit the community in any way? If not, do you plan on using it to give back at some point?

Indirectly, I believe it has! One client I work with is an organic beauty company, purely prana. The company gives 10% of their proceeds to a non-profit ACT4BaliDogs, which helps animals in need. I helped build purely prana’s branding and digital presence from the ground up -- from creating their website and designing the look and feel, to getting the word out on social media. Although I’m not giving back directly, I like to think that I played a part in making my clients’ ideas a reality, and, in turn, helped companies do some good in the world.

Another project, that is close to my heart, is for a community garden. Working on this project afforded me an opportunity to give back to the community I grew up in, by helping with their social media and graphic design efforts ­– from designing signs to building excitement and buy-in on social media. Over the last few years, the garden has turned into a beautiful part of the community – people trading tomatoes for cucumbers, teaching their kids where their food comes from and just enjoying a peaceful space.

Finally, a new project I’ve just begun, which benefits the community, is for the Point Lookout Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber works to improve the town of Point Lookout’s economic, civic and cultural well-being. I am helping to launch their social media channels, gain exposure and promote local businesses in the community. The goal is to retain Chamber members, so this initiative gives members a reason to renew their membership and helps the Chamber secure funds to improve the community.


What motivates you to keep hustling?

There are so many cool small businesses out there that don’t get the attention they deserve due to a lack of time, funds and resources, unlike their brand name competitors. It’s fun to come up with ways to help show off these niche businesses and watch them grow. Working with clientele that align with my own hobbies and interests -- yoga studios, jewelry companies, clean beauty brands, etc., makes it easy and fun for me to get creative. As a bonus, this side hustle helps fund one of my favorite hobbies – travel – and I have the pleasure of enjoying a free yoga class or bracelet every now and again. 


Were there any specific skills you needed to start this project? Has your day job helped in developing those skills?

As mentioned earlier, I’m curious by nature and, therefore, I enjoy finding new ways to improve RAPP’s marketing and communications initiatives. I’ve had some great opportunities at RAPP which have helped me evolve my skillset. One project that really pushed me was helping build an internal tool which enabled RAPP’s employees to support initiatives they feel close to with customized signature doodles. I had a hand in developing the tool and designing the doodles. These types of projects piqued my interest in design and pushed me to take a course in web design and graphic design which further improved my skills. 


Does your side hustle benefit your day-to-day work?

Yes, it works both ways! I’ve been able to apply skills I’ve learned outside of work to my day-to-day. I’ve definitely shifted my approach to projects, inside-and-out-of work, considering different perspectives and thinking outside of the box, thanks to all of the experiences, combined.


What have you learned since you began your side hustle? Has it evolved it evolved the years?

I’ve learned a lot, skills-wise, but one of the most meaningful lessons has been learning how to sell myself. While working at an agency, I have the support of my colleagues – but, for my side hustle, learning to be self-reliant and confident enough to take on challenging projects took practice. Over the years, this growing confidence in myself has allowed me to continue to take on more difficult projects and clients. I recently designed a website for a real estate brokerage that I would never have had the confidence to take on when I first started.


Is there any advice you’d give to young creatives & executives on how to pursue their passion projects on the side?

Fake it ‘til you make it… and if you enjoy it, it’s worth the time! From the beginning, I have always said yes to projects I find interesting, even if I am not sure where to begin. Google and YouTube are your best friend! If you want to learn something just say yes and you’ll figure the rest out as you go.