Here’s Some Advice On Turning Your Life Passion Into A Job, According To Someone Who’s Done It

Jenna Holmes is the walking definition of a multi-hyphenate. As the creative director of P Mami Industries, Jenna’s Instagram bio is full of links to her business babies, the eldest of which is Plant Mama

Described as “curated plant chaos”, Plant Mama executes and designs aesthetically-pleasing plant services. From commercial plant installations for the likes of Lululemon, to indoor and outdoor landscaping, you’ve probably seen Jenna’s leafy creations on your Pinterest boards and Instagram feed. 

After stretching her green thumb for a couple of years, Jenna felt her business brain itching once more.

Pasta Club, launched in 2019, is a communal (yet private) dining experience that focuses on seasonally sourced produce in a “unique and ever-moving location”. It’s a menu-less pasta party that sees Jenna collaborate with chefs and has even resulted in her being hailed as the Pasta Mama of Melbourne. 

When she’s not curating plants or pasta, Jenna is sharing her business wisdom amongst creative women with Sheilas Club

Before launching her own businesses? Jenna was an Uber driver, P.E teacher, and waitress. 

All of this is to say that Jenna is busy. But how did she get here and is it always a good idea to monetise your hobbies? Especially when we’re trying to reject hustle culture? We spoke to Jenna herself to investigate. 

Hey, Jenna! With so many titles under your belt, how do you describe yourself? 

I’m the creative director and founder of P Mami industries and a “slashy”. But all of those titles are because I have ADHD. I realised I have a six-year interest loop. I was a high school PE teacher for six years, and then I did Plant Mama for six years. And then Pasta Club and now I’m opening a sandwich shop up in Byron Bay. 

A lot of other people would get maybe overwhelmed by jumping in and out of different roles, but I kind of feel like that’s why I’m still in them.

As a person with ADHD, how do you balance your attention span and creativity? 

I’m naturally quite a disorganised person and until I hired people, which was only about a year ago, I was literally just holding it together in terms of the business and pulling it off. Whereas now, because I’ve hired people, they take care of the shop, the emails, admin, the pays, like everything. And so you’re definitely seeing me at the end of the pendulum of all this hard work where I can do that. But five years before that it was a struggle.

What I’ve learned is that as a creative yes, you can be spontaneous and a bit ‘all over the shop’ but when running a business, you can’t do that. People need their emails responded to, people need to get paid. 

What are some of the tools that you’ve used to grow your business?

As well as my Instagram account, no lie, the Microsoft Surface Pro has changed my life. You can’t draw on a computer so when I got the Surface it just saved all of the time of painting on a canvas then waiting for it to dry and then taking a photo, and changing the pixels to convert it into digital. 

I would say that you genuinely can’t tell the difference between the drawings that I’ve painted and the ones I’ve drawn [on the Microsoft Surface], because digitally they come out the same. Also, if I’ve got to go to meetings, I’m so visual that people send me blueprints and I can actually detach the screen and be like, ‘Okay, so this is the wall and I would put plants here,’ because clients need to see something visual and I can’t use their blueprints so I like something I can sketch on. 

Obviously, a lot of your businesses have begun as passion projects. Do you think it’s a good idea to monetise your hobbies?

You’d think I’d naturally say yes, but I feel like it depends on what the hobby is, and where it fits in your life, and if you’re willing to give up your job. You also have to be willing to risk losing the hobby. I love Plant Mama but I got over it because I was like ‘I’ve done the same plant jobs over and over’. 

So, if your hobby is something that you can turn into a full-fledged business that can make you money, and that isn’t going to ruin the thing you love then 100%. Because you’re doing something that you love and making money.

You also need to ask yourself, ‘Is my hobby a viable business that people need?’ And if it’s not, it should stay in the hobby category. You can do stuff outside of work that gives you pleasure and joy and happiness.

If people have assessed that and still really want to take the leap, what’s your advice for those wanting to turn their passion projects into a full blown business?

I think the first thing would be to consider finances. If you’ve got a huge amount of savings you feel like you can live off to start the business, that’s great. However, don’t go in blindly thinking that you can start a business and pay rent, and expenses on top of that. Because everything you make in a business has to go back into growing it like buying fliers, a website, insurance etc. 

Also, swallowing some level of pride that you might need to go work somewhere that you don’t want to work. I was an Uber driver on Saturday nights in my mid 20s when all my friends were going out in Melbourne and having fun. But that’s just what I had to do to keep the business going.

Lastly, ask people to help you! I’d ask friends, ‘Can you come and help me with this install?’ and also ask people to support you in your personal life and communicate to people in your inner sanctum that you will need help when building a business. Just play to your strengths and for an ADHD person, when we’re not in the right career, it’s like minus two people but when we’re in the right career it’s like plus five people.

So many words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing, Jenna.

No worries! Thank you.