Emma McLeavy, owner of Jo & Co Hampers

If Emma McLeavy has time for a side hustle, so do you

6 min read
Sage Becker

For more than 10 years as a commercial banker, mainly in the small business sector, Emma McLeavy helped other entrepreneurs get their dream careers off the ground.  

Then in 2020, after losing her beloved mum to cancer, Emma made the life-changing decision to launch her own side hustle — the bespoke hamper design service Jo + Co Hampers & Floral Design 

“I had this new perspective on life,” Emma told GoDaddy.

I just decided that I wanted to do something I was passionate about.

While Emma’s decision may sound courageous, the hamper designer extraordinaire and aspiring florist is not actually alone.  

Wrapped hamper ready for delivery

New research from GoDaddy reveals that one in four side hustlers start a business in order to launch a dream career.  

“I had some self-doubt,” Emma confesses. “I think they call it imposter syndrome. But I think if you’re passionate about something, you just have to go for it.  

“I’m not afraid of failure and I’m prepared to work hard for what I want — my parents taught me that. I have carried it with me from childhood.” 

The GoDaddy research also found that: 

  • 20% of side hustlers set up their ventures because they spotted a gap in the market 
  • 17% launched their gig because they wanted to achieve more flexibility in their lives 
  • 22% established their side hustle to earn a little extra income 

Emma can also relate to the first two of these motivating factors. The idea for her business was first seeded when she tried to send a hamper of local produce to a friend and couldn’t find a local company to do it.  

Related: The entrepreneur’s guide to smart product design 

A family-friendly alternative

The entrepreneur is also a mum to three young boys, meaning flexibility is essential to her life. 

“I always seem to have a toddler at my feet whilst I’m working,” Emma told us. “I’ve learnt to be super productive at nap times and at night, which allows me to be present when they’re with me. Often, I get my kids to ‘help’ as much as I can with packing.  

Emma packing hampers with her newborn son

“Sometimes I have had to sacrifice a clean house for a few hampers, but I’m OK with that. It’s a very nice balance, the beauty of working for yourself, from home.  

“Oh, and I have my super helpful husband who is a very hands-on dad. That helps beyond measure.” 

Related: 25 side hustle jobs to make extra money

The pay is good, too 

On the extra income front, GoDaddy’s research found that the average Australian side hustler made $21,000 in annual revenue from their side venture. This while putting in an average of 12 hours extra work a week.

Emma’s own business is going from strength to strength itself.  

“I’m only just starting to make profit and I still feel like I’m in the build phase,” Emma told us. “But I have big plans for it.

“I plan to incorporate my floristry, which should only make it more successful. So, yes, big plans.” 

Products people want to buy 

There’s no denying that Emma’s passion shines through in her products. Every different hamper in her range is uniquely named, hand packed and filled with meticulously sourced local products.  

These range from: 

  • Artisanal gin produced in Emma’s local Southern Highlands  
  • Wine and olive oil made on the PepperGreen Estate near to where Emma lives 

When pressed to choose a single favourite product, Emma just manages to narrow it down to two. She told us: 

“There’s a box I have named ‘Jump for Joy’ to honour my late Mum, Michelle. It includes a coffee mug, coffee, wine and chocolate — all the guilty pleasures!

"The name? When my siblings and I were kids and my Mum wanted to cheer us up, she would pick us up under the armpits and make us jump until we laughed while saying “Jump for joy.”

Contents of Emma’s Jump for Joy hamper

“A close second would be ‘Peace Lily Perfection,’ which is just that, a peace lily, wrapped beautifully with a big black ribbon around its waist.  

“I have an obsession with indoor plants. It’s one of my favourite gifts to give and receive!” 

Rave reviews 

The positive reviews are currently flooding in for Jo + Co.  

“I’ve had plenty of great reviews and many words of encouragement and positivity after people have used my service. 

However my favourite compliment is repeat business. 

“Lots of local (and some non-local) businesses now use my hampers as ‘settlement gifts.’ You can’t beat that as a compliment!  

“There is one customer in particular who has used me to send a different hamper on four occasions to his parents. It’s a lovely feeling.” 

Related: How to get feedback from customers 

A good promotions plan 

Jo and Co Hampers and Floral Design website

Emma has also received a raft of positive feedback about her website, which she built herself using GoDaddy’s Online Store

GoDaddy’s research revealed that: 

  • Just 31% of Australian side hustlers have a website for their business 
  • 48% use social media to promote their side hustles 
  • 29% have a marketplace listing 

Emma herself feels her website plays a key role in her side hustle’s success and said setting it up was easier than she ever expected it to be.  

“It was so much easier than I thought,” she said.  

I remember setting up my website and waiting for my first order.  

“I wasn’t even sure if I’d know when my first order came through. But when it came, I got a text message and it was the best feeling.

There’s an app too and I pretty much do everything on that, including uploading products and high-res images. It’s so user friendly.” 

Related: How to build an online business in a weekend 

Emma with her three young sons at home

Why not start your dream career? 

While the future looks bright for Emma, it’s also glowing for side hustlers across Australia.

So, what parting advice does Emma have for any wannabe dreamers out there? 

She said: “Starting your own business is daunting and at times the goal seems unreachable. But if you’re passionate enough about it, you’ve just got to start.”

Antenna, an independent consumer research agency, conducted an online AntennaPoll survey of n=2114 side hustlers across Australia, United Kingdom, United States and Canada on behalf of GoDaddy. The survey was conducted between 14th April and 26th April 2023.

The survey data collection was national and respondents were sourced using an accredited online research access panel. Data was weighted for representation against country census data.

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