The Side Hustle: Honest Hustle

Brimming with energy and ideas, Mariangelica Forero is a local product designer with years of experience working in Kitchener-Waterloo’s tech industry. She is also a well-rounded digital content creator, serial entrepreneur and mom. 

In the summer of 2019, during her maternity leave, Forero combined her multiplicity of talents to launch her passion-driven side business: Honest Hustle. 

“I offer creative services. Everything from photography, videography, brand and website design and more to entrepreneurs or, specifically, to honest entrepreneurs, as I like to say. There is so much more to people than what they do and that’s what I try to highlight,” Forero said.

Honest Hustle aims to help others move their businesses forward with an intriguingly personal approach that adds immeasurable value to any brand. Forero sees ‘honest entrepreneurs’ as willing to be authentic and vulnerable with their stories.

“We know that people like to buy from who they know, like and trust. How does an audience really get to know and feel connected to a brand? Only through storytelling … that is my passion and it is rooted in everything I do,” Forero said. 

Working with small-to-medium business owners in a variety of industries, Forero serves each client on a case-by-case basis from this angle of humanness and authenticity. 

“All of my clients are in different places in their journey and have very different needs. I always start by sitting down with an entrepreneur, learning what they’re about - from there I work to create a script [for a brand narrative] or an idea of how we can tell their story in a meaningful, concise way,” Forero said.

In this sense, Honest Hustle’s brand emphasizes the same vulnerability and genuineness which she teases out of her clients to tell their unique stories.

“A lot of the time, entrepreneurs don’t realize that they already have … resources in their personal stories that they can pull from to connect with people. My core messaging is all about letting people know that their stories have value and that you can use them strategically to grow your business,” Forero said.

“I believe that sharing openly is the best thing you can do - the therapy of community and helping one another is very powerful.”

Committed to actively engaging with her audience, Forero also produces free educational content accessible through her Instagram page and website. This has included social media marketing tips and a Survival Guide, The Quarantine Edition in response to the current global pandemic. 

“I base my content and offerings around what people ask me the most …I try to observe what people are going through and identify their pain points. It really inspires me to start writing and help people [move] their businesses forward,” Forero said.

In terms of juggling the different facets of her life and career, Forero explained that pursuing her side hustle helps to keep her balanced.

“What it comes down to is that I love what I’m doing [with Honest Hustle] and it energizes me. I’ve essentially turned my hobbies into my craft, so my work really excites me.” 

“At the same time, I don’t want to romanticize the idea of working around-the-clock … everyone has a different version of their hustle and it doesn’t have to look like mine” Forero added.

As someone who has always been driven by multiple passions, Forero has a unique understanding for those who may have been told they have to narrow their focus to be successful, even though they had a variety of goals and visions.

“We’re so accustomed to our identities becoming intertwined with our job title or our roles in life. A lot of us try to become one thing, and the biggest piece of advice I can give is that you don’t have to [choose],” Forero said.

“You’re allowed to be good at … many things. At the end of the day, trying something new is never a waste of time and your success comes from the amount of passion you have towards what you’re doing. The biggest thing that shifted everything for me was realizing that I didn’t have to pick one thing and that nobody else does either.”