Tell us a bit about yourself and your side hustle.
I am a commercial director based in Copenhagen and my side hustle is rebuilding and renovating my early 19th-century house. When my wife and I bought it, it hadn’t been renovated in 80 years, so it needed all the TLC we could muster. Instead of buying new materials, I looked into sourcing original building materials from the period. We needed about 7,000 bricks to build a planned extension, so as you can imagine, that takes a while -- and a decent amount of research -- to find. This turned out to be a quest through industrial history, and into regions of the country, we had never experienced before. We drove through the countryside visiting all kinds of people. They shared stories about the origins of building materials as well as their personal stories of the family farm, the closed brickwork now functioning as storage, and a demolished factory, the former pride of a local community. Finally, we were lucky enough to discover an old barn built in 1914 that was falling down and about to be demolished. The color scheme of the bricks was great, but it took a while to have the bricks removed without being damaged, and then cleaned before being ready to lay.
What inspired you to start your side hustle? How long have you been doing it?
Originally, I chose the up-cycling path for aesthetic reasons. The patina, quality, and craftsmanship of old materials like brick and wood are outstanding. Similar to a commercial shoot, there’s a limit to my budget, so it is a matter of finding the right tools and a creative approach to making it happen without cutting any corners. I have been renovating for 10 years now. Slowly but surely, my skills developed, and along with that, my ambitions. I keep finding new projects and challenges and I’m starting to realize I’ll probably never finish.
Does your side hustle benefit the community in any way? If not, do you plan on using it to give back at some point?
It was not my original intention, but it turned out to be a very sustainable project as well. An example: for every brick re-used, 0.5 kg (11 lbs) of CO2 is saved compared to using a new one. And now I have gone slightly mad, not only reusing as much as possible but also looking into original techniques like chemical-free painting using linseed oil and natural pigments. It is an old technique that has been proven and used up until the 1950s when chemicals became the miracle ingredients in everything from food to industrial products. Currently, such old techniques are slowly returning, and there are entire subcultures out there dedicated to this kind of renovation and rebuilding. Hopefully, the trend will grow in the future as more people realize the value of reusing old materials and reviving past techniques, and at the same time, protecting the environment.
What motivates you to keep hustling?
I can’t stop. It balances out my occupation as a director. Much of my day-to-day work is screen work. While pitching, pre-producing, shooting, and post-producing, I am always looking at a screen. My side hustle allows me to use both my hands and brain, connecting my mind and body in a very satisfying way. It simply feels right.
Were there any specific skills you needed to start this project? Has your day job helped in developing those skills?
I learned my skills down the road, like directing. Once you get started, you don’t think too much. You imagine the result, but not the work it takes to get there. Suddenly, you are in the middle of it and realize the crazy amount of time you have to spend in order to get it right. And it is still not quite perfect. But that is part of the beauty of it, really. You never stop improving your skills. And your standards seem to raise with your skill level.
Does your side hustle benefit your day-to-day work?
It improves my stamina and sense of aesthetics. Once I spend time doing something, no matter if it is my job or my side hustle, I always make a serious effort to get it just right. To make my mark.
What have you learned since you began your side hustle? Has it evolved over the years?
There is a long road ahead of you, so you might as well be patient and enjoy the journey. Make yourself a good cup of coffee and try to whistle while you work.
Is there any advice you’d give to young creatives & executives on how to pursue their passion projects on the side?
Planning will only take you so far. You have to get started and make adjustments down the road. You can’t avoid picking up some kind of wisdom or a useful tool or meeting new people who’ll inspire you to move further and in new directions. Thinking about it, a lot of my childhood friends always talked about making films. My colleagues are different. They all stopped talking and started shooting at some point. In that perspective, a side hustle is no different. You either talk about it or get busy doing it.