Taking Notes is an ongoing series, powered by 7115 Paper Goods, where we highlight entrepreneurs we admire and learn about how they stay productive.
Kristine Claghorn is the queen of side-hustles. By day she works at a marketing agency as a Creative Producer, making engaging and "thumb-stopping photo and video content" for clients like Disney, Hubert's Lemonade and Diet Coke. After hours you can find her dreaming up ethereal lunar inspired watercolor paintings or formulating subtle fragrances with earthy notes which are stocked at some of our favorite independent boutiques such as Local Nomad and Goodwin. We speak with Kristine about the fulfillment that comes from wearing multiple hats and how she manages to fuel her creativity.
Interview by Shirley Cai | Photos by Kristine Claghorn
As a Creative Producer, your role involves a lot of planning and behind-the-scenes work to create engaging videos and imagery. No doubt you’ve got a big to-do list with every project. How do you organize your thoughts and stay on top of your tasks?
That’s such a great question! Since moving to LA in 2011, I’ve worked remotely (mostly from home). That has been such an important factor in how I’ve been able to create and sustain self discipline when it comes to staying on top of all of my tasks. I’m a HUGE fan of to-do lists and I keep notebooks around me wherever I go. I also use Google docs/cal/etc… religiously. One of my favorite ways to organize my thoughts if I’m really stuck is to take a quick five minute shower or go on a walk around the block. That usually loosens up the stress and allows me to think clearly.
By day you’re a Creative Producer at a marketing agency. By night you’re a watercolor artist and fragrance maker. Most people struggle to find the time to juggle just their full-time job, but you have two side hustles running alongside your day job. What made you decide to pursue your side hustles?
If I were to only wear the hat of a creative producer at my full time job, I would go crazy. That’s definitely the most straight forward answer I can give, haha! I need to have outside interests that don’t require me to sit in front of a computer screen 24/7 and that’s why I started to paint again (I used to paint a lot in high school/college). I love being hands-on, so creating fragrances and painting with watercolors really helps me get into the flow. I’ve also been starting to shoot and edit short-form videos and have been loving it so far!
What does a typical day look like for you?
If it’s a work day, I start my day by cuddling with my cat and partner in bed before doing a short little meditation session on Headspace. Then, I’ll make myself a little something for breakfast and hop onto my computer to start the work day. My workday consists of a lot of calls with my team/clients and I’m usually ideating on one concept or another. It’s pretty hectic right now, so after work I try to decompress the best I can before jumping into working on my personal projects. I usually work a bit before I eat dinner and then I’ll watch a movie or read a book after to enjoy the rest of the night.
What’s your secret to finding the time to work on all the projects you work on?
Make time. If you have something you want to do, you just have to make it happen no matter what. Use your free time to create something you’re passionate about and you’ll get used to using that time for the side hustles. I will say though that it’s also really important to take care of yourself, so I always make sure to put that first.
Can you tell us a bit about the fragrances you create? What motivated you to start a fragrance line?
I am extremely sensitive to strong smells, so I haven’t been able to wear many perfumes/fragrances. They give me migraines! I love the simple natural scents of palo santo, cedarwood, etc… and was like “hm, I wonder if I could make something I could wear that wouldn’t hurt my head.” And that’s how it happened! I was visiting my family a couple years ago and just started mixing to see what worked together. I started to get compliments on how I smelled, so I decided to dive in deeper and create three that are very different. It’s fun to share them with others and I’ve learned that a lot of people are also super sensitive to smells. I’m glad I could create something that works for them too!
The artwork on the packaging of your fragrances is your own watercolor work. When it comes to painting do you approach these projects in the same way (and with the same workflow) as your videos or fragrances? Or is it different?
When it comes to painting, I like to approach it with zero expectation. I like to be fully present in the moment when painting and I don’t let myself get frustrated if the end product doesn’t turn out how I expected it to. I use it as more of a release than I do my other work.
When you feel inspired how do you record your thoughts and ideas?
I prefer writing by hand, so I like to keep notebooks/notepads on my desk, in my bag, next to my bed, etc… When I write something down, I feel like my brain works in a different way than when I type it up. It also helps me remember things!
What are three things that you look to when you need to get the creative juices flowing?
- Nature is definitely my #1 inspiration. I love going on roadtrips and hiking around new spots. Yosemite is one of my all time favorite places for that. The smells, the sights, the sounds… They’re so rejuvenating.
- I’m also a huge fan of talking ideas out with friends. I love meeting up and brainstorming with all of the creatives in my life!
- FILMS. I love watching films of all kinds! I watch a lot of beautiful old films on Filmstruck. I also love watching documentaries and learning about new subjects. There are so many good ones out there! My not so guilty pleasure is that I do watch FRIENDS constantly and it’s so brainless that sometimes it helps my brain relax.
What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned from juggling your job with your side hustles?
I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is not to wait until there’s time to do something. I was at my last job for four years before I really carved out time to create on my own. I didn’t realize how much it would help me mentally! I think it’s also really important to surround yourself with positive, supportive people. It makes it a lot easier to do a billion things at once when you can talk things out with loved ones.