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Cate May: Supermarket Buying Manager & Founder of Cate Creates Hand-Lettering Business

My second guest on the series is Cate May. Cate has a successful career as a Buying Manager for a large supermarket chain whilst also running her hand-lettering business @catecreates_ on the side. Cate proves that it is possible to have the best of both worlds: a day job that she loves which challenges her, and a successful creative business on the side.

Cate has always had a creative flare and set up her first side hustle selling earrings in sixth form at school. Cate studied Spanish and International Management at Bath University, during which she had a year abroad studying and working in Barcelona for a textile company. Her passion for retail grew from there.


After university Cate joined a supermarket graduate scheme as a Buyer and has stayed at that company ever since. She has moved around in different buying roles from beer to food to go. Her job is really varied and challenging, and she loves it.

In 2016 Cate started experimenting with hand-lettering which she learnt on instagram and by attending a calligraphy workshop. She set up her instagram account @catecreates_ and her business launched organically when people following her started asking her to make things for them. From there, she set up her Etsy shop and started selling personalised notebooks and cards.


Balancing her time between a full time job and a business has always been a challenge, but something she is mindful of and has put processes in place to support her with that. For example, she's invested in digital kit to make her business far more scalable and cost effective, and does greeting card licensing on Thortful which requires a lot more designing up front, to help balance her time.

A couple of Cate's business highlights to date have been the launch of her happy mail during lockdown at the start of 2020 and her 'spotty botty' personalised Christmas baubles. Also attending her first Christmas market in 2019 organised by her business network The Mama Hive.

"I get to write lovely words that mean things to people"


Cate shares some of her tips for anyone looking to start up their own side hustle:

  • Don't stop nailing your day job whilst you're setting up your side hustle, as they're paying your bills (even if you do plan to fully transition away from it eventually)!

  • Find a side hustle that makes you smile.

  • Make sure you find something that suits the amount of time you have to dedicate to it - if you're time poor, can you automate things?

  • Be mindful of burnout - it's a real thing!

  • Join a community (e.g. Holly & Co or The Mama Hive) or hire a coach so you can ask "silly" questions and bounce ideas around.

  • Start something with some correlation to your day job so that you don't have to learn everything from scratch.

  • When you do need to learn things, there's lots of great resources online such as Skill Share.

  • Say yes and figure it out later, as long as it suits your business and your brand.

This week Cate launched the 3rd series of her very popular happy mail (image below) which is available on her Etsy shop here for orders!

To watch the full interview on IGTV click here.


To find out more about Cate and the resources she mentions:


Instagram: @catecreates_ get in touch directly for personalised orders.


Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CateCreatesUK


Thortful: https://www.thortful.com/creator/catecreates


Holly & Co https://holly.co & @holly.co


The Mama Hive www.themamahive.com & @themamahive


Skillshare www.skillshare.com




#SheCanDoIt #Creative #Sidehustle #Entrepreneur #Handlettering #Etsy #Thortful

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