Meet Trisha Sakhuja-Walia. She’s the founder and CEO of BrownGirlMagazine.com, a website focused on sharing stories from South Asian women to build community and empower those within it. We spoke with Trisha about what it’s like to be a ‘slashie’ and why it’s become her mission to inspire others.
How I got started…I became a slashie unintentionally when I started to pursue writing for BrownGirlMagazine.com as a side hustle while in college. For more than five years, I wrote, edited, and managed contributors as a passion project, not realizing that one day I would quit the side hustle to take full ownership of the company, and eventually build a mission-driven ecosystem that publishes user-generated content, hosts community-driven events, and develops culturally driven products.
Slashies are…Generally, members of the millennial demographic who choose to include various ‘side hustles’ in their professional titles to which they devote their time — in addition to their nine-to-five. Our community thrives when more creative minds and independently-led companies join the conversation, and that’s why we ourselves are slashies. We are a group of South Asian Slashies who celebrate "non-traditional" career paths and seek to redefine professional success.
To prepare for this career, I was…Intentional and resourceful when moving from task to task and role to role.
I knew it was time to make my side hustle my main when…The original founding team of BrownGirlMagazine.com was ready to part ways with it. I understand why they made that decision, it aligned with their lives, but I was just getting started. I didn't know anything about running a company but I knew there was a gap in the market that BGM was filling.
My starting salary and how it’s grown…After years of pursuing BrownGirlMagazine.com as a side hustle, it was becoming too daunting and overwhelming. I knew the only way we would see exponential growth is if I left my steady job and stable income at a reputable media company to pursue BrownGirlMagazine.com full-time. However, this meant I would grow the company bootstrapped for a few years with little to no salary. When I first went full-time, I wasn't able to pay myself much, all I cared about was paying the bills for the company and working towards making it sustainable. I share this a lot when telling folks to pursue their dreams, don't do it unless you have financial support, which I am lucky to have, or else you won't be able to give your dream the fullest chance it deserves.
Growing the business…To generate revenue, I instinctively focused on parts of the business I felt comfortable with — promoting small businesses by offering them a marketing package and hosting ticketed, sponsored events. Both helped us gain the momentum we needed to build our three-c model, which is content, community, and commerce. We are building an ecosystem that allows our readers to become consumers, who continue to make their way back in various ways by engaging with our campaigns, attending our events or purchasing a product from our collection of apparel and books.
How I spend a typical day…My day-to-day consists of managing 250-plus contributors, overseeing marketing and editorial content, business development, event planning, launching culturally relevant products including merch and books, raising capital for the company, and creating campaigns for hundreds of South Asian small businesses in addition to mainstream brands like Nordstrom, Adobe, and Meta.
The biggest challenges of being a slashie…Managing time and budget as a slashie is definitely one of the biggest challenges. The pro of being a slashie is a stable income from your full-time job. The downside of that is working early mornings or late nights to pursue your passion project. But when you quit your full-time to take the plunge with your side hustle, you'll have all the time in the world to make your dreams come true.
My advice for other slashies…It may seem like you're not giving your all into one aspect of your career, but in the long run, it'll pay off to have done it all, or at least have tried it all. Not having enough hours in the day to complete your full-time alongside your side hustle is definitely the biggest challenge, but reminding yourself why your passion project is worth it on a daily basis will help find the balance you're seeking.
The Slashie Summit is…A collaborative, inclusive, and immersive summit that empowers hustlers, doers, and creators to uncover their purpose and achieve financial independence despite the stigma behind creative aspirations. After two years of building our community digitally through SlashieConnects.com and just in time for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the value of human connection and supporting one another cannot be underestimated. This is why the theme for this year's summit is Community Over Competition. Our goal is to create a diverse, collaborative space amongst creatives and enthusiasts who want to be a part of the slashie movement.
Made for the AAPI community because…Given the traditional expectations of careers for South Asians and Asian Americans, Slashie Summit aims to inspire those in and beyond our network to value their creative pursuits beyond the status quo.
Psst...this interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
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