In this issue’s Side Hustle, we chatted to Nicky Swire, senior news & PR officer at Sheffield Hallam University, about her passion for animals and how she’s created a side business that leaves her customers paws-itively satisfied.

Finding a gap in the market to start a business of your own can be hard, but there’s a lot to be said about how your passion can be the real catalyst for your side hustle. This month’s Side Hustler, Nicky, identified her gap when lockdown struck and everyone became puppy mad, with a quarter of UK dogs being ‘pandemic pups’. With two-thirds of new dog owners now aged 18 to 34, Nicky and her co-founder Becca created Queens of the Bone Age by tapping into consumer trends like veganism and personalisation.

Nicky was always interested in running her own business, with her PR and marketing skills coming in handy when she started her business with the help of her sister Becca in 2021. Queens of the Bone Age, their online pet ba(r)kery, specialises in plant-based treats for dogs.

From birthday doggy doughnuts and personalised biscuits to monthly subscription boxes, Queens of the Bone Age is taking the pet treat world by storm. Nicky prides herself on the high production standards of their products, being hand-made to order using human-grade, clean-label ingredients that are safe for dogs to consume.

We bet you’re wondering how Nicky manages to juggle this as well as her usual full-time job. Well, it might be even more of a surprise to learn that she is also a volunteer trustee and branch secretary for RSPCA Sheffield. With Nicky’s passion for animals, she truly believes in her side hustles, finding both her business and volunteering fulfilling and fun.

Nicky balances her extra-curricular passions with clear roles between her and Becca in their running of Queens of the Bone Age. That, and a 6am start every day ensures schedules are stuck to and a good work-life balance is met.

It might be fair to say though that Nicky’s life involves a lot of passion, empathy and compassion, with her love of animals being the real motivation behind her work.  The saying ‘If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’ comes to mind, with Nicky advising that doing something you enjoy won’t feel like work, encouraging any budding entrepreneurs thinking about starting a business to go for it.

Queens of the Bone Age was selected by Meta and Natwest business earlier this year as one of only a handful of female-founded start-ups to join the #SheMeansBusiness accelerator programme. Nicky credits the invaluable support that provides mentoring, networking and business support.