Martika Gregory and Bianca Li Channer are the founders of The Hustler’s Agenda, a personal productivity planner for anyone who is mapping out their life plan, from grand goals to the day-by-day play. Even if you aren’t in a creative industry or entrepreneurial, the planner allows anyone going from an ideation stage to outlining what the micro steps are that need to be taken over time to actualize what you want to do. “Being in an everything-digital era, it’s simplified as pen-to-paper, which is best for mapping and ideation,” explains Gregory. “It’s guided, but it’s not restricting. The Hustler’s Agenda features year/month/week plans, three-month vision plans, budget spreads, gratitude and project debrief logs all in a sleek, minimal layout that works in any environment.”

We chatted with the founders this week to find out more. 

SDTC: What did you do prior to co-founding The Hustler’s Agenda?

MG: I went to Sheridan College for Advertising and Marketing Communications, but I was really invested in photography. I spent a lot of time building my portfolio with conceptual and abstract photographic works, which were featured in a variety of art and photography shows in Toronto between 2014 and 2016. I pivoted from photography into set design. That felt natural to me because I was already designing and building sets for my own photoshoots; however, in my 9-5 life, I kept up with marketing roles and developed skills in marketing strategy, data analytics and project management. These skills have helped me with my role in The Hustler’s Agenda.

BLC: While completing my Bachelor of Design at OCAD in the last year, my design work leading out of school had a duality where, as a part-time student, I was pursuing roles for design as research within institutions, while also freelancing brand architecture, design, and creative direction/strategy for startups and artists within the Toronto music industry. Despite still being in my Advertising major, I was always entrepreneurial and planned on leaving school with a business started. I’ve had a couple creative business endeavours prior to The Hustler’s Agenda, and I really believe in just doing it and “failing fast” as long as it’s forward, with an emphasis on having a strong team/partnership. Martika and I are lucky to have a solid team.

Tell us about where the idea to start The Hustler’s Agenda came from, and how that idea came to fruition.

We met in 2014, after being part of The Remix Project within the same round. After getting to know each other better, we decided that it would be a good idea to try working on some experimental projects together. We named our creative partnership NONTRAST, under which all of our experiments would live.

Our first experiment ended up being The Hustler’s Agenda. It was born out of our personal need for visual ideation, organization and productivity across our own projects. We both had tried to find agendas and notebooks that not only had everything we needed in one place but also fit our personal aesthetic, and we didn’t find anything on the market. We’re both the type to hit the ground running once we have an idea we are passionate about, and that’s exactly what we did. We released the first edition of The Hustler’s Agenda in December 2017.

What have been the biggest challenges in getting The Hustler’s Agenda off the ground? 

The Hustler’s Agenda’s biggest challenge was self-funding and constantly testing the best way to reach our markets. A new challenge that most recently occurred was a copycat agenda we discovered in another country that’s being similarly marketed, which we found flattering. You are always going to encounter new challenges as a startup, and we’re learning how to navigate them as they arise. You have to trust your vision, and staying informed of what’s happening in your landscape is key.

What is your mantra these days?

Keep pushing through.

What advice/tips would you give to other women who are wanting to pull in more money but are unsure where to start and how to make it happen? What resources were helpful to you?

A side hustle is always worth trying. Approach pulling in more money as an experiment, and test out income opportunities before you fully invest in building a business around that idea. Do your research; be respectful of your time and others’ time; ask for what you want and approach things as a learning opportunity.

Our community has been our best resource, as well as seeking out specialists where we needed support. Talk to people who are experts in their realm, and keep testing what/who works.