Tell us a bit about yourself and your side hustle.
My name is Vaibhav Bhanot and I’m an Experience Designer at Wunderman Thompson, New York. I am always curious about the evolution of human behavior and often experiment with different ideas – all of which have led me to find comfort in ambiguity. My side hustle - Linkit.black (@linkitblack) - is a collaborative effort by Mo Osunbor, Nick Elliott, Alex Reinoso and me that attempts to disrupt the current landscape of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) recruitment to present an opportunity to those who are underepresentated. If you’re in the creative industry, you can use your personal platforms (LinkedIn, portfolio and social accounts) to redirect a recruiter towards talent that often gets overlooked.
What inspired you to start your side hustle? How long have you been doing it?
As a part of our work in the creative industry we constantly apply problem solving techniques. We figured, it is not only about having uncomfortable conversations with people, but also designing solutions to it that mattered. And that led to the four of us hopping onto a virtual call during the pandemic to create LinkIt.Black. The thought was simple – we cannot just point fingers at organizations for isuues relating to representation; and the status quo needs to be challeneged. What if we adjusted the narrative and took charge as individuals to solve human problems and bring about change in the smallest and simplest ways? We started working on LinkIt.Black in June 2020 with the intention of creating something that people could make their own.
Does your side hustle benefit the community in any way? If not, do you plan on using it to give back at some point?
The concept of LinkIt.Black is intentionally designed to be driven by the community and for the community. We do not want to become gatekeepers in any form and want people to use our assets, templates and files to make it their own. The more participation we get, the more conversations start to build, leading up to actionable outcomes wherein recruiters are able to find and give opportunities to talent that often gets overlooked. Additionally, we also want to increase visibility for those who curate and manage lists of underrepresentated talent, including, but definitely not limited to the ones mentioned on LinkIt.Black. It’s a win-all situation with the least amount of effort.
What motivates you to keep hustling?
Keeping it simple and creating work that positively impacts humans is what motivates me. I will not deny that the struggle is real and we are living in the era of immersive-distraction that makes it even more difficult to hear or be heard. Also, sometimes even the greatest of ideas fail due to a lack of context. All of this challenges me to keep hustling and deliver work that is meaningful and sustainable in any given environment.
Were there any specific skills you needed to start this project? Has your day job helped in developing those skills?
Most definitely, our skills and experiences helped us shape the idea and bring it to life. Art and creative direction, copywriting, production, user experience, social media, marketing and tech are some of the tasks we are constantly involved in. Fortunately, the four of us have prior experience in most of those domains (some more than the other). And yes, I believe all kinds of learnings throughout our career configure the way we think. Personally, my role as an experience designer helped me navigate the path towards a human-centered approach and mindset for LinkIt.Black
Does your side hustle benefit your day-to-day work?
Being in the creative industry made me understand and appreciate the power of perspective in relation to context and culture. The more globalized we get, the more imperative it is to address the cultural framework and relatability for a consumer. Our industry needs that new perspective, now more than ever. I feel positive that LinkIt.Black will be a huge benefit to everyones day-to-day work.
What have you learned since you began your side hustle? Has it evolved it evolved the years?
One of my main realizations is that everyone wants to make a difference, but it takes a lot of motivation to actually get most of them to do it. As LinkIt.Black is in its initial stages we are continuously evolving and trying to make it more seamless. Over the past few weeks we have seen some really powerful and creative ways in which people have adapted the idea on their platforms and we share that as inspiration to encourage others as well.
Is there any advice you’d give to young creatives & executives on how to pursue their passion projects on the side?
From my experiences I have learnt two things.
1. Time won’t necessarily be a constraint if you have the willingness and commitment to fulfill a passion.
2. You do not need a budget. There are tons of free resources out there to get your dream project to fly in the direction you want.
It is all about continuously learning while staying focused on the end goal.