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Interview with Dr Stephanie Schuttler

Image of Stephanie Schuttler with an elephant

Blogger @ Fancy Scientist and Consultant @ Beautycounter

What does an average day in the life look like for you?

9-5 I work as a wildlife biologist at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences on the eMammal, a citizen science camera trapping project. I specifically work with K-12 teachers and try to get them to incorporate it as part of their science curriculum. Students learn science by doing science; they set camera traps, identify the animals they photograph, and analyze data. We use the data to answer larger scientific questions about mammals. On an average day, I am usually writing papers, analyzing data, looking over species identifications, or emailing participants. At night and on the weekends, I write blog posts for fancyscientist.com and talk to people about Beautycounter.

What is your PhD about?

I studied the social structure of African forest elephants and used their dung as a source of DNA. I wanted to see if groups were larger than those observed in the field and if they were based on kin.

What advice would you give others looking at starting a side hustle?

That it’s fun and it’s nice to give your brain a break from academic thinking and instead work more on the creative side of things. Also, some of them are really easy. For Beautycounter, I was shocked by how easy it was. Beautycounter is direct sales, not a MLM, but I thought it was one. I was looking for a scam, but there wasn’t any. I’ve found it to be such an easy and fun way to generate some extra income.

Tell us about yourself.

I never thought I wanted to be an entrepreneur because my dad owns a jewelry store and I always saw him working hard for himself. Ironically, being a scientist is a lot like being an entrepreneur; your research is like your business and you can always be working on it. I think it’s funny now that I am considering doing blogging full time as a business.

What is your side hustle?

I’m a blogger and a consultant for Beautycounter. As a blogger, I write posts on wildlife, conservation, and sustainable living. I earn income by working to have an affiliate partnership with companies and/or products that I believe in. Therefore, I earn a small commission if you click on one of my links and it costs you nothing. I strongly believe that the products and companies we buy from is casting a vote in the kind of world we want to live in. I promote companies and products that care about the environment and people. One of my affiliates is Beautycounter, a certified B corporation that has the safest personal care and beauty products out there. I was shocked to learn that the USA only bans 30 ingredients while the EU bans ~1400. My mother passed away from cancer and I don’t like to take risks with me health and therefore I promote Beautycounter which bans 1500 ingredients. For more information, read 17 reasons I switched To Beautycount skincare. Soon, I plan on writing an eBook and a traditional book.

What would you do differently if you had your time over?

I would do more research on the type of job I wanted when I graduated and made sure I met those requirements when I was in graduate school. Everyone said you would not be pigeon-holed, but I was and the job market is so competitive that not meeting a few qualifications can easily exclude you from a job. This blog post sums it up well: Advice for a career in wildlife biology.

How does your PhD help you in your side hustle?

My PhD gave me the ability to read the scientific literature to understand the scientific process and be able to research topics well. 

Why did you start your side hustle?

I started my blog because I love talking about my research to people. As a scientist, we write papers for scientific journals, that only handfuls of professionals read. But as a blogger, you can write on the same research and reach thousands of readers. I am driven by conservation and for my Ph.D. I studied forest elephants because they are an endangered species that needs our help. Although my research was important, it would not help stop poaching, which is the main reason why forest elephants are going extinct. However, by spreading the news about the poaching epidemic, this could potentially impact whether people purchase ivory or not. As I started to write more, I wanted to spread more and more messages of conservation and how people can make small decisions that over time and with enough people have a big impact.

I decided to monetize off of my blog through affiliate partnerships because I believe that the choices we make as consumers have a profound impact on the environment. By providing people with information on topics and guiding them on the right companies and products, we can shift where they are spending their money and hopefully over time give less power to companies and products that have harmful environmental implications. I also love writing and as a wildlife biologist, I make little income, so that is also an incentive. I started my Beautycounter side hustle because I was already talking to so many people about how much I loved Beautycounter and posting about the company on my social media pages. I decided to become a consultant to because getting the message of safer beauty out to the world is extremely important to me. I don’t view it as selling; I view it as educating and encouraging people to replace their products with safer ones. Again, as a scientist, I don’t make much and Beautycounter helps fund my professional development, such as conference travel.

How much did it cost you to get started?

Blogging and having an affiliate partnership is a low investment in money. It costs a monthly fee to have a website and a yearly fee for a domain name. Most affiliate partnerships are free. Beautycounter is $98 to join as a consultant.

How can our readers find out more about your side hustles?

They can go to fancyscientist.com (or stephanieschuttler.com). This post explains my affiliate link partnership and this blog explains why I love Beautycounter and became a consultant

Facebook: @FancyScientist, Instagram: @FancyScientist, Twitter: @FancyScientist, Pinterest: @FancyScientist

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