How She Was Able To Leave Her Finance Job After Earning $76,000 With Her Side Hustle

Ruta Drungilaite is the owner of A Twist of Date, a business that helps couples find new and fun date night ideas with digital offerings. She shares with us how she was able to earn enough to leave her finance job and what she did to get 5000 orders from 80 different countries!

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to start your business?

I’m Ruta, the owner and founder of A Twist Of Date, helping couples to mix up their date nights from the usual Netflix on the sofa routine. I worked in Finance for 7 years, since graduating university, and started this business as a ‘side-project’ while still at my 9-5.

The idea for A Twist Of Date came to me back in one of the Covid lockdowns in 2021. We live in London, so we are usually spoilt for choice of fun things to do. My fiance and I have done it all: hidden jazz clubs, secret cocktail bars, underground plays, wine and cheese tastings, comedy nights, horrible histories boat tour, escape room – style outdoor food maze, indoor rock climbing, quirky art installations, driving range and many more.

However, with lockdown all those choices were taken away. As a result, my fiance was finding it hard to come up with unique date ideas, while my own creativity was only propelled by it. It dawned on me that there must be other people out there for whom coming up with creative date ideas at home (not just a movie and dinner) is also a struggle. So I started to think about how I could solve that problem for couples.

2. Can you describe the initial steps you took to launch your business?

My first idea was to create date night boxes delivered to you, which would have everything set and planned for a romantic evening at home. I’ve launched cocktail making boxes on the 1st of February 2022 in time for Valentine’s day, followed by pottery workshop boxes later on. The boxes included playlists, all the tools to make cocktails/pottery creations, deep conversation starters and other activities designed to deepen the connection with your partner.

Couples loved these boxes and I had lots of good feedback, but making the boxes by hand has been extremely labour intensive, profit margins were razor thin/non-existent and the volume of sales was not as high as I had originally hoped for. Ultimately, the date box idea was not a scalable or financially viable one for me to continue.

6 months into my venture, I started selling a PDF of 110 date idea cards, which couples could download instantly and print out at home. As this idea went well, I pivoted my business away from physical date night boxes toward digital products, expanding my range with romantic board games, cold case files, escape rooms, conversation starters and more. That’s when my business started to really take off and I knew I was onto something.

Fast forward to 2024, I have quit my 9-5 in Finance, after receiving over 5,000 orders from 80 different countries, giving me reassurance that my idea solves a universal problem for couples.

3. How do your digital offerings enhance date nights compared to more traditional methods?

Many couples have busy lifestyles and demanding jobs, which makes it hard to find time for planning date nights that aren’t just booking a restaurant or flicking on another movie.

I take away the pain of planning thoughtful and unique activities, as my digital products are essentially close to ‘zero-effort’ to set up. Couples can download and print my date nights and have a few hours of fun activities at their fingertips in minutes.

4. What platforms or tools do you use in your business?

I use lots of different tools, but the main ones are:

  • Shopify for my website
  • Capcut for editing all the videos
  • Canva for creating digital products
  • Instagram and TikTok for marketing

5. Can you describe your marketing strategy and the most effective channel you use to promote your business?

My core marketing tools that drive the majority of my sales are TikTok and Instagram, where I create organic valuable content for my audience (couples in long term relationships/married couples). I provide value by sharing countless unique date ideas that are often not directly related to the products I sell. This way, I position myself as a ‘go-to’ person for date ideas, which builds trust and credibility with my audience.

6. How do you attract and retain customers in a niche market like date night planning?

My saveable/shareable content on social media plays a ‘top of the funnel’ role, attracting couples to follow my page, find out more about my brand and the awesome date nights I create, leading many to subsequently purchase my products. I offer a ‘100% happiness guarantee’ to my customers and always go the extra mile to ensure each person has a 5 star experience with my brand, which plays a key role in getting repeat customers.

7. What are some challenges you have faced with your business and how did you overcome them?

Building my first business has probably been the hardest thing I’ve done in my life and the most rewarding one too. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a journey with countless challenges. Here are some of the main ones:

  1. 1. First product not being viable: As mentioned above, my first idea of physical date night boxes was essentially loss making and not financially viable/scalable. Even today, our cupboards are filled with hundreds of mini alcohol bottles from the cocktail boxes I used to sell! I could have given up at this point, but I decided to experiment and pivot, which has led me to digital date night products I sell today, with 5,000+ orders across 80 different countries.

2. Knowledge gap. Most of the time I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was willing to learn and persevere. I didn’t have a big budget to start with, so I’ve done everything myself e.g. coding my website by searching for answers on YouTube, clumsily using Adobe Illustrator to design my logo, writing privacy policy, Ts&Cs and other legal documentation for my website, creating and designing all the products without any experience with Canva, learning to make TikToks and grow on social media, never having even used TikTok before. Throughout my journey, I’ve always tried to embrace the mindset of “I have no idea how to do this, but I’m sure I can learn”.

3. Trying to build the business with a full time job. There’s no magic or secret here – balancing my demanding day job and a business has been very tough. I tried to work on my business as much as I could on the evenings and weekends, but after a full day of ‘firefighting’ at my day job, I did often feel emotionally and physically depleted, so it wasn’t always possible to work on my business as much as I would have liked to. I’ve had to accept that I only have so much energy and time and for this venture is to be sustainable, I had to prioritize my health, mental health and overall wellbeing, even though it meant that things are moving slower than I would have liked to in the short term.I had to be careful to observe and notice any signs of my mental health taking a toll due to overworking and prioritize taking rest as well as doing things that bring me energy and joy. My approach was prioritising consistency of action – trying to do at least a little bit every day to build and grow my business.

8. How long did it take you to see consistent monthly revenue?

In the first 6 months of launching my business, my total revenue was less than £3k. 7 months in I’ve had my ‘Flirty Dice’ printable board game go viral on TikTok, which brought in over £700 in just 3 days, which is when I knew I was onto something and started to see more growth from leveraging organic social media to drive sales.

As my sales were mostly driven my videos going viral, the income levels varied significantly from month to month e.g. 7k one month and only £1k another. I am still working on diversifying my marketing strategies and revenue streams to achieve more consistency in revenue e.g. utilizing email marketing, increasing my presence across other social media platforms, working on paid brand partnerships.

9. When did you realize you could quit your job and go all in with the business?

I’ve had 5,000+ orders from 80 different countries and made around £60k in sales before quitting my corporate 9-5, which reassured me that my idea solves a universal problem for couples all across the world. With the business concept verified, I felt that I could make this venture work, if I dedicated my full attention to it.

I’ve built up my personal savings to sustain myself for at least the next 12 months, after which I’m hoping to be driving enough revenue to pay myself a salary that’s similar to the one I had with my job in Finance. Leaving my well-paid job in Finance is the biggest risk I’ve ever taken, but I absolutely love the business I’ve built and believe that with consistency, discipline and a growth mindset I’ll be able to make it work.

10. What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start a business?

Find a pain point. There is a brilliant book called ‘Competing against luck’ by Clayton M Christensen, which I recommend for every aspiring entrepreneur to learn about identifying and solving real problems.

Validate your idea. Every entrepreneur thinks their idea is fantastic, but the only way to verify it is to see if anyone is willing to pay for it and if it can be profitable. If you’re looking to quit your corporate job for a side hustle, I think it’s essential to prove your concept before you do.

Prioritise action over perfection. Learn to be comfortable with releasing your ideas into the market and testing them before they’re perfect. The more messy/scrappy action you take, the quicker you’ll get the feedback you need and be able to learn from it. No point working on perfecting your product for years just to find out no one wants it.

Do something you’re truly interested in. Ask yourself whether the idea you choose for your business is something you truly care about. If you do, the setbacks and disappointments that you’ll encounter along the way will be worth persevering through.

Embrace the growth mindset. It’s easy to fall into the victim mentality, blame the circumstances and feel sorry for yourself, when things don’t go to plan, but it won’t serve you well. Take ownership of the failures and focus on what you can learn from them. Cultivate the mindset of curiosity and endless learning.

Stay true to your values. We see the stereotypical high-flying entrepreneur going with no sleep for weeks, working all hours of the day and having no time for social life or relationships. While this might work for some, I’m a big believer of intentionally defining what ‘success’ means to you personally and consciously choosing ‘the price you’re willing to pay’ in the different aspects of your life to get there, because I think you can do anything, but not everything. I know my health, and relationships with family, friends and fiance always come first and I’m not willing to ‘drop the ball’ on those aspects of my life, even if it means my business might grow slower.

11. Where can we find you, as we are all fans of you now?!

Instagram: @atwistofdate
TikTok: @atwistofdate

Thank you so much Ruta for sharing all of this with us! You shared some really great stuff!

Make sure to check out A Twist Of Date to find more information.

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