Career & Money

Why This Founder Stopped Chasing A Bag & Started Exploring Her Hobbies Instead

When Cristina Jerome, founder of Off Worque, moved to Los Angeles during the pandemic, her career in marketing was at an all-time high. After working with brands like Topicals, RCA Records, Camille Rose, and more, Jerome soon found that her growing resume created an even greater gap in her time outside of work.

“I realized I was extremely burnt out very quickly,” she tells xoNecole. “I didn't have anything going for myself outside of work, and a lot of my work became my identity.”

After a colleague suggested that she might benefit from taking some time off and using her free time for activities, she realized one problem: she didn’t have any hobbies. This lack of a work-life balance showed Jerome that she not only needed to create a space that prioritized hobbies in her life but also for other individuals in LA experiencing the same challenge.

For Jerome, the Off Worque lifestyle is all about setting healthy boundaries around the time for work and when it’s time to have fun. It aims to “create opportunities through events, workshops, and more for people to relieve burnout, unplug, and connect.”

Today, Off Worque gauges its community interest to curate activities like hikes, sketching in the park, co-working happy hours, paint and sips, and more to meet the needs of its members. “One of the prompts for the Slack group is to tell us your hobbies and the things that you want to try, she says. “It's all coming from the members and what they want to do because they're the heart of this group.”

For xoNecole, Jerome shares her tips on how to cultivate a “worque”/life balance, prevent burnout, and decenter our job titles from our identity.

On how to decenter yourself from your job title and find fulfillment in other areas of life:

“For me, I removed my work from my [social media] bio. That was step number one.

Instagram is kind of a portfolio now, where people go there to see who we are professionally and personally, so I removed it from my bio and put 'very well marketing resume, but I'd rather be off work.' My pinned posts [on Instagram] used to be my projects, but I started to remove my outward [online] appearance from my professional to my personal.”

“I also stopped introducing myself as ‘I’m Cristina and I do XYZ.’ Instead, I say, ‘I’m Cristina and I’m from Virginia.’ That’s been a much better talking point than what I do for work. If someone asks, I'll tell them, but usually people don't ask unless you're really getting into the thick of the conversation.”


On how to create systems that help prevent burnout: 

“I practice the 80/20 mindset and incorporated that into Off Worque. It’s spending 20% of your brain power towards the things that you have to do and spending 80% of your energy doing the things that you want to do. This could be a hiking trip, a hot girl walk, or just going outside to breathe fresh air. For me, my non-negotiables are going outside, getting a coffee, and catching up with friends, and my pottery classes.”

“When it comes to setting boundaries, I would get a lot of anxiety having to email people back, but now, it’s I say, ‘Hey, I got your message. I'll get back to you when I can' and I make my list for when I'm able to get back to people. Nothing is a fire drill, we’re not saving lives.”


On how to explore hobbies and creativity while maintaining financial stability: 

“I'm going to be honest with you — this is not the best advice for everyone, but I quit jobs. I will say, I do have a savings account, and I know a lot of people may not be able to afford to have a savings account, but I've put myself in a position to be able to do that because I know that about myself.”

“To your point, we can not afford to not always have some sort of income coming in and to pay our bills, I just don't give it enough of my brain power. I used to hyperventilate a lot and be like, ‘Oh my God, I have to finish this’ and ‘Oh my God, these people are depending on me,’ but you're gonna get the work done, and you’re going to have something to look forward to after.

"Overall, stability is not a real thing. I've never really gained anything from chasing a bag; I've always gained more from chasing my creativity and being creative, and money always followed. It always works out; you always land on your feet.”

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