When I looked at my given topic this month and saw it labeled as, “The Journey”, I thought of several ways this article could go. I thought, WHICH journey? The journey I take each day when I sit to design? The journey that it takes to find my creative self in the midst of a chaotic day? Or the journey I took to get to this point in my life, where I make pretty things for a living?
I thought it might be interesting to try the latter — how I ended up where I am now, where I have the absolute joy of actually making a living making jewelry. It’s a strange, convoluted journey, with lots of twists, turns, and almosts, and it will tell you a little more about me, and in the end, why my jewelry is so eclectic, and doesn’t adhere to one given style.
I’ll start with my first real-world job. It’s as far from jewelry design as it could possibly be — four years in the US Air Force. Joining right from high school, I spent a year in California learning Korean, and then off to Osan AB, Korea, to work an intel position. Lots of fun, except for chemical exercises (see photo for the reason why!), but no beading. I never even thought of it.
After four years in Korea, I left the military for the civilian world, and held a few different jobs, mostly in marketing. While marketing didn’t have a thing to do with making cool things, it DID give me a solid background that I now use everyday in how to market myself and my company.
A quick jaunt to Italy occured when I realized I was never going to quite be complete without a college degree. I spent the three months before classes started living in Italy, teaching aerobics for spending money. I fell in love with Venice and, of course, Murano glass. I spent my time admiring the vases and large sculptures, never dreaming that glass beads were going to become an integral part of my future career. Oh, if I’d only known then what I know now, and had a bunch of money to spend on beads!
Next came college — two years at community college, then finishing off a four-year degree at the University of Virginia, majoring in Biology. I’d taken nearly every microbiology and teeny-tiny-things bio class I could, and was in pre-med, so I’d had lots of time in chem labs. THAT gave me an attention to detail that I use now in each piece I make — it has to be JUST so, down to the ending bit.
After self-imposed poverty while getting that degree, I decided to take a year off to make some money before med school, and ended up in the IT world, smack-dab in the middle of the dot.com explosion. Once again, I found myself working in sales and marketing, and gained more skills that would eventually serve me well when I owned my own little company.
Another twist in the road — meeting my husband! Deciding to have a family rather than spend up to age 40 in internships, I happily got married, and discovered while making wedding programs, table cards, and favors that I had a bit of a creative side. I very nearly took the tests to become a wedding coordinator but then, oh joy, we were expecting a baby!
While I was pregnant, I spent part of the time on bed rest, and my friend brought me some beads to keep me busy. Uh oh. Kinda got hooked. I didn’t have time until after Zack was about 8 months old to really play around seriously with the beads, but it was addictive. I sent some things to my mom, who took them to her office, and they sold — and all of a sudden, I had a business!
Now I do about 16 craft shows a year, have tutorials in magazines and a book, have been a mentor to a few new crafters, and have never had a job I loved more. I feel so lucky. All of those twists and turns in my life could have led me anywhere — a career military sergeant, a PeopleSoft IT professional, a doctor, a wedding planner. Each of those stops along the way gave me something to take with me to this part of my Journey. And I couldn’t be happier.
Her blog is at www.lorianderson.blogspot.com