Please join me in welcoming this week's
Guest Writer for I Quit My Day Job!
Chandra Merod, Owner of
The Cozy Craft Corner, in Sacramento, CA
I had been working with young children as a teacher for eight years. I started working with infants so I could bring my daughter to work with me. I enjoyed working with children - they are so excited by life everyday. They are in constant wonder, experimenting and learning about how to work with others. I created the curriculum for my classroom of twelve children. I loved doing the art curriculum the most. Creating the cutout shapes for them to paint, color or to glue paper on to. One day I said to myself all I want to do is art!
During this time I made wire wrap jewelry at home as a hobby, I did collage and drawings but the only painting I did was with the children and it was so fun! I started planning how I could turn craft into a career. I looked into creating my own after school program. There was a lot of schooling I needed in order to get this done. Plus all the regulations I needed to follow, including the play area. I was crushed to find out I would need a large amount of money to fund it, and more time to go back to school. After all, I was a single Mom struggling to work full time, and take care of two kids. I ended up keeping my ears open to possibilities, and kept working my job. I joined a beading group where we could just work on our jewelry together, or one of us would teach a new jewelry piece to the others. They loved my wire wrap rings so I taught a class to them. It turned out to be fun! Every month we would meet. I learned how to do peyote stitch and many other beaded jewelry in this group.
|Chandra's Wire Wrapped Jewelry|
The Universe decided it was time for a change for me. I was turning Forty and I was a wise older woman now ready to jump in. I had been single for five years then I met this fantastic man who I fell in love with. I applied to after school programs, and kept on being creative at home. Then my boss had a meeting with me telling me she knew I was looking for another job and I should move on. I was confused because I had worked there so long, and I loved all my children, I worked hard but I guess it was time to leave. The next week the Universe gave me another push and bang! My house caught on fire! Luckily my family got to move in with my new boyfriend. I had a month to leave my job. I had no time to look for another job or even work at the old one. I had to pack up all the smoke covered belongings and get them in the garage so the house could be cleaned. It was a very big change forced on us. New house, new job, new life!
So, here I was living in an apartment with my new boyfriend. He was so kind and said he would pay the expenses so I could get my act together. It was time to move on from the job. I thought I should get a serious job, so I looked around. Since I loved children I thought I should become a Doula because every woman needs extra help after the birth. I looked into it and could not find the classes I needed in my area. Then I decided I would bake so I created cookies and muffin recipes with no sugar that were also gluten free. I took them to one café to see if they would take them. The café seemed excited but never responded after I gave them a sample tray. I needed a kitchen to make these in and it would cost money to start, so I put it on the back burner. Then I started a blog thinking this would inspire me to figure out what I wanted to do. I bought the book, “Blogging for Bliss” to help me while I continued to look for a job, make jewelry on the side, adding a little at a time to my Etsy shop.
|The Cozy Craft Corner|
I had no sales but I was determined to sell something I had made. My creativity was flowing, I sewed and baked and made jewelry. It was the first time as a Mom that I was able to stay home with the kids, and be there for them after school to do creative things and enjoy, relax and be a Mom! I loved it! When it was obvious I was not going to find a job or create my dream job, I collected unemployment. I felt like such a failure. I didn’t know what to do. Then I got pregnant. My boyfriend had talked about how he wanted his own children so we were happy. We decided that we would like to get married. I had never been married before even though I had kids. It was so exciting! I love babies so much. But a week after our wedding, I had a miscarriage. It was devastating. We then moved to a three bedroom house, and now we had space. But we had more bills, so there was a push for me to really start working. I applied more effort to my Etsy shop. Adding more jewelry, trying to fix it up. sharing more on my face book page.
I decided I needed to create my own job. I looked for books and researched how to start a home business. I looked at the Etsy blogs that help sellers. I looked into turning my kitchen into a certified kitchen so I could start the baking business. My idea was to sell to local cafés. I used to be a restaurant and cafe manager so I have some prior knowledge about the café business. It was a confusing time, looking for jobs, trying to find my creative job. Meanwhile I had another miscarriage. But I made it through, and eventually I took my jewelry to a local shop. The owner gave me advice on it, and took some of my work in for consignment. At the same time I knew of a space that was opening up in an art complex. It was a great price to lease and just the right size. I asked the shop owner where I sold my jewelry a lot of questions about opening my own shop. We also talked about me teaching classes at her shop as well. It seemed like a great situation. We had a meeting on the kinds of classes I could teach, costs, space and time. We both agreed it would be great. I wouldn’t have to get a business license, tax id and rent a space after all. But this situation ended up not working out because the shop owner was too busy, and she asked her counter person to work with me instead. The classes were posted, but no one signed up due to miscommunication.
|Lovely Learning Nook!|
I created my own web site, a new Facebook page and posted classes on Craigslist to help get people signed up. Two people took my wire wrap ring class there. When I came to the shop owner’s store to set up and conduct my jewelry class. she put us in a hallway, not the room we agreed upon! We were cramped into a small space. After class there was more miscommunication about the prices and the commission she would get. I ended up leaving feeling really frustrated. My Mom came over and we made collage. While doing this I saw that what I imagined could come true. I made various collages, but the one that pushed me into owning my own shop was a large poster board size piece where I put everything I wanted my shop to be. I realized it would be better if I started my own shop because then I could do things my way!
I talked to my husband about it. I got a business license, tax id number, got a loan and I leased the shop space. I was so excited setting it up, painting, getting furniture, and displaying my jewelry. I created a meet-up site and posted classes. I took an ecourse in boosting your creative business by Kelly Rae Roberts.
|The Cozy Craft Corner|
Today I am five months into the shop. I have had many classes where some show up, and no one shows up. I have people come into the shop just looking and others who buy things. I have a few commissioned artists in the shop as well. But I am revamping my business. Over the past few months I have met so many wonderful Artists from Kelly Rae Roberts class Flying Lessons. This has helped me tremendously with the confidence and strength to keep going and trust in my creativity thriving. I have taken a month of free creative coaching with Jessica Brogan. She has helped me to be more authentic with myself, to follow my deep whispers and to organize my business. Now I am looking into turning the shop into a creative community of artists who inspire each other. It might be like a co-op or member run gallery where everyone contributes in some way as a community of creative people. In this way it will grow and become a place for artists to feel safe, create and enjoy their time together. As of now I am losing money in the business, but I think it’s normal for the first year of business. I look forward to creating more ways to make this a profitable business. It can be scary but I try to be positive and hope for the best in every way. If I didn’t try this adventure, I wouldn’t have ever known if it would have worked out, or not.
I encourage all of you to follow your heart! Do what you love. Make a collage of what you want, imagine it and it will come to you. Quit your day job if it’s not working for you. Take the steps you need to create the dream job you imagine. Or possibly the Universe will make it happen to you!
Find out more about Chandra by clicking on the following links:
Thank you Chandra for taking the time to share with us your story! I am so inspired by you and your perseverance, I want to be just like you when I grow up!
**If you know / or are someone who left their day job to pursue a full time creative business, and would like to be featured on my blog, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org***