Monday, September 26, 2011

20 years in the making

I hope you will find encouragement in your life after reading this.

Yoshitomo Nara, Fountain of Life
Sometimes things are tough and you don't see an end to it. Sometimes our plans go astray and we don't know what went wrong. Sometimes it just seems that the world is not fair to you. But one day you look back and you will realize they probably all happen for a reason. The road is tough but it gets you there.

It has been an eye opening year for me. Somehow it brings me closer to my self. The self I thought I have lost many many years ago.

When I first graduated from college I wanted to take a profession that would be on the creative side. I have always like to work with my hands but the young me lacked patience. At some point in my life back then, I decided that being creative and working craft was probably not right for me. Ironically, that is what I am doing now.

But back then, I did not know. And I took a detour to work in an office job in advertising. It was a tiring job with little appreciation. And after awhile, you realize that you don't really "produce" anything. Everything is everybody else's work and most of the time I was just managing expectations and maintaining a network of people. Just when I felt quite lost with my life, I met my husband on a project that required for me to work overseas in US/Canada temporarily. I decided to start a long distant relationship with him being in NY and me in HK, after spending only 2 weeks with him. After 2 years of being away from each other, I decided to move to NY and see if we could make our relationship work for us for good. And fortunately my ex-boss helped me land a job in NY.
My humble home in NY back in 2005. It was just a studio apartment but it was my first own home. 
Looking back, I would not have known my husband if I were not in advertising doing a job that I found out I did not like. My rabbits were moved to NY safely as well and at that point, I knew this will be home for me for a long long time.

But something was still lacking in my life. I still hated my job, if not more with this new company. But at this job, I found jewelry again.

My mom and I used to make our own jewelry and that was how I started working on jewelry back in HK. My boss, whom I cannot enjoy working with, has great taste in jewelry and she made some of her own beaded jewelry as well. After our office relocated to Madison Ave, I realized that I was just blocks away from the Fashion District and a station away from the Diamond District. The jewelry supplies stores were everywhere and I found a jewelry school that could teach me silversmithing during the weekends.

One day, my Japanese co-worker introduced me to a website where a famous amigurumi artist known in Japan was selling her patterns online. And that was Etsy.

I started my Etsy account in 2008, and a year later I started my first Etsy shop, Bunnies Can Dream.
My first postcard for the shop. The offer does not work now of course!

I got married and I finally decided to resign from the company last year. I took some time off and took on another full time class at the jewelry school. Then I started my second shop, Harlequin&Lionhead just for my silversmith work.

This year I joined a lot of Etsy community groups and started selling in craft markets. And through Etsy groups and selling in markets, I have met a few good friends. Some of them my emotional support, some of them taught me a lot of things that will be useful for years to come in my jewelry making life.

A couple months back, I was quite discouraged because the end of the year is approaching, and I am facing a decision if I should go back to full time work next year or not. This may be inevitable but I am unsure of the timing. Yet my jewelry business is too young to support me financially. I was forced to think that the end of the dream is coming.

I was struggling if I should get into the Union Sq holiday market. I thought if that worked out, I would not have to work in advertising again. But it was too much to invest and I decided to fold it. I have been kicking myself for not taking risk ever since. Then another opportunity came up in Brooklyn. It is a lot lower in price and could be a retail location for me for good. I felt like it is another opportunity and something seems to speak to me that I need to make something it happen for my business this year. But again, the numbers don't really work well for me. Just when I was about to give up again, I was introduced a friend and she brought me a chance to work with others and share the space. I felt like it seemed to be a message from high up that I must try harder and don't give up.

Later on this fell through (again!) I was upset but not as much as I would have been, if not for what happened just a few days before it.

As the single child in the family, growing up I was always alone. When I was bored, I played with everything in the house I could find. And I invented a way to work with my blue tac to create amazing pieces that looked like feather or leaves or just whirls of textures. I discovered recently that I could use Polymer Clay to do the same thing. And better still, the clay could be hardened and I could use it as a basis to build my jewelry models.
One of the first few pieces I created with polymer clay. The wax models using these polymer clay prototype will be then cast into metal and made into wearable jewelry. Read about it here.

When I discovered this new technique, I was so happy not only because I will be able to do something no one can, but because something I made when I was a kid, can now be applied to my business. It feels like there is a circle which I started from a point in my life 20 years ago, and is now completed 20 years later. As if it was meant to be.

One of the new friends I met at Etsy groups and at market introduced me to these amazing mold makers who are now helping me turn my polymer clay molds into real jewelry molds.

And that realization came just a couple days before I received the news that I could not share the retail location in Brooklyn with this group of people I was introduced to. Instead of destroying me, I decided that I will just have to make it happen no matter what. So I applied for weekend market booths at the same location and was accepted. If I cannot sell it there as a lease tenant, I am going to be there just as well!
Dekalb Market will be my new corner this holiday season.

My husband calls this series of events "coincidences." I don't mind that but just to think that if any of the steps along the way went astray, I may not be here writing this.

Say...if I didn't enter in advertising, I would not have known him. If I pissed off my ex-boss, I would not have found a job in NY and our relationship would have ended 6 years ago. If our company had not moved, I would not have discovered these supplies store and applied for the jewelry school. If I had not known Etsy, I would not have started my own shop. If I had not found my friends on Etsy, I would not have started selling in markets. If I had not been bored at home back then when I was a kid, I would not have been able to design my new line of jewelry today. And if I had not moved to NY, I would not have started my jewelry at all. There are so many of "What Ifs" that could have gone wrong. But they did not.

I thought I made sacrifices in my life to be with a man I love. But I gain not only him, I found a passion I have lost.  And that is why I am here. And I think it could not have been clearer that no matter what I do next year, I will never give up jewelry making.

My first fabric print design. Read it here.

Sometimes a person can only plan as much for one's life, because all we can see is the past and the present. And the future changes all the time. We get worried. We get disappointed. We complained and we doubt ourselves. But maybe all we need to know is that, everything happened for a reason. We just need to look and piece them together to see the path. And that will lead us where we should go forward to.

If you are religious, it could be God helping you. If you are not, it could be fate at work. If you don't believe in anything, then call it luck. But no matter what, don't worry too much and be grateful. It will all work out fine.

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