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In My Other Life - Guest Post from A La Mode

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In my other life - How a disjointed career path can lead to one girls dream.

Hi, I’m Linda Demers of à la mode and alamodestuff blog . I am so excited to be the guest blogger today on Quiltish. When Allisa gave me a list of suggested topics about which to blog, I jumped at “In my other life.”

Have you ever looked at your professional career (past or present) and wondered, “How will my skills translate into my dreams?” I’ve often wondered how my past work experience would manifest itself into my dream of owning my own business. In these tough economic times, in particular, many of us are taking jobs that are so far from our dreams and goals.

 This is how a disjointed career path can lead to one little girls dream.

As a young girl, I always dreamed of owning my own business. While many were playing dolls and dress- up, I was playing design studio. I always sat behind a drawing board creating outrageous outfits on my fashion plates (as outrageous as the standard plates could get). I wanted to design, create and be my own boss.

 “Someday I will own my own business. I don’t know what it will be or what I will do. I just know I’ll
own my own business.”

 (credit: Cabin)

Fast forward many years to college and like so many others, I struggled to find my major. Business was
never an option in my mind because, well, it was for the preppy kids. I wanted to do something a bit more creative. I started in journalism and wound up in Sociology and Interior design. I was fascinated with the idea that our spaces could affect our moods. My plan was to study architecture in grad school.

 Reality sets in. I need to pay bills. Grad school on hold. Must get job.

   [credit: mimidoodles]

My first job out of college was working for a civil engineering firm as an AutoCad technician in Indianapolis, Indiana. I drew bridges and roads on the computer. It wasn’t architecture but it was design.

 While it was terribly boring, I learned:

         -to use computers with no fear
         -tenacity - pounding the pavement (exactly how I landed the job) by walking into an office with my pimped up resume actually worked.

 Inflated ego and heading to Chicago

Ultimately, however, I wanted to move to Chicago. I began looking at opportunities there and was star struck when I landed a job with one of the architects I had studied and written papers on in college. I was working for a famous architect whose reputation of tyranny preceded him. I didn’t care; I was in the big leagues now…so I thought. It was a tough gig. Highly stressed people working for little pay under the indignant watchful eye of a fame driven, egotistical architect. I learned that:

 - Fame is a lot of work
 - How to handle (or not handle) a stressful work environment
 - I didn’t want to work for people whose only worry was how to store their 44 pairs of sunglasses

 After two years, I was done. I decided to go into not-for-profit. At least I’d feel good about what I was doing…so I thought.

For the next 10 or 11 years, I found myself in the world of development for non profits – fundraising, marketing, PR, grant writing, etc. I worked for The Easter Seal Society, art centers, and finally multiple
universities in Chicago. I learned to:

 - problem solve
 - think on my feet
 - manage staff
 - orchestrate large events
 - sell whatever organization for which I worked
 - design promotional materials, etc.
 - fire people (I hated that)
 - sell/pr/marketing
 - the list goes on…

This was not only a great period of technical learning for me, but one that often left me wondering if my ultimate goal of owning a business was just a pipe dream. During this period, life got in the way as well. My husband left banking to pursue medicine. I had two little boys. I needed a steady income with benefits. Reality set in. I had to work in a career that was great, but not my passion.

 Life happens and never as planned

In 2004, we moved to RI for my husband’s residency. It was decided then that I’d stay home with the kids. Having one person working 90+ hours a week was enough stress on our family. Once we settled into our new home and kids were back in school, I began a creative journey. I had designed, created, and dabbled in arts and crafts off and on all these years, but never with focus. In 2005, when a friend threw a holiday craft party, I serendipitously found myself with the beginnings of a small business.

 Dreams do come true but not without hard work

 (credit: JohnWGolden)

Finally, after all these years, I am putting everything I learned in all of my former jobs to use in my own
business. So, I’m happy to report that every job should be looked at for the immediate skills you are gaining. When you own your own business, all of these skills become useful. I’m finally living my dream. All of the time I spent worrying about my career path and where it was leading is now moot. I was on
the right path all along. The path to my dreams.

 [credit: thedreamygiraffe]

{Many thanks to Linda for sharing her story & guest posting today! I am so honored to have her, someone I looked up to way before getting to know her. She is wonderfully creative & savvy & kind. Take a peek in her shop for wonderfully modern & inspiring bags, jewelry, and home decor}


alamodestuff said...

Thank you, Allisa, for giving me an opportunity to hash out my career path. It's great to be reminded that any experience is transferable. The important thing is to keep on dreaming!

Tracy said...

Linny is a ROCK STAR!!

Candied Fabrics said...

What a great post - to see your jobs ending up being a path to your perfect career - awesome!

Angie said...

Such an inspiring journey. I've learned our dreams come true over an expanse of time not the moment we graduate from college or land that "perfect" job. May your dream continue to evolve and bring you creative fuel!

daisy janie said...

What a nice post - I was bopping right along with you! It's so cool to see how a, b, c, d and e finally equalled a la mode!! Your drive, ingenuity and aesthetic come through in all you do, Linda - and I really enjoy that about your business. It's easy to see you're at home with yourself!

alamodestuff said...

Such nice comments. Thank you all! I'm inspired by you all daily!

Allisa Jacobs said...

Many more thanks to Linda for writing such a lovely piece! Inspiring & hopeful.
I love hear all the feedback...it's amazing how everyone's live really do twist & turn...

Waterrose said...

What great insight into one of my favorite people! It seems all of our careers along the way help us shape what we want and don't want from life.