Lessons From a “Shark Tank” Winner and Canada’s Premier Craftsperson
You’re about to meet two people who made their own jobs.
They both make jewelry. Yet their stories are quite different.
And luckily for you, you don’t need to be a jeweler or in any way artistic to learn from these inspiring self-bosses how to make your own cool j-o-b!
The first is an impressive young Canadian jewelry designer and entrepreneur named Rachel Mielke.
I met Rachel when I spoke at the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan annual conference where she was being honored as Entrepreneur of the Year.
Little wonder… Rachel had successfully pitched her business on the forerunner of the CBS hit show Shark Tank, which in Canada is called the Dragon’s Den.
A year after getting that $200,000 investment, her company hit the million-dollar mark.
I had the chance to visit Rachel in her studio…. and pick up a few pieces for myself!
Playing big allowed Rachel to outsource the actual making of her jewelry so she can focus on the part she loves – designing!
Clearly she’s doing something right because at 29, she’d been invited to attend a 2008 pre-Oscar Luxury Gifting Lounge in Los Angeles.
She went on to buy another more modestly-priced jewelry line to sell as a vendor on the famed Lilith tour.
And she’s even made jewelry for the Queen of England!
If you want to be self-employed, you need to understand marketing. Search for Rachel on YouTube and you’ll find countless examples of the brilliant ways this talented designer and her company continue to play big!
Turns out Rachel didn’t just make her own job…
Instead she used her Dragon’s Den money to create jobs for other people including a head of marketing, an operations manager, and several other employees Rachel needed to scale her business.
There’s a huge lesson here for people who say they want to make six and even seven figures but then scoff at the idea of having a team.
I get it. I don’t like managing myself. But if you’re going to scale a business you can’t do it all.
In the beginning when funds are tight, you do need to be the creator, bookkeeper, administrative assistant, social media manager, head of sales, and marketer.
However, once you have some money coming in, you need to either hire people to do things that are not the best use of your time — or outsource these tasks to freelancers.
When I brought my Vision Implementation Manager Lisa on, it was the scariest financial decision I ever made. But having her on my team is what allowed my business to grow and to free me to focus on what I do best.
Position Yourself for Cool Things to Happen
Unlike Rachel, Natalie Austin didn’t start out to be an artisan. Rather she earned a degree in Folklore and Vernacular Culture.
Fortunately, she comes from a long line of artists and craftspeople… so she knew it was possible to turn her creativity into her livelihood.
Today Natalie is a jeweler with a cause – converting household copper pipe used in plumbing into jewelry.
“Every piece of material I can up-cycle is one less thing that ends up in the landfill,” she writes. Adding, “Through jewelry design, I am making my own small daily cultural and environmental contribution.”
Natalie made another international contribution last week when she showcased her jewelry at the G-7 Summit in Japan!
Each of the seven major industrialized countries represented got to bring just one craftsperson to represent their entire country – and Natalie was Canada’s pick!
A remarkable achievement by any measure. Astounding when you consider she only began making jewelry three years ago!
She may be young, but Natalie’s advice to aspiring jewelers is deeply wise…
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: sometimes they lead to the most incredible creations. Art is not linear; I found my niche through trial and error. I’m not afraid to try new colors or styles – it’s the best way to grow as an artist!
It’s tempting to see Natalie as an “overnight success.”
Rather, I see hers as a story of what can happen when, like Rachel, you see yourself as both an artisan and a business owner… and then act accordingly.
You see Natalie and I met when I spoke at the Newfoundland/Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE) in April.
When I congratulated her on the big G-7 news Natalie was quick to point out that there are many deserving artisans who’ve been at their craft far longer.
She’s right of course.
I couldn’t tell you why the Canadian G-7 committee chose Natalie to represent the entire country over others.
What I do know is it all began with a nomination from the team at NLOWE.
Something that would have never happened if Natalie had stayed hunkered down in her studio.
Instead she made the wise decision to take her work seriously and seek advice from a local organization dedicated to entrepreneurial success.
If you’re in the U.S., do a search for the local branch of the Small Business Development Center in your state.
In Canada, search by province. In other countries, search for “entrepreneurial counseling in [country].”
Whatever you do, starting repeat after me: If I want to work for myself, I need to start acting like someone who wants to work for myself.
Then do it.
Join the Changing Course Community Discussion
I’m honored that you’re a part of this amazing community of change seekers.
I love inspiring you to be your own boss… but what I love even more is hearing from Y-O-U!
Were you inspired, encouraged, or perhaps discouraged by Rachel’s and Natalie’s stories?
If your first thought is, but I don’t make jewelry… or I don’t want to build an empire… then you’re missing the point.
What lessons can you take from Rachel’s or Natalie’s story and apply to make YOUR own job?
What do YOU love to do and what do you need to do today to begin to profit from your passion?
I know you’re busy… but it would mean a lot to me if you would take a brief moment to hop over to the Changing Course Fan page on Facebook and share your thoughts and ideas with others in the Changing Course Community!
Then stay tuned for Self-Bossing IDEA #6 in our series Make Your Own Make Your Own Cool Job!
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