Since I’ve finished some editing, I had a chance to have lunch with some women friends today, and I was intrigued and inspired by some things they said and what they’re doing. Actually, I was downright impressed.
I’ve always kept my hand into interior design in some form, although writing has been my main career since I was nineteen. But my training and schooling in design has always stayed with me, both in fashion and interior design. And in the past ten years, I’ve had a passion for contemporary art, and had a gallery for the work of emerging artists for four and a half years. That was a whole new career for me, and I absolutely LOVED it. I loved looking for new artists, going to art fairs to discover them, visiting their studios, discovering their new work, and being the ‘matchmaker’ between the artist and the collector. And my goal was to keep the prices reasonable, so many people could enjoy the work I found. And I loved every show I curated, and the artists almost became a second family for me. The years that I had the gallery were fun and exciting for me, to learn something new, and discover a whole new world, and ‘second career’ as an art dealer. I still curate at least one show every year for a gallery in San Francisco, and I have a ball with it. Branching out into art has been a wonderful addition to my life.
More recently, two years ago, three French composers asked me to write lyrics for their music, and I embarked on doing that, and producing an album with them, which will be on the Internet very soon. I knew nothing about the music world, and it has been a tremendous learning experience for me. It is truly exciting to learn new things, and adapt the skills you have to a new area—–or to learn something completely different. I think learning new things keeps life interesting and challenging!! Most of the year, I’m writing, but I try to take a few months off, and use that time to learn something new.
Today, at lunch with my friends, I was fascinated to hear what one of my friends is doing. A successful and talented interior designer, two years ago, she decided to start a shoe business, which was a complete departure for her, and venture into a totally new field. Maybe it was something she had always wanted to do. At first, as people do, I’m not sure anyone took her seriously…..shoes?…oh that’s nice….whatever. But she’s actually done it, and her staid and perhaps predictable life has opened up to new horizons. She and her son in his mid 20’s started the business together. She traveled extensively to China, Vietnam, and Brazil, and more recently Mexico, to explore production options and visit factories. I KNOW I wouldn’t have the guts to do that, my new ‘career’ ventures have been closer to home and much more timid, than negotiating with factories in Asia. She chose the factories that worked for her, picked fabrics, and dealt with everything from the design (of canvas sports shoes), to the colors, the shape, the production, the fit, distribution, advertising, and everything it takes to start a business. And she’s done it. The shoes are now in stores, great to look at, fun to wear, and comfortable, and doing well. I’m soooo impressed!!! It has turned into a serious, well thought out, successful business. And she has learned everything about it from the ground up, and is doing well. Bravo. (You can see her shoes at http://www.blukicks.com/ )
At the same lunch today, while talking about her business, someone mentioned one of her relatives. The last time I saw her, she was a very intelligent older woman, who played an excellent game of tennis, but as far as I know had never worked. And today, I discovered that she has opened a fish restaurant, runs it all herself, is doing well, and has learned the business also from the ground up. Or from the water up, she’s not just an ‘investor’, she even fishes occasionally for the restaurant herself, but is running a serious fish restaurant and working very hard at it full time and doing well.
Another friend in France, after a long career in the luxury business, mostly in perfume and cosmetics, has become a ‘matchmaker’ between companies seeking investors, and those seeking to acquire or invest in small companies. Presto magic!! A new career!!
I have to say, I am so impressed by the courage it takes to start something new, to do something you may have always dreamed of, or something you hadn’t thought of previously in your wildest imagination. Most or many of these small new ventures are started on a modest budget, and take an enormous investment of personal time and effort and hard work. But I think it is a fantastic opportunity to stay engaged in the world, and get involved in something new. Another woman I know just told me this week that she has opened a small needlepoint shop as a ‘second job’. I really admire and salute these new careers, found with courage, imagination, built with sheer hard work, and the guts to try something new. And I really admire those who follow their dreams, no matter what others say or think. And bravo for trying something new!!!