I'm sitting at my kitchen table with a laptop and a pile of notes that are being transferred into my sketchbook, on my second official day of self-employment. To say this is a weird feeling would be an understatement, and I'm sure this is just the beginning of a series of weird feelings while I adjust to a very different life.
I worked at Sephora for over twelve years. I started there when I was fresh from college, with the uncertainty of what my future held after school. I was freelancing as a visual merchandiser (which I really knew nothing about), and applying to every retail position I could find, in the hope that I could at least have a temporary job while I figured out what to do with myself. Needless to say, it took a long time to figure that out. In the meantime, I was learning everything I could at work. Skin physiology, ingredients knowledge, retail operations, the psychology of selling. I learned everything I could about how the store ran, experimented with products, dabbled in education, learned about merchandising. I basically did every training I was allowed to do, tried different positions within the store, and just explored the full breadth of the place. At Sephora there is a lot of opportunity, and I took advantage of that for a long time. I really tried to make it my career for a while.
I always did my making on the side, and have had an Etsy shop, in some form, since 2007. It felt good to have side projects that fulfilled the artistic part of me. It was just something fun to do, that I slowly (very slowly) got more serious about. Until it came to the point about 4 or 5 years ago where I just felt like I was hitting a wall with my jewelry making. There were things I wanted to make that could only be made if I took a class or something. And I found one. An apprenticeship program. It was much, much more than I'd bargained for, but I felt this insane feeling of determination, like I HAD to find a way to do it. It was expensive, but I knew I'd do whatever it takes to do it anyway. It was 8 months long, but I was ready for it.
I went in with an enthusiasm I hadn't felt in a long time, and even though it was hard to balance with work, and my money was SO tight, I finished it in 2013. I really felt like I'd found this missing life motivation that I'd been looking for. I had plans at that point to jump right into the industry, but I realized quickly that was a bit rash. So I just kept making, and working retail, and seeing where it would take me. And I made a few goals and didn't reach them. BUT. There were things I never expected that happened instead. Opportunities arose that I never planned for or could have seen. It was all very exciting. I messed up a lot, I made a bunch of mistakes, and I learned a lot. And I got really, really busy.
In the midst of all this, a lot of big things in my life were changing. The only thing that was staying the same was my job at Sephora. But I just couldn't handle it all. I'm an introvert, so being in public interacting with people all day is very draining. I didn't have anything left to give to all my passion projects. There was even more than ever before to balance, and I was doing a really bad job at it. The things I care about the most, including MischaLee, were getting the short end of the stick, while I plugged away at my day job like I always had. I loved the security of Sephora, but something was going to have to give. My life had started to feel like one of those nightmares where you're trying to run, but you can barely move your legs.
So for two years I saved and planned so that I could move on to a new chapter. Here I am, doing something completely outside of what I know, starting all over, trying to learn everything I can about something else. I don't know what's in store for me, but I'm just gonna do what I always do -- try as hard as I can, give it my all, and explore my options. I'm so grateful for everyone I've met along the way, the friends and family who have cheered me on and believed in me, the customers who have had to be so patient, and the hard, hard lessons I've learned (and am still learning). A future so foggy has never looked so bright to me before. I'm ready to see what's out there in the mist.