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How to Turn Your Passion Into a Profession

Collage-of-Pictures

Guest post from Veronica of Vintage Meet Modern Living

“Never let anyone dull your sparkle”, the saying goes. But in the summer of 2011, I couldn’t see any sparkle at all. Just sadness and financial ruin. I was the single mom of two young girls, and my child support payments had been reduced to almost nothing when my ex-husband lost his job.

Then, my aunt passed away. A spinster, she’d left no one behind to tidy her affairs, so my family was faced with the task of cleaning out her century-old home, a place full of memories, heirlooms, and… clutter.

Six of us tried sorting through the chaos she’d bequeathed us. Save. Donate. Toss.

We toiled for days in the summer heat. But amidst the mess, I discovered pieces of jewelry scattered throughout my aunt’s house. A few of them were my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s jewels, but most were costume pieces, or “fabulous fakes”. I tried some of the jewelry on and found that wearing rhinestone earrings makes the job of cleaning a little more fun.

I asked my Dad what to do with all those sparkly treasures. “You keep it,” he answered. Sentimentally, I dragged boxes and boxes of jewelry home with me.

Around this time in my life, I had discovered MoneySavingMom.com and Dave Ramsey. One of Dave’s teachings made immediate sense to me: to raise cash, sell what you can now, because you can always buy it back later. So, in between teaching preschool and raising my girls, I began selling my aunt’s jewelry online. I chose the Etsy platform because it seemed seller-friendly.

Each week I listed a few pieces of jewelry for sale. It was slow going at first. Then one afternoon while teaching preschool, my phone went “cha-ching!”, and I said to a co-worker, “Hey, I just had a sale on Etsy!” Soon the cha-chings were more frequent, and some weeks, my jewelry sales were higher than my teaching paycheck!

While wrapping jewelry orders one night, I said to my then-fiancée, Chris, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could keep this going? Help pay for our wedding? We have good success online, but other people seem to make sales more regularly and in some cases for more money.”

Chris said, “Well, let me take a look,” and he compared my Etsy listings with those of other sellers. He concluded, “It’s your pictures, they are pretty terrible. From now on, I’ll take your pictures. We’re a team.”

Chris was a professional film editor who had studied photography. With his focus on taking jewelry pictures, I was able to concentrate on listing, selling, and online networking. Our inventory grew, and I enjoyed daily online sales. I also began doing local appearances and pop-up shops. So what happened next surprised even me: it was no longer just about the items, but about the whole experience.

Vintage Meet Modern Life.

Everything old was literally new again. Those tiny sparkles began to bring a lot of happiness to me, and to my clients. I began to hear things like,

“I love this, my grandmother had one just like it.”

“This will be my ‘something old’ on my wedding day, but I will treasure it forever.”

“I have been looking for the earrings to match this set for years!”

And, my personal favorite: “This is vintage? Really? I love your style. Where can I get something like it?”

I frequently get asked about being a “mompreneur” and about how I got established. Well, it did not happen overnight. Faith, love, and support were critical not just to success but longevity in business. Being true to yourself and looking inwards can help start your journey.

Here are a few key things to consider.

Embrace your calling:

You know that little voice that just won’t shut off in your head? Not the one that says, “Mom, I can’t find my socks!” but the one that says, “THIS IS WHAT I WAS MEANT TO DO!”

Gratefully, I had that “aha” moment, and it shone brightly. I realized that, while I liked teaching preschool, I loved selling and styling jewelry. It brings me joy, and it brings joy to other people.

Embrace opportunities:

Not everybody inherits boxes of costume jewelry like I did. But I thank God for the opportunity it gave me at the right time in my life. I could have easily dropped the boxes at Goodwill. But I saw this treasure as a unique chance to jump start my own online store.

Embrace your fears:

Early on, I had my doubts. I could barely work a computer, I am not a talented photographer, and what would we do when we ran out of jewelry?

I had to make peace with my fears. When our supply of jewelry dwindled, I got a call from a previous client who was downsizing her collection, and would I be willing to buy or consign it? I had never attended an auction or an estate sale before, but I quickly learned that these were great places to restock our jewelry supply.

Embrace the help of others:

I succeed because of my family: my daughters help at shows, and my husband is my photographer. But I also succeed because of online support. Don’t be afraid to look to the Web for advice. Many of my early business questions were answered by other moms online.

Blogs like MoneySavingMom.com inspired me, too. I’ve discovered vintage jewelry support groups, people worldwide who help me identify my rare jewelry finds. Today, I moderate an online group of entrepreneurs called Vintage Modern Now, where women can share their stories – both good and bad – and promote each other’s businesses and help each other achieve goals.

Always Sparkle.

My mantra. I wanted to give up many times. We all have the ability to sparkle, and on the days when you feel you can’t, just put on a vintage brooch or some fun earrings. I assure you someone will stop and say, “Wow that’s beautiful!”. Just like you.

Veronica Staudt owns Vintage Meet Modern, an Etsy shop specializing in vintage jewelry. She is also a wife, mother to three, and a stylist. Veronica organizes collaborative photo shoots showcasing the talents of other women entrepreneurs. You can read about her adventures on her blog, Vintage Meet Modern Living.

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11 Comments

  • Dawn says:

    Thank you so much for this inspiring story. I have been being nudged to do
    something like this. As usual, the idea comes and I quickly snuff it out. Time
    to start to listen to the “nudge” . Thanks for your help!

  • Sonja says:

    Thankful for this post. Actually, it’s my husband following
    his “nudge” and I need grace to support and follow! 🙂

  • Diana says:

    Wow, thank you for choosing this guest. You couldn’t have selected a better person!

    Veronica, you are truly inspiring in so many ways. I “know” you online and have never admired, respected and looked up to you more. Thank you for doing what you do and sharing it with others! You inspire me daily! Xoxo

  • JJ says:

    Love this!

  • Leslie says:

    Veronica is an inspiration to us all! I am lucky to be her colleague and friend. Not only does she cheer us on to follow our dreams, she shares her experience and knowledge to help us get there. A beautifully written article about a beautiful person whom I admire very much.

  • Kim says:

    This is awesome! Love seeing you following your calling and being such a positive and inspiring success story. Proud of you Ron ?. XO

  • Maysem says:

    Great piece and so inspirational Veronica! I’m so proud of you and everything you have accomplished. You have always been an inspiration and continue to be so to not just me but to so many others! Love you!

  • Jessica says:

    I found mine while working full time in what I thought was my calling! I started writing as a side stream of income. Two and a half years later, I quit my job to stay home and do more writing. This will be my best year yet. As a writer, I will earn only about 1/3 of what I did working full time, but I also have no childcare expenses and I write for maybe 3 hours per day. I can be there for my children, I can do my work from anywhere with Wi-Fi and I can do as much or as little as I prefer.

  • Amy F;) says:

    🙂 I love your line about the voice in my head- not “‘I can’t find my socks!’ but the other one” 🙂

    so genunine!

  • Angie says:

    Veronica is an amazing woman that, as said above, is a great friend and motivator. She is truly an inspiring person and knows the true meaning of sisterhood! This is a wonderful article I know so many others will find inspiring!

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