Well this is pretty intimidating, I have to say. Blogging was never part of the plan, in fact, being a jewelry designer wasn’t necessarily part of the plan either.
Hi, I’m Chrissy Kelly. I had what was a pretty successful career in graphic design for over 25 years. I worked up the ranks, starting as a production designer at a newspaper, then as art director with one of the first internet application service providers, then with a direct-to-consumer dotcom (that is actually still thriving after so many went belly up), eventually freelancing on my own for a while with beauty and lifestyle brands as clients (so fun!), then my dream job as creative director for ad agencies. Twenty-five years go by and all was great! I had no doubt this path would continue, life was good.
Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer and everything changed. I was in year 4 with an ad agency at the time, and the owner and president both seemed very supportive. They were both women, so the thought that my job would be in danger due to my diagnosis literally never crossed my mind. I was at the top of my game, led an extremely productive and talented team. I had this.
The corporate mentality is harsh, and this mindset is not exclusive to men, as our current social climate would have us believe.
In preparation for my leave of absence, I painstakingly set up my team to be ready to handle anything that could possibly happen during my 5-week leave. It took months, a ton of strategy, and a ton of stress. I have to say that my team was the best, most talented, and most supportive I could have asked for. They performed brilliantly during my leave and I returned in full force to a well-oiled machine. My boss, the president of the agency, was different however. Things were much, much different. I expected to be commended for my comprehensive and successful preparation efforts, but instead she questioned why I was needed at all if my team could handle things so well on their own.
Unfortunately, all didn’t go as planned with my treatment and I had to be out several more times. I was vigilant in my responsibilities though, and scheduled treatments/surgeries as late in the week as possible, so I could use the weekend to recover and be back to work on Monday. Hardly taking more than 3 days off at a time, which was ridiculous, now that I look back. Still, having all glowing performance reviews and receiving several bonus awards and raises during my tenure there, I was ultimately let go with the statement that my role was no longer needed in the agency.
It seems a young man was needed however, and one was hired as creative director 6 months later.
Ok. I still got this.
Or did I? Fear and panic struck with what was being revealed. Now, in my late forties, the job search was an entirely different concept than what I had ever experienced. I never thought the age thing, or even gender thing, while a very real problem in todays workplace, would ever effect me, and now it was unraveling my whole career… I needed to figure out a new plan.
Designing jewelry was always a side hustle of mine—I would make pieces for myself and as gifts for friends and family. I had sketchbooks full of designs. My first memory of “designing jewelry” was as a kid—I took a piece of scrap tinfoil with my mom in the kitchen and made a ring from it. I asked Santa that year for a roll of foil, and was thrilled when I unwrapped it under the tree! Over the years I took every opportunity to develop my skills taking jewelry making and metalsmithing classes, and of course up’d my game with materials, lol. I dreamt maybe one day I’d make a career out of this… but never believed I could actually do it.
Does everything happen for a reason? I’m not sure if I believe that entirely… but maybe I needed a push, or redirect, a bop on the head. So maybe the universe stepped in?
(Li'l harsh though, Universe, maybe work on that a bit...🙄🤣).
So I dove in, learned as much and as fast as I could about the jewelry industry, starting a business, and how to be profitable at doing something you love… on your own (at least until I can afford a team!). It's been the best time of my life. I'm totally loving it. Scared as hell but I'm happier than I’ve ever been. It was tough and terrifying to let the job search go and concentrate fully on a jewelry business, but with my super supportive family and friends, and a fiancé that has no doubt that this will be huge (love that man)… here goes!
I hope you love what you find here and will ride along on this journey with me!