April 10, 2022

Not every hobby needs to become a business

Not every hobby needs to be a business.

I've made jewelry for as long as I can remember. It's a creative outlet for me, and I can't not do it.

In 2004, I got laid off for the third time in four years. At that point, I decided to leave the non-profit sector, since it seemed they all had the same problem: creating a position funded by a grant, but then not raising the money to sustain the position in the long term. (Can anyone relate? 🙋🙋🏼‍♀️🙋🏾)

While trying to decide what to do next, I decided to turn my jewelry hobby into a business. After all, how hard could it be?

Turns out, pretty hard. Not because the business itself was a bad idea, but because the kind of BUSINESS I wanted to have could not be sustained by the kind of WORK I wanted to do.

See, I love making one-of-a-kind pieces. I don't want to mass-produce. I buy my materials in very small quantities because I don't want to repeat the same design over and over again.

So that was the first roadblock I put up for myself. And then, back in 2004, before Etsy even existed, I would have to schlep all my jewelry to craft shows up and down the state. I did have a website, but it was pretty hard to get noticed, and people really like to see how something looks on them in a mirror.

During that period, I met so many amazing creators and makers who I'm still friends with today. But it was exhausting. My husband would go with me if he could, but most of the time I was doing craft shows by myself.

And... in 2005, I opened my public speaking coaching and training business. A business that I knew would be sustainable, where I could meet most of my needs for creative inspiration, and where I could, to be honest, make a lot more money!

Oh, and at the time, I was still running the non-profit I had co-founded in 1997. So I was running a jewelry business, starting a training business, and wrapping up my time with my non-profit. I couldn't keep going on that way!

In 2007, I closed up the jewelry business and began to devote 100% of my time to the coaching and training.

I couldn't even make jewelry for myself for probably a good year. I was so over it. It wasn't fun anymore. I had turned it into something that was just not enjoyable.

15 years later, and I've almost come full circle. I do sell my jewelry again, but only for fun, only if someone reaches out and asks me about a particular piece that I've shown on social media. I've done a couple of craft shows over the past few years, just small local events that don't involve a lot of work, or driving.

I love my hobby again. It will never again be a full-fledged business, and that's okay. Just because you love doing something - and even if you're really good at it - doesn't mean you should try to make a living at it!

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