In August 2009, when I got laid off from my job as account manager for a large corporation, I felt relieved. Maybe I should have been upset or scared, but all I could think about was that this was the one chance I was going to get to do something amazing with my life instead of working in a mundane industry that was sucking the life out of me. The job wasn't horrible, it just wasn't very fulfilling. Fortunately they gave me a small severance package and some money to go back to school with. I took that opportunity to take all the art classes I could find in order to spend every penny that they were offering me (which equated to 54 credits in one year between 3 local community colleges). Why not? No one could understand how I could possibly take that many credits at a time and still do well, but most of them were just going to a 4 hour studio class and making art the whole time. I was quite happy!
A year went by and I ran out of school money , so logically the next step would be for me to find a new job. I looked a little, but there wasn't anything good out there. I didn't want just any job, I wanted a job that I truly loved. While I waited for that to come along, I spent my time developing my blog and website, working on art projects, submitting to contests and magazines, and trying to make a name for myself somewhere out there in the art and craft world.
On December 11th, 2010, my dad unexpectedly passed away and it hit me pretty hard. I didn't do much for a few months except mope around and sleep. Manuel and I took a road trip back to NJ to help my sister go through my parents' belongings and get the house I grew up in ready to go on the market. That was hardest thing I ever had to deal with in my whole entire life. I don't know how I would have gotten through all of it if I had a job I had to go to everyday. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that I wasn't working at the time.
A few more months went by and I tried to get back into the human race. I took an Intro to Art Therapy class at the local community college and considered becoming an art therapist (until I found out that I would need tons of schooling and would never really make decent money). The good thing was that the exercises we had to do in class really helped me deal with the loss of my father and all the other changes that were going in my life at the time.
Shortly after that class was over, Art Unraveled 2011 came along. I credit this amazingly fun art retreat from pulling me completely out of the funk I had been in for so long. I got together with fellow art lovers and friends for a week long of creativity and got flooded with inspiration. As the days went on, I thought of more and more ideas and projects I wanted to start working on. Even after the week was over, I spent my days challenging myself to get back into doing what I love. I signed up for art and craft fairs where I sold my stuff. I submitted to Sew Somerset and got published. I entered Cloth Paper Scissors' Artisan Search contest and was chosen as a finalist. Things were starting to happen! I had never been so excited or happy about what I was doing.
Around that time, a friend and fellow artist that I met at Art Unraveled, Jane Eileen, invited me to her house to visit her studio and do some art journaling. We were chatting about things when she mentioned that Kathy Cano Murillo, a.k.a. the Crafty Chica and my friend on Facebook, had posted about how the company she works for (iLoveToCreate) was looking for someone that had something to do with ceramics. Jane didn't really know what it was about but knew that I liked ceramics so thought I might be interested to look into it more.
I went home and read Kathy's post and it turns out that they were looking for a Regional Accout Manager for their Duncan® (their ceramics brand) line. My eyes practially popped out of my head! I didn't know a position like this even existed! Imagine being able to do what I was trained to do professionally for a company who makes products for the art form I love the most! Needless to say, I sent my resume right over.
After a series of phone calls, iLoveToCreate invited me to Fresno to meet the team and tour their facility. When I got there, I felt like I was at the Happiest Place on Earth (forget Disney!). Everywhere you turned there were art supplies, completed art and craft projects, and people working on the next big thing. There were production lines pumping out bottle after bottle of glues and paints. There was even a store that sold all the products they manufacture, in addition to clays, glass, kilns and wheels. I was in heaven. It was hard for me to stay calm, cool, and collected (you know, professional) when I was surrounded by all of this. I was like a kid in a candy store.
I had to interview with 6 people that day. Normally I would have been a nervous wreck but for some reason I wasn't. Everyone I spoke to was really friendly and made me feel very comfortable....another good sign! Towards the end of the afternoon, I met with the Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer, who has to be one of the most amazing ladies I have ever met. I told her about what I had been doing while I was unemployed for the last two years (or was on sabbatical, as I like to call it), and she referred to it as a 'strategic break'. After two years of people asking me why I didn't have a job yet and accusing me of wasting my time with all of this art stuff, imagine how great it was to talk to someone in her position who understood what I was doing! I fell in love with the company and it's team members that very day. I wanted this job more than anything!
A few weeks later, I got the job offer and was packing up to move to Fresno, CA. On my first day of work, I was asked if I was interested in blogging about ceramics for www. ilovetocreate .com (um, YES!). I got to decorate a cardboard puzzle piece with Tulip® and Scribbles® products. They put my name up on the board in the front lobby welcoming me to the company. They talked about me and my accomplishments over the intercom for everyone to hear on my first day of work. The CEO of the company, Larry Duncan himself, sent me a message on Facebook about how he liked my website and added me as a friend. I felt like a movie star!
I write this on the eve of my 2 week anniversary with the company. My job is everything I had hoped for and more. This week we had 'wear your slippers to work day', free Christmas breakfasts and coffee, magic cookie bars baked by the Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer herself, a warm clothing drive for a local shelter, and will have a holiday luncheon and ugly sweater contest Friday afternoon. My job requires me to look through ceramics catalogs, browse distributor websites, and keep in the loop of what's going on in the world of art related blogging. I had lunch AND dinner with the Crafty Chica on Tuesday! Next week I get to go to Duncan University and make ceramics for 3 days with one of Duncan's most experienced Ambassadors. I am going to get to travel to New York City, Seattle, and England (!!!) in the next few months to visit our distributors and go to trade shows. This is the greatest job I could ever have asked for, for greatest company I could have ever hoped to work for, with the greatest employees I have ever met. I feel luckier than I would if I had won the lottery. And that's a very good feeling.
The board in the lobby welcoming me to the company...
The puzzle piece I got to create during my orientation...
The front of the iLoveToCreate Building in Fresno, CA...
Close up of one of the huge ceramic pieces decorating the front of the building...if it is this fun outside, can you imagine how it is inside?
Another close up...
PS to all of those people out there who think my two years of being unemployed, er, I mean being on sabbatical wasn't productive....if I had never taken that time to immerse myself in the world of mixed media art, I would have never known about the Crafty Chica or added her as my friend on Facebook, nor would I have met Jane Eileen who told me about the job in the first place. I knew what I was doing the whole time. So there!