Career & Me : Long and Winding Road
It is November. Yes. November. Isn't it surprising how time can pass by so quickly. You got on your daily lives, you live, breath, work, do what you have to do everyday, and still taken aback when you suddenly look at the clock that says 00.00 and the date below the clock change appearance into a different month.
Remember those feeling when you feel like you need to do something but somehow you can't get yourself having it done? I do. And you are surprised that time pass by so quickly and you still haven't done it? I do too. So here I am now, changing that. By the time I finished this blog post, I will be able to cross something off my small tiny little list of mine. Something that I have been wanting to share since quite sometime.
Let me tell you a little story. I warned you though. It might not be quite little after all.
I first know about what I really enjoy doing as a career when I was 30 years old. That was the time when I decided to enrol in fashion school. That was five years ago. Funny, huh? Well yeah, sometimes I felt miserable because I found it out way way to late. Some of my friends from school had a nice career and a family with at least one kid by the time they reach the big 30. At some point I even envy them. But well, we all are born different. Some people know from the very young age what they want to be. Some people, like me, had to go through different kind of career paths before finally finding out what they really enjoy doing. And actually, by the time I was in my early thirties and had a momentum about my career path, I was not doing any shitty jobs or broke, I was..actually pretty successful, at least in my own way.
I was a single happy girl, lived with her adorable Golden Retriever in her own pretty house, got her own cute car to drive around, had her own small business, a small fashion boutique for more or less two years, living peacefully not too far away from her family, and had trustworthy friend. Back then, that means a lot for a girl who lived in Indonesia. Back then, even I would asked my self, what else do I need?
Before I opened my fashion boutique, I was already running a shoe shop. After I closed my shoe shop, my fashion boutique became my life. I did everything by my self. Decorating, planning, hiring, buying, financial report making, visual merchandising, you named it. My concept was simple. I wanted a place where girls came by and felt like choosing their own clothes at home. I equipped my boutique with best selling software I could afford, easy payment methods and I made the boutique as clean and as pretty as possible. I provide my customers with latest fashion information including monthly fashion magazines from Indonesia and overseas. We even have a fashion trend nook where I posted some new fashion trends, also some styling books that I ordered from Amazon US (back then even my parents can't believe I was spending my money ordering books from the US although a month later the books would showed up).
I have to admit. I was not really knowing what I want back then opening this boutique. I did it because I saw a business opportunity. There was no boutique in my town at that moment who can provide merchandise at reasonable price but giving the same great service. There were plenty of other boutique, of course. But either they are selling expensive items and you got great service, or they sell cheap crap and you got at the most, standard service. So lets just say, I saw a spot of making money.
After some period time of ran the boutique, I suddenly felt like beside having a great concept, my boutique actually just sold products that people can find somewhere else. I imported my products from Hongkong and Korea at that time. Many other people also did the same. I was missing something. So one day I browsed the internet including Multiply (was really popular back then) and find a young designer from Bogor (a small city one hour from Jakarta, our capital city) who sold her design online. I looked at her creation and suddenly with mouth wide open and split second I knew what I have been missing. Over excited, I called her that night, blahblahblah over the phone, basically begged her to supply some of her over the top cute dresses for me. She agreed. Shortly after, not only I supplied my happier customers with handmade, good quality, limited design for clothing, I also ended up working together with another shoes, bags, and jewellery designer. I was on fire. I got more serious about my finances and I learned so much along the way, from trial and errors and for a while things ran pretty awesome.
But as I got more creatively involved with own small business, I got more and more ideas about what I should sell. A dress came, and I thought it would be better if it has a little trimm down on the edge. A bag came, and I was murmuring about probably it will look sleeker having a different button. A loafer came, I was thinking why didn't she put a little tassel so it does not look boring. It went on until I realise that hell..why didn't I just made them myself? After a while dealt with customers, listened to them, gave them basic styling advices, wanted to give them more but limited in resources, I finally decided that I need to somehow do something about this. Problem was, I couldn't draw. I couldn't sketch. I was lack of material knowledge. I needed to change this.
With that in mind and after dealing with lots of objections from the family (more to that later), I packed my bags, enrolled to fashion school in a different city. Left home, everything, everyone and my comfort zone. By the time I decided to go I realise, I have found my career path.
Fashion school was torture. This is true. I went to fashion school with big excitements. I would be able to dressed up everyday going to school without people looking at me weird, like those in my hometown. I would spend my rainy days caught up in a big old library holding a big,thick book about Dior or Oscar de la Renta. I would meet and befriended with fun people that are creative and passionate about fashion as well. Well, two of those things I dreamed about turned to be true. Except the library. It was not big. And I did not spend my rainy days reading big books about Dior. I spent it doing projects. Yes. I did not expect some other thing. The real world behind fashion school. It is a 9 to 5 thing. Tons of homework. Project on weekends. Hard, sweaty, three hours sleep, many hours sewing, extra hours learning to sketch, barely social life kindda thing. It was torturing, challenging, sweat and blood thing but it was one of the best decision I have ever made in my life. Not only how satisfying it was to finally finished what I have started (oh yes, I stood still up to the very end), but the fact that I now have one solid friendship consist of eight people (eight!) that I have met through fashion school, have made the decision worthwhile.
Fashion school had pretty much brought the best in me. I got to know my limit. What I am capable of. What I can do when I set my mind to something. I went there without knowing how to sew, how to draw, lack of material knowledge. I went there without knowing that I was, am, actually strong enough to fight and to give the best for something she believed in. I went there without knowing that I actually have more talent in styling than designing. Ha!
So it was my program coordinator back in fashion school, Patrice, who sort of gave me a hint. One day he looked at me from head to toe and simply said 'you looked nice'. Another time he had one of the staff to take photos of me because somehow my outfits interest him that day. Another teacher told me that I do have an eye for styling. I love turning pages in fashion magazine and admire the beautiful girls in beautiful clothes. I do enjoy putting outfits together for my self, heck I even had a room as my wardrobe, long before fashion school, long before the boutique. I think it first started when I knew I can decorate my own home and made it pretty. I also had sharpen my skill a little by dressing my customers, and well of course, my self. So I was thinking. Perhaps I do have talent in styling. So there it was. From wanting to be a fashion designer, I then wanted to pursue my styling talent. That was why, when the time arrived to choose a place for internship, I picked Marie Claire, a fashion magazine.
Internship at Marie Claire was really hard work. I assisted my fashion editor (a very hard working young woman named Felicia, whom I learned so much from) in photo shootings. To make a few pages of fashion spread in a magazine took much longer and whole lots of process than flipping them with your polished fingers. It started with a concept. After that comes the details. Booking all the talents: Models, photographers, search and visit locations, make-up artist, hair stylists, properties. In Indonesia you got to move your ass off, went from one boutique to another, one designer to another, borrowing clothes, bags, shoes, jewelries. You check each item before you borrow and you check them again before you return. I remember I hold one Dior bag very tight to my chest for few hours, just so I know that it will be safe. Then comes the shooting it self. If everything went smoothly, it can last to some five to six hours. If your model suddenly had a mental breakdown and you need to chase her around (happened to me once), then be sure you won't be home before midnight. I completed my internship in three months. I would love to stay longer, but timing it self was not convenient since final internship presentation for that year was at the end of my three months internship time. I was actually kindda lucky being able to do it that long, since my circumstances was different (I did my internship after final exam, which allowed me to do it longer than my other classmates who only had three weeks).
That internship was an eye opening. Oh my how I really loved doing every single bit of those process. Got to know designers who made their name and watch their show. Observed my fashion editor with all the styling, putting together looks. Learned so many new technique of writing fashion articles, got to know more about brands.
After the internship I already got pretty much clear ideas about what I want to do. I really love styling and I really want to become a stylist. I also still want to have a fashion business. In the middle of fashion school I had to shut down my old boutique. It was sad. But with me being away it did not attract that many people anymore. People who came for personal advices and great service, slowly stop coming. To make matters worst, the place where the boutique was, a shopping mall, failed to attract new customers, because it was being a bit away from a city center. So you see, after completing school and the internship, I was really really eager to come back to my home town, implementing ideas that I had, having one stop fashion business that serves as boutique specialised in handmade design and personal styling services. To build a new brand with a new, more personalised concept.
But then you see, life,has always, is full of surprises.
My man and I lived in a different continent for three and a half years. We took turns visiting each other. When we first dating, he just decided to study again and I decided to enrol in fashion school. The fact that we are independent people have made the distance relationship relatively doable. Although of course were time when we thought we could not do it anymore. And after three and a half years, we decided that we need to do something about it. Great right? Both my career and personal life got so exciting at the same time. So he flew over, we discussed things, we decided things, then we went together to one cute handmade jewellery shop in Bali and buy a ring as a symbol of our engagement. He went back to his continent, I started all the preparation. To move.
I never actually thought that I have to choose between my career and personal life. I never saw it that way. Of course it suck that by the time I had all things figured out for my career path, I then have to postpone it and move to somewhere completely new. It also suck that it means I need to leave prior life to start a new life but since early age I was never afraid of change. What was and still hard though, is leaving my dog. He was already 9 at that time. And I rather have him at my house living happy with both my parents and have some accompany everyday, instead of bringing him to an apartment without a garden where he will spent most of his old days being alone since my husband and I bust our asses to work.
So did I voluntarily agreed to move? Yes. I did it not only for love but for my personal challenge. My man got a generous job offer which enabled us to start our life start away. The country it self is a great country and so challenging (the language, the weather, the people) seemed like a great reason to move.
It has been two years since I moved to this country. A few things had happened since then. The first year I spent mastering the language and worked in a chic local brand called Hallhuber, and now I got a new job working in another chic brand called & Other Stories which will be open tomorrow (sooo exciting).
About my dream career, well, my dream career is still there. It will always be there. Just because I postpone it does not mean I can't do it again. After all, you will never know what lies ahead in the future. Perhaps it is here that I will finally make my dream come true. How fantastic it is if I can make it in another country and not my own? You see? Challenge accepted! *grinned*
So what is the point of this post, you may asked? If you have everything figured out so why write this post after all?
Because I have met some people with the same situation like I had. Some people who actually talked to me about it, and I bet there are some more people out there who had the same situation but perhaps did not have somebody to talk to or are too afraid stepping out of their comfort zone, and I have told my self that one day I will share my own experience about it.
Remember when I wrote earlier about me having troubles with my family when I decided to enrol to fashion school? Well...because they didn't trust me. And I did not blame them. No I am not a thief or anything. But in my family I got the reputation of not finishing what I started and seemed confused about what I wanted to do, the fact that I studied different things and moved from one job to another (although all of them I did seriously). I have studied French Literature and did not finished. I studied Public Relations in two places and did not finished. I went on rampage to do any kind of courses. I went on from working as a CSR in a Australian company to a Secretary in a German company. I taught English, became an Interpreter, a Singer, went to learn Make-up, and even started a Modelling career that landed me one commercial on TV. So you see?
You may read this as some few sentences summed up my career choices in the past, but we were talking about years here. I mean come on. I started working when I was 19, and I finally found my career path when I was like, how old? 30? Yeah. So I know exactly how it felt to be in those area when people around you seemed content and move on with their life and you are just like jumping around wondering, thinking and hoping that soon you will find what really make you happy.
So if you are miserable right now with your career path, try to following:
- TALK TO YOURSELF
Ask yourself honestly: what do you enjoy to do the most? can you make a career or a business out of it?
- DO YOUR HOMEWORK, TAKE TIME
If you are blessed with another job right now, do not quit your job as yet. Even if its miserable. Things that worth it takes time. After all you need to pay the bill. After finding out what you love to do the most, for example, baking. Do your homework. What kind of business or what kind of career path that you can make out of this passion of yours? Is it a bakery shop? Is it a baking blog? Is it baking instructor? Any ideas that you can come up with.
- MAKE PLAN
So for example you want to open a bakery. Do your research. Is there any bakery in the neighbourhood? What makes you different? How are you going to finance it? Or perhaps try to sell it online first? See how people like it? All of those question you have about your new career path should be thought thoroughly before you do anything about it. Don't be afraid to take risks, but also be patient and plan everything the best you can.
So you want to open a bakery, but can't afford it right now. So what will you do? Work for a bakery one day per week like on Saturday for a couple of hours? Just to see how they rolling? Why not? The most important is that you keep your attitude. Example: I know exactly how to use a steamer since I have been using it for almost ten years to steam my clothes. But when somebody told me how to use it the right way when we were preparing for the store opening, I pay attention very carefully on what she had to say. And turned out she was right. Well it was a different steamer so how would I know? Same goes to you. Even though if you feel like you know things, listen to your surrounding. You can always learn something new. My current boss is around five or six years younger than I am. But she has been working for more than fifteen years in the company that owned the store. I looked up to her and hear what she has to say, every single word. Humble keeps you on a right track, and have lots of advantage. Attitude is the key.
- BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
You only got one chance in this life to live. May as well live it doing the things you love doing. It is never too late no matter how old you are. Do not get too comfortable in your comfort zone because we are each born having the same chance to work ourselves for happiness. I might not be a CEO or somebody worth million of dollars now but it does not matter. What matter is that I have been there, moving from one job to another, going to school without ever finished, being confused and lack of self confidence about what I want to be and what I want to do with my life. I have been there. And I am in better place right now for choosing one thing I enjoy doing the most as my career path and although I need to start again from the very beginning in a different country, I am extremely content and happy. I am on my way to my dream career path by doing what I am doing right now, even if it takes time.
Good luck on finding your career path. Never give up. After all, you are not alone.
Cover photo by Deng Cythia