Last fall I sat down, played on the floor, and chatted about life with one of the loveliest people I am proud to call a friend - Jeanie Ow of Stu-di-o by Jeanie. She told me she wanted to document my process and help me show the world who I am. All of the pictures in this post were taken by her. I didn't know a photograph could make me feel so happy or beautiful until I saw her work.
Let me take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Lana and I make geometric contemporary jewelry. I love my craft fiercely and passionately; unparalleled to any other task or job I've ever held. I have a dog, a husband, and we live in a small (but not too small) apartment overlooking the city of Vancouver. Some things you might not know about me: Pickles are my favorite, I always say yes to bacon, I love to ride my bike, I snowboard (and I'm cocky about how good I am), I have a bachelor of science in Biology (what!?), and I have been self-employed full-time for just over one year.
A while back, I was liberated from the chains of the corporate machine. I got laid off. I was devastated. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed, worrying about how I would pay my mortgage or how I would share my perceived failure with my husband and friends. I had the dream job. I was making great bank. I had it all and in a split second I saw how quickly I could lose it. Obviously, I had failed. They didn't want me. They laid me off. I wasn't good enough. What if I never worked again? Would my husband still love me? Think of all the nasty terrible fears you have deep down inside you about your performance or job expectations - those fears hit me like a wall and nearly drowned me in their miasma.
Cue the friends.
We all have them - best friends, close friends, acquaintances, all types. One friend in particular was quick on the uptake and said all the words I needed to hear and even now, when I'm feeling low, I hear her truth. We both had a really good cry about it. The corporate wheel always turns and the choice to lay me off was because of anything or things I did. It was someone crunching numbers half a continent away; making the company leaner and meaner. I had to be a duck and let the water roll off my back. I guess I still carry it around with me, but I know now that she was right.
The husband was supportive too. He told me that we would adjust. Find our center and continue to acheive our goals. He said he trusted me. He believes in me.
But how!? How would I do it? For years I had been juggling my corporate life with this secret (not-so-secret) double life of a designer. Creating jewelry in my after-hours, slinging earrings on the weekends, all the while managing corporate regulation and procedural dealings during my 9 to 5 (more like 7 to 6). For LanaBetty it was the cusp my biggest holiday season yet and like a juggernaut, I couldn't stop what I had started. I had to see it all through. I had to succeed.
We decided as a team, loving husband and I, that I would give the holiday market season my absolute best. I would attack the markets with ferocity and passion. I would get angry about my job loss and funnel that energy into design, production, and sales. I would fix up my website. I would set targets and hit them. And if it all tanked, I would put LanaBetty on hold and look for another corporate job.
First and foremost, I had to be happy. No more working with stress so high I didn't sleep. No more working so hard I forgot to eat. No more pushing papers for a company that didn't care left or right if I completed projects 10 months in the making or not. Happiness in it's purest form - uninhibited laughter, being content in every moment, self-confidence and self-assurance.
Well, over a year later I can honestly say I am happy. I have never worked so hard in my life. Every moment is spent on social media or in the studio. Everything I have done before this moment has prepared me for the next. I have had my jewelry featured in blogs, on models, in magazines, doubled my sales and have kicked up quite a niche market in custom jewelry. I have also realized that my unique skill set has really prepared me for helping other small business with lanalepper.com.
What I love, is that I am accountable to myself. That has never been more empowering or satisfying than anything else I have done with my life to date. I am a self-proclaimed workaholic and I love every single minute of it. I am a designer, jeweller, and budding goldsmith and I can only see big things in my future. Sure, I used to work in the corporate world, but it was another lifetime ago. Would I ever go back? I doubt it.
My advice: Do you feel as if you're stuck in a job you hate and know you're destined for something bigger? Just do it. Take the leap and never look back. Dive head first into your passion and let every single moment be the best moment. Be happy with who you are and content when you get into bed every night. Strive for greatness and (sometimes) be humble about it. Be proud of yourself and always, always, do what makes you happy.