Having started her career as a nurse, it wasn’t long before Jennifer Welker felt that familiar tug to follow her heart down a creative path. Armed with a lot of guts and a serious eye for style, she did a 180 and started her jewelry line, Golden Thread, in 2010. Chances are you’ve seen some of her pieces in and around shops throughout the US (most recently at Saks Fifth Avenue!), or perhaps you spotted our girl Pippa Middleton rocking one of her pieces. All the same, Jennifer is on fire, and is sharing 5 of her tips on how she switched careers.
1. Think it through!
A desire to switch careers, leaving behind all the schooling, degrees, and honors that have taken a lifetime to build is a scary place to be…but passion, true love, entrepreneurial spirit, and creative giftedness cannot be subdued or stifled for long!
Switching careers is a big decision and one not to be made lightly. It shouldn’t be a rash decision made out of emotion, but a long, thought-out process. My transition actually took many months, many talks with my husband, friends, family, and mentors before I actually decided to make the leap and leave the career in nursing that had took so long to build. To leave behind a persona and field I knew so well. It was a leap of faith I’m so glad I took!
Have those creative brainstorming sessions, play devil’s advocate and ask the tough questions, don’t just jump in blindly…research, research, ask, ask, ask! Go to your mentors – both personal and professional.
A lot of people don’t know, but I’m a nurse by degree and I worked in the Neonatal ICU for years before I was bursting at the seems to unleash my creativity! I left my career in nursing in 2010 to pursue my life-long passion for accessories with the launch of my brand, Golden Thread. I am so passionate about accessories and all things feminine and timeless. As a mother and a wife, I relate so much to women’s desires to feel effortlessly beautiful in their day-to-day lives. I’m inspired to design for these women, and I love creating a relevant, fresh and current look that remains classic for everyday wear. I truly wanted to redefine classic monogrammed jewelry by placing a focus on quality, innovation, and sophistication while keeping designs affordable. As a nurse, I used to sketch designs out on paper dreaming of the day I could do this full time. Careful what you wish for!
2. Using your strengths from previous positions and careers
The two careers I’ve had, are actually stark opposites and have nothing to do with the other…so that was especially intimidating. Nursing and fashion…I couldn’t’ think of anything more different. I used my type-A, high-energy, adrenaline-junkie-ICU nurse-personality to help me move forward in launching my dream and my business. Pulling strengths from your previous career can help you abundantly in the new venture.
I have always been the creative type and making jewelry was a great outlet for me. In the beginning, I envisioned selling the necklaces but by no means had a concrete business plan. Once I had the idea to make necklaces, I spent hours doing online research on suppliers, manufacturers, etc. I am pretty aggressive so I just started calling anyone and everyone who may be a good lead. I heard the word “no” a lot and ran into quite a few dead ends, but eventually I ended up connecting with the right people. I may not have known everything about the ins and outs of the jewelry business, but I work hard, study and ask others for help!
3. Have a support system!
Having a support system in place that agrees and backs your decision to transition into a new career is crucial! As it is a big change for everyone. I couldn’t have done what I did without the unconditional love and support of my husband, Ellis. Of course, trust instincts and follow your heart, but without having the full support of the people in your life, it will make for a more difficult transition.
4. Take a Risk!
Don’t be afraid to take a risk… I took a chance and sent Pippa Middleton one of my monogrammed pendant necklaces. I knew there was a 99% chance she wouldn’t even receive it, but there was the 1% chance she may and that could change everything. I saw her in the necklace and couldn’t believe it! Things have never been the same. A truly priceless risk.
Have thick skin…act like “Teflon” and don’t let any of the “no’s” or “negativity” stick to you. Know that behind a successful business, that as many times as we’ve heard “yes”, we’ve heard “no” about 100 times more! Knowing what’s truly important and where your priorities lie allow you to take risks and not be disappointed or upset if they don’t work out or you hear a “no”!
Pick your head up, dust yourself off and start again. Try and try again. Be persistent, stay positive and don’t’ be afraid to take a risk.
5. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Great things take time…don’t put too much pressure on yourself…you’re only one person and there is only so much you can get done in one day…give yourself some grace!
Knowing you can’t do it all by yourself and that you don’t know everything is a freeing place to start. Successful careers and businesses aren’t built overnight…
Owning and starting your own company is a serious challenge, but definitely worth the hard work and worth the wait!
Photography: Julie Soefer