For women like us who have spent numerous years creating our identities around our work or our families, taking a step in a new direction can feel like a katydid molting its exoskeleton. It’s unsettling and liberating in equal measures, possibly painful–we can’t ask the katydid–and we suspect, itchy.
Here we share stories of women who have scratched a new itch. We hope these stories may provide the insight and encouragement for others to leave their old skin–familiar and easy as it is–and go into a new world a little naked and scared. But not alone.
For our first installment, we’re happy to highlight the work of Emily Vickers of Hopewell, New Jersey.
What kind of work or passion are you pursuing now?
My passion now is to keep myself open and free to move in whatever direction feels right in the moment. My current obsession is my botanical millinery. I call them Fastenaturals, Bespoke Botanical Millinery. I exhibit them and give demonstrations on how they’re made; I make them as gifts for friends and sell to people willing to spend what they’re worth. I also work in leather and denim, making unique bags and wearable art-pieces. I have a thriving business coaching Tribe-aged women in my private Pilates studio and have a side-gig as a pro-age model, currently producing videos for BOOM! Cosmetics for their new Ambassador Program. FUN!
How old were you when you began in this new direction?
What did you do before you made this change?
I was a freelance producer for professional photographers, coordinating large commercial photo shoots for clients such as AT&T, Mercedes, Porsche, Got Milk? and other high-end corporations. The work was unique; no two jobs were ever the same. It involved a lot of travel and the opportunity to do things that were off-limits to most people. Like shutting down major highway off-ramps for hours at a time or helicoptering between jagged Alaskan mountain ranges in a snowstorm.
What prompted you to make this change?
The industry changed after the recession in 2009. My partner Tom Mason (also my husband) and I had built a solid reputation as producers of automobile advertising shoots. As you might recall, the recession hit the auto industry pretty hard. Budgets decreased; stress increased. We were also starting to the ‘age out’ in an industry, which favors the youthful, hungry folks. As time passed, our exciting and creative field became tedious and strained.
What from your previous work or life situation helped you in your reinvention?
My work as a producer taught me that nothing was beyond my abilities. Once you’ve dealt with the Russian Mob via the internet to secure entry for a crew of 15 to conduct a major ad campaign featuring a WNBA star who happened to working off-season in Moscow, there’s little that seems daunting. Or the time we had a Jeep airlifted to the top of a Butte in Monument Valley.
What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome?
Fortunately not many. I simply woke up one day and said: “Enough! I refuse to spend another moment of my time on a conference call with a bunch of clueless account reps who just want to hear themselves talk!” My husband/partner and I took a look at our finances, figured out how to budget ourselves and simply stopped taking calls from new clients.
What fears did you have to face?
I was lucky to have faced the concept of fear and stared it down long ago. I simply choose to open myself to possibilities and trust what the universe, in its infinite wisdom, has out there for me. Fear is a useless, soul-draining emotion. Every moment we spend fearing what might happen is preventing our experiencing what’s right in front of us. Live now!!
What kind of support did you receive in your reinvention?
Tons! from friends, strangers, and my wonderful soul-mate husband.. Family, not so much, but that’s a whole other story and I’ve put that to rest as well.
How have you grown or how has your life improved as a result of taking on this new pursuit?
By leaps and bounds. I have so much more confidence, energy, creativity, tolerance, humor, and sense of accomplishment.
What advice would you give to other women at this age who are looking to reinvent themselves?
Take a good look at your life; if you don’t wake up every morning with something great (large or small) to look forward to in your everyday plans, then it’s time to rethink how you’re living your life.
Top photo by Donna Grossman