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Pivoting Out of the Corporate World and Into a New Passion

When Amy Kawadler lost her corporate job after a 29-year career, she forged a new path as a jewelry artist. Here's how you can change gears too.

The Academy Awards, check. The Olympics, check. The Super Bowl, check. Working events like these were normal duties while serving out a 29-year career for a major camera brand. And then one day, the HR department came calling, kindly alerting me that my position had been eliminated. I will admit there might have been a moment of breathlessness as my identity and job had been closely related for so many years.

My first instinct was to seek another position in the big, bad corporate world, but what were the odds of finding an employer that would understand my past contributions and my ADHD?

My identity was wrapped up in my profession; it defined my whole existence as my career was my whole life, now who am I ?

Read More: Becoming a Beginner Again at Midlife: Reinvention Secrets

Finding the Path

Corporate life didn’t always suck, but it took over Amy’s identity.

Over the following few days, I thought long and hard about my options, but I also took the time to ask myself what I wanted out of life. As I wavered, doubted, and second-guessed, my husband said, “You gave over thirty years of your life to the corporate world. Now it’s time to do what you want.”

“Yes, yes,” I said but retreated into the reality I wasn’t entirely sure. I took a mental voyage back through the early years of my creative life and what began to emerge from the cobwebs was my BFA in jewelry and photography from Massachusetts College of Art.

And what resonated more specifically was the “jewelry” part of the equation. This was it. I was going to become a jewelry artist.

Risks and Rewards

Today, Amy finds peace and plenty of rewards as a jewelry artist.

Reinvention doesn’t come without risk, but when you morph from someone designed to serve another’s interest to someone built to serve your own, risk, in some ways, becomes the reward. Within days of making the decision, I felt a creative fire unlike any other. Not everything went according to plan, however. The learning curve was steep, and I lacked what I had in abundance during my corporate career: confidence. I haven’t ever been my own boss, nor had I set my own schedule. I also had to learn how to make the actual jewelry.

The learning curve was steep, and I lacked what I had in abundance during my corporate career: confidence.

My “Amy 3.0 Rebuild,” began with numerous webinars, conference calls, online research, and plenty of visits to suppliers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. I also hired a brand consultant who worked with me to create the perfect studio name. With much relief and excitement, I became “Adorn Reborn, Giving New Life to Old Treasures.”

In technical terms, you could describe me as a “solopreneur.” I am a one-woman operation. Gone are middle managers and in are one-of-kind pieces built by combining vintage finds with contemporary components. Are one-of-a-kind pieces scalable? Who cares? I get so much pleasure from making these beautiful artifacts that the desire for scale never creeps into my thought process. I’ve even had strangers buy pieces directly from my body as I walk the dusty streets of Northern New Mexico.

Being a working artist isn’t easy, and I do miss the relationships I forged during my former career.  My new position doesn’t take me to the Academy Awards, but it does take me to vintage shops and estate sales. And who knows, perhaps one day someone will wear one of my pieces to the Academy Awards or the Olympics. A girl can dream.

Read More: A New Chapter: How and Where to Spread Your Wings

By Amy Kawadler


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