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Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Road to Reinvention... is littered with Handbags?

Our NEWEST pattern- The Quattro

Thanks Madame Samm for the invitation to talk to you today! 

My name’s Kat Southern, head creator at StudioKat Designs, and today I’d like to share a little bit about how I got started as an independent pattern designer. Then hop on over to my Blogto enter our special giveaway in honor of Sew I Quilt! (There'll be a special link at the bottom of this post.)

I get a lot of questions from folks who are interested in how I went about starting this pattern business. And it's when people find out that prior to the start-up, I spent 29 years managing a wastewater lab for a municipality, that the inevitable questions about 're-invention' comes up...

      What made you think you could succeed?...

      How did you know where to start?...

     Weren't you scared of taking such a big chance or by doing something so different from anything you'd done before?...

And that’s when the term reinvention comes up. Now I know that reinvention is often spoke of nowadays as a desirable thing, after all, they say Cher reinvents herself every 10 years right? But somehow, the term ‘reinvention just  feels wrong to me. It seems to hint that in some way I was broken before. Reinvention sounds like maybe I just wasn't good enough as I was.

But what if we just look at this another way? What if our goal was instead, to use our time in our 20s, 30s and 40s, to collect skills and knowledge, and gain experience, expertise and wisdom.  Things like job changes, failures, disappointments, layoffs, hobbies and evening classes would simply be viewed as a means of clarifying what we really want and love to do… a means of discovering our natural gifts, inclinations and strengths. 

I once read an article that described this type of progression as a means of 'defining your reach'. The basic premise was that when we reach our 40s, 50s and 60s and beyond, we’ll be prepared to combine all these various life experiences and be ready to do the work that we've always been destined to do. I like this. It feels right to me somehow. Maybe that's because I'm in my 50s now, but maybe it's not...

In my case, the 29 years I spent in an analytical lab was very heavily left-brained, and for the most part, I enjoyed it, but maybe that's why my off-time was filled with right-brained activities. I learned to play a clarinet in my 30s and joined an orchestra.

I became obcessed with sewing and all types of needle-work, designing window treatments and various home décor items for my house and my friends. I secretly dreamed of starting a home-based business, and 'tried on' several possibilities while I still had the safety net of a fulltime job, before finally developing my vision for handbag design.

So did I reinvent myself? I think not. Rather, I like to think that I created a plan that allowed me to learn all the things I needed to learn, so that when the time was right, (at age 51), I’d finally be able to do what I loved. I learned HTML, and read every book I could find (seriously, I really did!) about small home-based businesses in general and the crafting businesses in particular.

But here’s the deal, it all happened so slowly and gradually that I don't recall feeling like I was taking a leap at all. Rather, it felt more like I was FINALLY pulling together all my interests and AT LAST getting to do what I was always destined to do. And I’m pleased to say that 6 years and 24 patterns later, I’m STILL learning new things, and the release of my very first eBook this week is just one more little course adjustment in our progression. 
So what about you? Are you intentionally developing your natural abilities? Are you using your occasional disappointments and setbacks to fine tune your vision for your future? And what steps can you take today, to get you further your growth? 
So how's about leave me a comment here and then...
answer the following question about this post 
for a chance to win our special GIVEaway in honor of Sew We Quilt! 

What would YOUR dream job be?  

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StudioKat Designs on the Web


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43 comments:

  1. I love the article! It was great! Love your purses, too!
    Thanks for sharing your story and your bags!

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  2. Gosh that was nice to read. I guess I'm not too old to do something different. I'm in my 40s.. and really enjoying my new adventure into quilting.. but sometimes feel I'm too old to try new things.. other times I feel I'm right where I sould be.. and other times I'm itching to design.. I just really wish I could draw better than I can.

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  3. Not sure about my dream job...I might still be gathering my skills! I have been fortunate to have loved working in my profession for many years, and now am loving being back at University!

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  4. Love your bags and the organizing inserts. I am retired and just plan on enjoying it.

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  5. Thanks for this, I am in the process of going through transition and am at a crossroads trying to decide what to do next. This article helps me see things in a new light. Thanks you. :)

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  6. Thanks for sharing. I am trying to learn from mistakes and past failures. Trying to enjoy one day at a time.

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  7. What a great insight into your journey to the perfect job. I agree reinvention just doesn't work for me either.

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  8. Great post. Love the purses and the inserts.

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  9. Absolutely. At sixty something, I don't keep track, I've been a kept woman, a stay at home homemaker. LOL It's a dream job but I've been gathering the skills you speak of along the way. Luv your bags!

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  10. I couldn't agree more - I spent all that time and effort learning where I am today AND I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER. I, too, had a very left-brained career (multiple, in fact) and only discovered my creativity when I retired at 64.

    Hugs - Marie

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  11. Excellent, thought provoking post. In a perfect world, we would all be working out of our passions. Unfortunately, too many people are too busy to even discover what it is that they are passionate about! I am glad you have been able to make it work in your life! Right now I am passionate about homeschooling my daughter; sewing and quilting come next, but it is not my full season for that yet!

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  12. Oh getting to love what you do is always the best!! Love the purse inserts!! Thanks for sharing.

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  13. You are RIGHT on. I work full time for a Computer Retailer. I shoot photography part time for myself. I quilt because I enjoy it.

    Right now my passion is making sure my family is cared for, thus the good stable job that is paying the bills. As soon as the kids are grown and move out, I can almost guarantee my passion will change.

    I will pursue the things I enjoy more and will not worry so much about having the income... By then the house will be paid for, there won't be soccer fees, dance classes, or outrageous automobile insurance bills to pay. As a result, I will have the luxury of allowing my passions to change, but for now the kids come first and quilting comes second...

    Seasons. Some are short, some are long, but embrace each one and life will be good.

    Paul
    www.OutnumberedQuilter.com

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  14. Oh I think I'm still honing those skills, but definitely with the aim of doing the quilting I love! Just not yet :) What a great read, very inspirational, and inspiring to know there is still time and despite my age I've still not hit my prime :) thank you :)

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  15. Dream job? Is age 44 too late to be a princess?Seriously, I haven't figured that one out yet! I'd kind of like to go back to school, but prolly not gonna happen.

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  16. I think I already had my dream job , a mother to three sons , nothing could be better but if I could perhaps I would love to write childrens books. Great post , thanks .

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  17. You worded this all so well! Bravo!

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  18. So encouraging as I am currently working full-time with the desire to eventually work from home in a sewing/quilting shop. Glad to know that others have done it before be....and I love the sunflower bag!

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  19. Lovely bags! Even my husband thought so!

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  20. Thanks for sharing- as a 26 yr old "domestic engineer" who just filled out yet another job application, I wish I could dive in and be my own boss, but I'm just not there yet. It's nice to see that it won't have to be given up!

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  21. First of all, I LOVE your bags and I'm in serious "like" with those purse inserts! I do need one of those,,,the industrial size one! I am so right there with you about age and doing what you love. I taught for 30+ years and retired in Dec. 08. I'm getting to live my dream of only doing what I want, WHEN I want!! Quilting and Grandchildren are top priority...Life is Good!
    Blessings
    Gmama Jane

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  22. Thanks for a terrific post - lots to think about. Your bags are awesome. Congrats on your continuing evolution - life is a journey and it's not always a straight line. Continued success...piece.

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  23. You are so right, loved your blog! Well, I always said I wanted to find a job that would pay me to stay home. After working 35 years, I am now retired and get my tiny retirement pay every month. Someone finally pays me to stay home!

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  24. I love your purses, inserts and mostly your thoughts! Loved your blog too!
    Maria

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  25. I so enjoyed your message today, maybe because of my age (61), as you mentioned. You spoke so well about using our younger years to grow in many ways. I'm rather behind you in terms of developing my creative life, but the years have given me the confidence to try; I hope to begin selling fabric landscapes later in the year.
    I hope your message finds it's way around the web to women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. In fact, I'll send this link to my daughter.
    Thanks very much.

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  26. I loved this post. I am 53 and I have wanted to open a fabric/yarn shop for quite a few years. But we live outside a small town and it seems nothing stays in business here. I think I will just continue to create at home for my family.

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  27. I loved what you talked about in the blog today and as I am 68 I Think I reinvented myself many times but now I just do what makes me happiest.

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  28. Great post, Kat! You are truly an inspiration to me. Thank you for taking the time to off encouragement and show us a lot of quilty love. :)

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  29. Gorgeous bags and I don't think 29 years of 'paid' research on your dream enterprise was too long. Always better to find out about any potential pitfalls beforehand so you're better prepared :).

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  30. Hi Kat, thank you for sharing your path to becoming a purse designer. ~~Lisa

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  31. I'm in my 50's as well and I'm on my 3rd 'reinvention!

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  32. Oh Kat thanks for the uplifting chat.

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  33. Hooray for you, for finding what you love and being successful! Thanks Madame, for another winning guest blogger.

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  34. Thanks ever so much for all the nice comments! I feel like i could leap tall buildings right now!

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  35. I read this post and commented about a week ago and then it disappeared. Apparently my comment wasn't saved.

    I love the idea of your purse inserts. What a fabulous was to stay organized. Thanks

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  36. What a great post!! You have so just explained how I feel about my life...except I'm just getting to the finding out what my calling is :) It's so ironic, your topic because this transition of life has so been on my mind lately and trying to figure out what my calling is. Thank you so much for such a great read! Heading over to see your blog now! OH, and btw love the The Boho Baguette!

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  37. Love your explanation! and I love Studio Kat handbags!

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  38. I love it!! It is a very important part of life to understand that your early years is a collecting time. And that the later years are a using of what you collected time. Thank you for putting this into prospective for me. I am 39 and I am enjoying my time of using. I know that I have more to collect but this is a good season for me!

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  39. Great article! I always love hearing about "where" people come from and how they got to where they are today.
    Congratulations on getting to do your dream job!

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  40. Thanks for writing the guest article - very interesting.

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  41. Do I have an answer for this question! My dream job would be unloading the trucks and drop off bins for the GoodWill!!!! Just think of all the yummy stuff I would find!
    Deb

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  42. I never really thought of "reinvention", but I definitely like your explanation of building the skills of experience. I've been sewing, since I was 7years old (started in 4-H) and have been building on those skills for lots of years. I would love to have a job where I have access to all the quilting fabrics --- and the space to store them and the time to use them!

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