Why I Gave Up My Dream Job for the Adventure of a Lifetime
I often get asked how I got started in my jewelry business.
It’s always been important to me to create an interesting life for myself.
I was so lucky to have been exposed to a life filled with interesting people and places because of the work my father does. He is a world-renowned materials scientist and leader in nanotechnology, the study and application of extremely small matter that can be used across a variety of fields. He has always traveled the world for his work and his colleagues are from all corners of the world. I was exposed to this early on and this was my basis for curiosity and adventure. My mom even said from the minute she met my dad she knew she would have a very interesting life with him. As far back as I can remember, it’s been important for me to create these opportunities in my own life…
I suppose I always knew I would have my own business someday. I wanted it to be creative and an extension of me. By that, I mean I didn’t ever want to feel like I had to go to work, rather that my work was purely something I contributed to the world and got satisfaction from. My original business, Susanne Siegel Designs, started somewhat serendipitously. It was around 2003 and I had been in the advertising world for a while. I was actually doing the job that I thought I had always wanted to do; national advertising sales for a major publishing house, in this case Hearst Publishing. However, I found myself very unfulfilled emotionally, because I realized I yearned for work that mattered to me more. Simultaneously, on the side, I was designing and creating different types of jewelry and giving them to family and friends as gifts. I loved how people reacted to my designs and my pieces were starting to get noticed when I wore them out in public. I was actually considering starting a business around it.
By the end of that year, I decided to leave my corporate job and make a go of it. Friends and colleagues asked if I was scared to leave the safety net of a very comfortable corporate salary. My response was that I was more scared of wasting another year doing what I wasn’t passionate about.
I had spent a lot of time coming up with my logo, brand colors, website, packaging, etc. and I left my job towards the end of that year. To mark the beginning of my new adventure, I decided I needed an impactful trip to start my journey. Thailand, Cambodia and Hong Kong where my destinations of choice. I had been wanting to go to Thailand for a long time. I also knew that I would be able to find beautiful gemstones there because Thailand is one of the largest gem trading marketplaces in the world... Was I ever right about that?!
It was my first gem buying trip and I brought back a treasure trove of sparkling goodies:
- and so much more!
I could hardly carry everything I brought back! That trip was transformative for so many reasons. We saw and had so many incredible experiences. It reinforced to me the importance of getting out of your comfort zone, pushing yourself and making your life extraordinary.
I was so inspired by all my gem purchases, I sought out a more formal gem education. While I knew what I was buying in theory and have a good eye, I wanted to be sure and learn more so I could confidently know what I was buying and then selling to my clients. Through much research I found the Gemological Institute of America. From there I decided to enroll in classes. At first, I was just interested in learning more about colored stones, since that’s primarily what I used in my designs. I wanted to be able to know whether a gemstone was natural or synthetic, treated or not and what kind of treatments are stable and acceptable. This knowledge would let me more confidently buy natural gemstones and be able to offer more information to my clients. Later, through advice from many in the fine jewelry industry, I decided to round out my studies on diamonds and earned my Graduate Gemologist diploma.
My business took root slowly as I reached out to stores in cherry-picked markets about carrying my designs and taking part in select art and gift shows. I recently launched Susanne Siegel Custom Jewelry, deciding to pivot my business and focus on custom jewelry so I can work directly with my clients. One of my favorite things is still the interactions I have with others in this industry: designers, manufacturers, gem dealers, etc. My business has grown, it has changed, and I continuously meet fascinating people from all corners of the world. I try always to put myself in interesting situations, so I am constantly learning and growing.
It is MORE, in every way, than I possibly could have imagined. It is more fun, more interesting, more challenging (and also more stressful), more rewarding and more fulfilling than I ever could have expected. So, as I have always planned,I continue to strive for a life of adventure and rich experiences.
I hope you’ll stay up to date on my exciting journey and follow me on Instagram and Facebook. When you join my mailing list, you'll get your own free gemstone guide showing gemstones from all over the world. Maybe you're traveling to one of these places and going to bring back a special stone. I'd love to design a beautiful piece of jewelry for you that reminds you of your own adventure. My passion is to create something beautiful you will cherish for years to come. Whether you have an idea of what you want or are coming to me for ideas from start to finish, I’d love to work with you! You may also have jewelry you don’t wear that you’d like redesigned into something new, I would love to reimagine it into your next favorite piece of jewelry!