This past week I had the opportunity to interview Hannah Florman about her move from corporate America into the world of jewelry design. Corporate litigation and jewels just didn’t seem to fit in the same sentence — until Hannah shared her story. Her message was so powerful in it’s simplicity — “your work in life is to find your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” Today Hannah is pursuing her passion to create jewelry that tells the story of each of her clients. See what inspired Hannah to make the switch and the five tips she shared that you need to remember when turning your hobby into a career.
What made you take the leap from corporate America to jewelry design?
It’s actually a little bit of a crazy story – but I promise I’m not crazy!
I had been unhappy at my job for a while. I wasn’t passionate or excited about the work I was doing, and missed having (positive) personal relationships with people through my work.
I started making jewelry for myself and some family members around the time of my wedding. My husband, who is in the high end watch business, connected me with some wholesale diamond dealers who would help me make my pieces. I used it as a creative outlet and really enjoyed it, but didn’t think about leaving my job to do it full time.
A couple weeks before my wedding, I went looked through my Mom’s jewelry, who passed away while I was in college. I found a bracelet of hers that read, “your work in life is to find your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” The quote really spoke to me, and I felt like my mom was sharing her wisdom with me when I needed it the most. As I started wearing her bracelet, I realized how powerful and special that bracelet was, even though it was just a piece of engraved silver on a leather strap. It was that moment I decided to follow my gut, and turn my hobby into my career.
What advice would you give an individual toying with the idea of such a leap?
- Have a plan and be ready for some road blocks. I stayed at my job for 4 months after I decided to leave, and would work on a business plan after work and on the weekends. I made sure I could financially support myself without a salary for a couple months before putting in my notice.
- You also have to be ready for some people in your life to think you’re absolutely crazy! But stick to your gut, and the people who truly care about you will support you.
How do you leverage your foray in corporate America in your jewelry design or business?
There were some obvious things from my past job that helped when I was starting a business – such as legally incorporating my business, being able to review my own legal documents, and just being overall more aware of my risks and liabilities.
At my corporate job, I also learned that clients are the happiest when they feel like they are in the loop, and trust the person they’re working with. I continue to focus on these two things in my new business. Even if a piece of jewelry is going to take 3 weeks to make, I’ll check in with them after a week and let them know how the process is going. I also want my clients to trust me. I try to do this by educating my clients and making them feel like they are making an informed decision, without pushing any purchases on them.
What are the must haves when we are looking to purchase jewelry?
- A trusted jeweler! Fine jewelry is incredibly hard to navigate – you can go to two jewelry stores and look at a diamond the same shape and size, and there can be a $20,000 dollar difference between them. If you use a jeweler you trust, you should feel educated in your decision, and confident in the price you are paying.
- A budget. I always tell my clients to have a budget, and a “high number.” Their budget is what they want to spend, and their high number is the absolute highest they want to go (in the case they find something they absolutely can’t resist).
- Education. If you are buying a diamond, it is extremely important to be educated. It will not only make you more confident in your purchase, but it will help you get the best diamond for your budget. Check out my this link for my 101 on Diamond Education (http://www.hannahflorman.com/4cs)
- The confidence to ask questions. Jewelry is often a HUGE purchase, and you never want to leave unsure of whether you’ve made the right decision. You should feel comfortable asking any questions you have and the jeweler should always be able to answer them.
If you had an opportunity to do a redo would you take the same path?
Absolutely! I may be a little less hard on myself the second time around. I set some unrealistic goals for myself at the beginning, underestimating how long it takes to build a website from scratch or how long it takes to make the perfect sample design. Next time around I would set more realistic goals for myself.
So when turning your hobby into a career:
- Follow your gut
- Set realistic goals
- Develop a plan
- Be ready for road blocks
- Be prepared for naysayers
Are you pursuing your passion? What else would you add? Share your thoughts in the comments.