Blame it on a piece of jewelry. In 2000, San Diego-based marketing and sales rep Linda Wente fell in love with an amethyst necklace that was out of her price range. She resigned to the fact that she couldn’t afford it when, a few weeks later, she went back to the store and it was on sale. But as the sales clerk wrapped it up, the necklace broke and the gems came loose. “I was so upset!” says Wente. “My friend said, ‘Just tell her you’ll buy the beads for $30 and then you can fix it.’ I had no idea what I was doing, but I went to a local bead store, repaired it and then I just couldn’t stop! I made necklaces, bracelets, earrings, you name it. It was like opening a Pandora’s Box.”
It took another ten years before she had the courage to venture out on her own. Today, a mere two years after launching her jewelry company Perlin Design, Wente’s pieces are sold in stores from Los Angeles to Sydney, as well as on her website, www.perlindesign.com.
Her moment of truth:
I’d worked in the corporate world for more than ten years. At the time, the economy was grim. I was working two jobs at the same company and I kept thinking there has to be more than this to my life! I was making jewelry for my friends’ weddings and birthdays and people kept telling me I should do it for a living. But I was afraid. I always thought they were only saying it to be nice. Finally, a friend said, ‘We’re not saying it to be nice so just get over yourself!’
Her best advice:
There are three things you should think about if you want to start your own business. First, surround yourself with people you can learn from so you don’t repeat the same mistakes others have already made. It’s great to find networking groups with people you can learn from and get feedback from, and also get some positive energy to keep you going. Second, keep your day job until you know if there’s a chance your business will work. And last, even though you’ll be really passionate about what you’re doing, you need to take a day off here and there to recharge. A supportive husband or partner is good, too!
Her design philosophy:
I prefer to work with stones that are easy to find and not too perfect. I find them more interesting. Diamonds are beautiful, but to me they’re not that interesting. I try to be mindful of the environment, so I don’t like to use materials that are super rare. I prefer stones that are locally found and from the United States, since that’s where I live. Some of my favorite stones are tourmaline, aqua marine, amethyst and prehnite. I also like stones to be interesting in themselves. A lot of stones have meaning. They have a healing purpose. And that’s important to me.
Her hottest item:
Right now, it’s the silk cords with the charms. I went through a phase in my life where I was experiencing a lot of stress, and I found that meditation and yoga was really helpful. That’s how the silk cords began. I used to have them wrapped around my wrists as I was working, and I would look at the Buddha charm and it reminded me to slow down. Then I found that other people liked them, too.
Her life now:
It’s still a little scary! But when I think about what I’ve done these past two years, it feels pretty amazing. If you go out on a limb and pursue what you love, you’ll be put in situations you’d never thought you could handle. And you’ll handle them! That feels pretty great. I’m more confident now. I’m more at ease with myself. I found my passion by accident, and it’s made my life so much richer.
Photography by Ulrica Wihlborg ©2012.