3 (Fairly Useful) Life Lessons My Handmade Jewelry Business Taught Me

Posted on

Have you heard someone say, ‘I didn’t rescue my dog; he rescued me’?

I wish I could say the same about Moose. But, honestly...he’s pretty damn spoiled. I mean, he gets to watch soap operas and sip chardonnay all day while I’m at work.

(Is there a rescue group for struggling adults? Asking for a friend.)

However, I can say my handmade jewelry business rescued me.


three fairly useful life lessons my handmade jewelry business taught me

When I started college, I didn’t think about the possibility of
not getting a job. I just thought that’s what happened. College graduation = job.  

photo of Kate going to college with her Dad

*me and my Dad off to college (notice his excitement and my uncertainty)

Fate has a way of laughing at the foolish.  

But June 2003 was the beginning of the downturn in hiring. And, wouldn’t you know it, I was graduating one day and moving back in with my parents the next.  

I swore to myself it would never happen. But, there I was in my parents spare bedroom, a college graduate with no job.  Dreams dashed.  Plans for world domination, extinguished (temporarily). I began applying to anything and everything

I started hostessing at a restaurant and then scored a cocktail waitressing job at a local casino. Shortly after that, I got an interview for an internship program.

And by the spring, my bags were packed and I left Washington State for my first ‘adult’ job that sorta kinda used my degree. Okay, not really, but it beat the labor intensive (and back breaking) cocktail waitressing.

Shortly after starting my new job, fate laughed at me again. I realized:

1. Adulting is hard 
2. There are few options out there for women who like to wear colorful jewelry (that doesn’t look like it belongs to a 12-year-old)
3. Entry level work = not a lot of money to buy colorful jewelry for work 

The idea was sparked! It would take a moment, but that’s when Kate and Moose rescued me. By handcrafting my own jewelry, I added a bit of joy and color into my dreary corporate cubicle life.

Running a successful handmade jewelry business has taught me a few things about not taking life too seriously. While also being serious….seriously.

First, get comfortable with failure

Do you think the first pair of earrings I created look good?

Hell yeah! They were fabulous. But the second pair - let's call them a learning experience.  

Whether you want a raise, a new job, or to start your own side hustle, get comfortable with failure. Greet that salty bitch with a firm handshake. Success won’t happen overnight. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle --- comparisonitis kills.

But, when you do succeed, celebrate it! Every time my phone rings out like a cash register (I MADE A SALE!), I do a little happy dance. Every. Single. Time (drives Moose to drink more chardonnay).

Then, get uncomfortable with life

There won’t ever be a time where you feel 100% ready for anything. Like, having a kid, starting a business, buying a home, rescuing a dog, or getting married.

So, get outside of your comfort zone!

I questioned how much inventory I would need and whether I was "good enough"  long before I applied to my first craft show. But, I signed up for local festivals and got in front of people and started selling jewelry. Other like-minded business owners helped me learn how to file taxes, apply for shows, and even handle my first negative review.

Kate and Moose Craft Show Set-Up

When you put yourself out there, you’re able to find the support you need to succeed.  You can not just exist in this life. You have got to try to live.

Also, find inspiration in (un)obvious places

Everyone knows you can find inspiration in nature, music, and Ryan Gosling’s eyes.

But, I love to look in unusual places for inspiration for my work. I listen in on conversations at coffee shops. I savor every bite of my meal. I stop to notice what’s around me (when I’m not in the middle of traffic -- learned that the hard way). And I invest in continuous education, like photography.

my first online sale

*a photo of my first sale 

Because the key is to break the cycle

Do something different. It can be as simple as adding a pop of color to your wardrobe or as adventurous as skydiving (if you need a recommendation in CO or DC, drop me a line). If you aren’t sure where to start, why not let this pair of earrings rescue you?


Related Posts

Get Color Inspired: How Our Hand-Crafted Jewelry is Made
Get Color Inspired: How Our Hand-Crafted Jewelry is Made
Do you watch Shark Tank? It’s one of my favorite shows to binge watch after a long day at work.  Besides all the “why...
Read More
A Morning Routine That Boosts Your Creativity For A Successful Day
A Morning Routine That Boosts Your Creativity For A Successful Day
All the rage in self-development is a morning routine. Especially one that makes you more productive during the day....
Read More
37 Things You Never Knew About Kate and Moose
37 Things You Never Knew About Kate and Moose
It's APRIL! Happy birthday to me! In honor of turning 37, I thought it would be fun to share some fun facts you never...
Read More
behind the brand

← Older Post Newer Post →


  • Hi Kate, thank you so very much for sharing your story……it has inspired me with further thought to getting back to my joy and love of creating beautiful jewelry. I love your word compareitis! I swing out of it from time to time, a demon to surely conquer ……I personally don’t think we should compare as that’s the first sign of you heading into trouble…… And not the good kind! Thank you for your site and the fun, beautiful jewelry you create! Donna

    Donna on
  • I love every inch of your story!! Made me small and laugh out loud.

    Cindy Liebel on

Leave a comment



Kate of Kate and Moose

I'm Kate, the hand-crafter and color creator here at Kate & Moose.  Pizza is my happy place second only to my side kick and shop dog, Moose.  Kick off your shoes, grab a glass of wine, and read on to be encouraged to jump into color.   


join the Colorful Insiders List



Five Ways to Add Color to Your Life Email Sign Up



Some Kate & Moose blog posts contain contextual affiliate links. An affiliate link means that I receive a commission on sales of the products that are linked to in my posts. So if you click on a link and make a purchase from an affiliate site, then I may make a commission from that purchase. I also work with affiliate links, on occasion, on my Pinterest page. All content copyrighted by Kamarelo Designs.  I appreciate your support of Kate & Moose!

artist spotlight behind the brand boost your 'tude capsule wardrobe collaboration fashion gift guide instagram minimalism shop local shop small travel