Upon our 10-year reunion last week, it became very clear how my friends in Korea and I have all taken different paths in life. Jae utilized her skills and education to became a small business owner, myself a DC fundraiser in the international affairs arena, and Ellie a stay-at-home mom and budding entrepreneur. Last week I wrote about Jae’s inspiring accomplishments, which you can read about again here.
This week, I want to focus on Ellie.
I must say, I am not surprised at the path Ellie took in life. Among the three of us friends, she was the first to get married and so far, the only one to have children—two beautiful boys, in fact. And because she and her husband can afford it, Ellie has chosen to be a stay-at-home mom, but that does not mean she isn’t working. It does mean, however, that she has a little more freedom to take on the risks associated with creating her own line of work because of the safety net her husband’s salary provides—but all the power to her for taking advantage of that.
I was inspired by Ellie’s entrepreneurial spirit during our little reunion and had I been in her same shoes, I think I also would have tried to launch my own line of work from the comfort of my home where I could be both a mom and a business woman. For Ellie, it started after she had her first child. Her days at home became long and routine, her social life dwindled. Boredom threatened. So she took it upon herself to learn how to sew, and before she knew it, she had graduated from sewing other people’s patterns to creating her own.
Now, a second child later, she is running a small online shop where she sells her handmade goods: anything from surgical face masks made with trendy fabric and patterns (a common product in South Korea which struggles with poor air quality as China’s heavy pollution and dust from the Golbi Desert have made their way to the peninsula); mug rugs/coasters; washcloths in chic colors, patterns, and shapes; and children’s outfits, especially dresses (for the daughter she doesn’t have, she jokes).
It was really neat to see the little set-up she has at home: a sewing machine, different colored threads and fabrics, and her packaging supplies which also include her own branded tags. It was an absolutely adorable set-up and she seemed really proud about the modest online business she managed to launch.
Of course, like everyone in Korea says about their work, her business doesn’t bring in much money, but it did seem to bring her incredible satisfaction, and I can relate to that because her work has a strong creative angle to it. As I’ve mentioned before, there is something so incredibly satisfying about creating things from your own ideas, making things by hand, designing things based on your own inspirations—that’s exactly what Ellie has managed to do.
She’s very lucky to have found this hobby that she has managed to turn into a small business, and it was great to see the satisfaction it brought her. It made me think of my own struggles in creativity: lack of time, lack of energy, lack of privacy to think and create. I know they sound like excuses, and while they are very real obstacles in my life, I realize I need to find a way around them, because like Ellie, I’m happiest when I’m creating things—to me, it’s a big part of having a truly high-quality life, or at least a satisfying one.