During the process of deciding to leave the public service and do something different, I was lucky enough to have some good friends to chat with about their career changes. I found it really useful to talk with someone I knew about what they had done and the challenges they had faced.
I’m really excited that some of them have agreed to share their stories on the blog.
First up is my good friend Jenny, who I worked with in China and who was also a public servant. Having known her for many years, and seen what she had done setting up her fantastic eco home wares online store State of Green was really an inspiration. She gave me a lot of confidence to take the leap, so I am excited to share this interview with Jen on the blog.
- What did you do before?
I was a Commonwealth public servant working in law enforcement for 18 years, during which I spent time working in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, China and The Philippines. It was a job I very much enjoyed which exposed me to a wide and diverse group of people from all walks of life.
- What are you doing now?
I run my own business named State of Green. State of Green is an online eco homewares store. I also run a blog under the same name, sharing my eco design finds and news from around the globe.
- What made you decide to take the leap and change careers?
I struggled with the decision to leave the public service for quite a few years! When I had my first child I started to work part-time 3 days a week. 18 months later I had my second child, and two years after that my third child. I continued to juggle family with my part-time public service career, however I found it difficult to juggle the two – sick children, school events, work training requirements, occasional interstate travel and limited work opportunities as a part time employee prompted me to look for an alternative. Whilst on maternity leave (between #2 and #3 child) I launched State of Green. I have always loved nature, the environment and design. State of Green gave me the opportunity to change focus, and provided a creative outlet enabling me to curate my own store, meet with inspiring designers and to work flexibly.
- What has your career change given you?
I had to take one mighty big breath leaving the security of my previous career. The career change has given me a better work / life balance. I am the only one responsible for watching the clock. I work when I please during the day, and during the evening. But also get to catch up with friends, do exercise and attend school events. I feel more in control of all aspects of my life, and less stressed about juggling it all. I also get satisfaction from seeing my business steadily grow. It is not all beer and skittles, but it has certainly removed a weight from my shoulders.
- What have you learned?
So much! You do have to work hard when running your own business. There is no one else to blame or rely on but yourself. You also have to be prepared to become a jack of all trades and be prepared to learn, learn, learn! On any given day I am an accountant, secretary, buyer, shopkeeper, writer, interviewer, researcher, marketer, and IT expert (used very loosely!). Of course there are some roles I enjoy more than others (admin grrrr), but you do need to prioritise, plan and just get on with it. I have also learnt there are many other people willing to share their own experiences. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – It can save you A LOT of time down the track.
- Is there anything you would do differently?
Mmmm – When I first launched my online store I paid big bucks to get my website designed, but had little control over making changes to it without paying more money. Although I did not possess the skills then, looking back I could have spent far less on designing the site myself through an ecommerce site such as BigCommerce or Shopify. They are perfect for start-ups as they offer pre-designed themes at little cost. Forking out money for beautiful bespoke sites is great, but perhaps I could have saved that for later as the store grew.
- Inspire us with your favourite quote, mantra or piece of advice for anyone else thinking of a career change.
I do love a Dr Seuss quote, particularly this one:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
— Dr. Seuss, from The Lorax, 1971
Whilst this quote does refer to our care and concern for protecting the environment, I think it also applies to those thinking of a career change. Don’t be stuck in a career that no longer works for you. We only live once so make it worth your while. Where one door closes, others open. Be open to advice, speak to people, undertake training if needed, network. Opportunities rarely land on your lap – be prepared to actively pursue the future you want and things will start falling into place.
- Where can people learn more about you and the things you are doing?
Pop on over to the State of Green store or blog! Join me on social media – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram (just started to embrace the latter!). Or better still, send me an email or give me a call.