This beginning of April was a bit of a milestone for me: It’s been five years since my move to San Francisco. My mid-twenties have brought so many new experiences my way. It’s been the most focused span of my life. I’m reminded each day why I moved to the Bay Area, and am thankful that what I set out to accomplish is steadily coming to fruition.
When I left Michigan, I packed up whatever essentials would fit into my tiny Mazda sedan. I filled it floor to ceiling and strapped a car top carrier on the roof, ready to set out for San Francisco. My head was filled with idyllic notions of life in a new state. I wanted to immerse myself in the jewelry industry and I had scored a job with a couture jewelry designer. I was moving to find a sense of community, as well as romance and adventure. But mostly, I was moving away because I had never done it before. I had yet to experience the feeling of a clean slate.
In truth though, those first few months were incredibly difficult. It was a struggle to settle in and to get by. I had a hard time scraping together $650 each month to rent a room from a complete stranger. I owned no furniture because I sold everything that didn’t fit in my car and used the profits for cross-country gas money. I found it was difficult as an adult to land in a new city and make new friends. I had always met new people through school and work, and now my coworkers were all 20 years my senior (thankfully, they were amazing to me anyway). I spent the first year wondering how and where I would be able to create jewelry again. I was out of my element and out of practice.
After those first few months, things began to change. One by one, everything clicked into place. One good friend led me to meet more. I was introduced to the man who would later become my husband. We explored the city. We camped. We travelled. I wound up with a 2 bedroom apartment in an awesome central neighborhood. More friends moved to San Francisco. Sadly, some moved away.
My first great jewelry job led me onto the next. I gained incredible insight into launching, expanding, and maintaining my own business. I sold diamonds, worked trade shows, filled wholesale orders, sold jewelry, launched websites and managed marketing. I began making jewelry again, at first in the basement of my apartment building before moving to my first studio in the mission. I wrote a business plan and when the demand for my collection grew, I left my day job. All the while I continued to make jewelry. Hundreds upon hundreds of pieces of jewelry.
I had once agonized over the fear of meeting new friends and peers. Now, I’m blown away by the jewelry community I’m entrenched in. San Francisco’s industry scene is everything I’d dreamed of. It’s talented, personal, and youthful. I feel connected to and supported by my fellow jewelers.
As this five-year anniversary approached things leveled up again, as if right on cue. I moved from a tiny studio in the mission to a spacious shop in downtown San Francisco. My studio originally shipped to San Francisco on a 200lb palette. Now I was filling a U-Haul van to the brim. At the same time my husband and I were purchasing our first home in Oakland. We moved in this week, leaving behind that quaint 2-bedroom in SF for a place so awesome and huge that it hardly feels like real life.
With each box I packed and lifted this month I’ve been reminded of my simple start five years ago. I’m humbled by what I’ve acquired and experienced. Some opportunities we get through a stroke of luck. Most we have to make for ourselves. All of which I am very, very thankful for.
[January 2010- Sending my love back home from cold and windy San Francisco]