Unusual Career Path – Meet the Maker
What would you consider to be an unusual career path? How about Architect, to Rehabilitation Worker for the Blind, to my own doggy business. Sound like a natural career progression to you? It was for me! Mostly by chance. Let me explain.
Becoming an Architect
I trained as an Architect because I was a creative person, who wasn’t bad at maths and wanted to work with people making something that met their needs. As a teenager I hated the idea that it was considered more of a man’s job (glad to say times have changed since then). It just made me more determined that I could do it.
Before I fully qualified as an architect (with distinction – so looking positive), I worked as a voluntary construction worker building homes for disabled native Canadians in remote parts of the country – in the winter months! I worked alongside young men who had experience in construction, so I learned a lot about the real physical challenges of the building process. In return my architectural skills were handy in translating drawings, and the end users needs, to plan ahead and adapt designs. Although I was extremely nervous (about working somewhere so remote, with people I didn’t know, doing something I had only learned about in theory), it ended up being a once in a lifetime experience that I am so pleased I didn’t run away from, because I learned SO much.
Working as an Architect
Unfortunately the higher I got in my architectural career, the more distanced I became from the end user and less creative. It was more about contracts and finances. I was working my way up the ladder as an Architect, hoping at some point I would actually enjoy it. After 8years as a qualified architect I bit the bullet and made a change (how I decided what to change to, would be another whole chapter).
Architect to Rehabilitation Worker for the Blind
So I put myself back into college as a mature student (self funding), and came out with a distinction in Rehabilitation Studies for the Blind. I went straight into a job and loved every minute of it – working with people and using my creative skills to find solutions to their difficulties. Whilst working I was able to board Guide dogs for the blind that were in training. I worked in the same building as GDBA so was able to have a good relationship with all the trainers, learning LOADS. This was when I also started a family.
It was all working perfectly. UNTIIL…my son was hospitalised with a severe allergic reaction to the guide dog we were boarding. So we made the decision to stop boarding. In the meantime I had worked my way up the ladder again and was now managing the services. Again less end user involvement, less creativity, more finances and contracts.
Bella (co-founder) arrived
So I stepped away from Rehabilitation, and started doing research in education for the blind. Plus I was able to use my architectural skills and knowledge of disability issues to be a disability access auditor. Both of these were freelance positions and involved working from home, so we decided to get a dog. Preferably one with less chance of causing an allergic reaction from my son. That’s when Bella came into our lives. A black miniature Goldendoodle. No one wanted her because she didn’t look like “what it said on the tin”!!
Bella turned my life around. She was a nightmare to train (or maybe it was us), so we went to Puppy classes where they trained us. Eventually they suggested livercake as a high value treat. So I looked up several recipes (with my research head on) and came up with my own. It worked a treat (excuse the pun) and I ended up selling to other pup-parents at class, and in the park. But then a couple of traumatic events happened…
My brother died quite unexpectantly, leaving my family and me devastated. I found it difficult to remain motivated in my work and to be honest I don’t know how I would have coped without Bella. But then Bella started vomiting blood! After many, many investigations they decided that something in shop bought dog food was reacting with her and triggering severe IBS. We tried so many brands, grain free, sensitive tummies the list went on. Eventually (again after a lot of research and professional advice) we turned to raw feeding. It worked! But if I gave her shop bought treats…she was sick again. So I decided to make her some other treats myself (other than just livercake).
Word soon got round and I started taking orders. Cafes started contacting me as their customers with dogs would recommend me. So without me realising, the business unofficially started.
Let them eat cake!
I decided to make Bella a birthday cake. After all, she had helped us through so much (and even more in the future) and we had been so scared at the thought of losing her! It went down so well with her mates at the park, that I started getting orders for more celebration cakes.
The same happened with the pawtraits. I did my first as a thankyou for a friend who always encouraged me to start a dog treats business. She was so touched she showed it off to anyone who would look and so I started getting commissions.
My dog Dog Walking Bags, came about because I wanted a bag that was waterproof, with a separate compartment, robust, easy to access, and adjustable to wear across my shoulder. I could never quite find the right thing and they tended to be quite expensive. So I got one made from a local small business. I got it in bright pink as people were always looking for me in the park, so it was easy to spot. Again orders started flooding in with the first order asking if it could be personalised (I never thought of that!). So everyone wanted theirs personalised!
And now I’m here! learning how to blog and do social media with a happy, healthy Bella as part of our family. I’m always being told I should expand take on staff or premises. But I know from experience to stick with what I love doing – being creative and working with the end user (dog, pup-parent or dog business). So it seems my meandering career path and unexpected traumas led me to where I belong – my own small business making things that make dogs happy and their owners happy. Making people happy – What better job satisfaction is there? So remember if things don’t go as you hoped, as I wrote in my 2021 calendar for January “No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again”
Love and woofs
Celia and Bella
14th January 2021