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I'm a Quitter: All About Leaving my Corporate Job to Follow a Dream

Brooke Miller

Posted on June 29 2015

This Lemon Quartz ring was one of the first available in my Etsy shop.

One of the first designs available in my Etsy shop. 

I've been spending quite a bit of time on the new website. As I have been laboring over which type font and photo background best paints the picture of what Porter Gulch is, I realized that I've come a far way from where I started. And now that I have a blog, I have a space to share that story with you. 

As many of you know, I started out my career working in finance in New York. It paid the bills and allowed me to experience the many opportunities of NYC. But what it didn't do was make me happy. In my late twenties I really began to feel down about the direction that my career was headed. I loved the people I worked with and I even got a big promotion, but man, I was SO bored. I contemplated going back to school to become a teacher. I wondered if I was meant to be a yoga instructor (in my defense I was doing a lot of yoga at the time!) I was desperately searching for an exit strategy but nothing seemed right. I really wanted to own my own business but I couldn't figure out what that business would be. 

I then signed up for a silversmithing course at the School of Visual Arts in TriBeCa. On Mondays I would trek into my corporate job with a toolbox full of jewelry making tools so I could head straight to class after work. I fell in love with working with my hands. The first time I soldered something I was terrified. But the satisfaction I felt when I was done was the best! 

 

At the soldering station after setting a green onyx ring.

At the soldering station after setting a green onyx. 

I enrolled in class after class until I realized I wanted a more formal training than the continuing education classes I was taking. I enrolled in a six month fine jewelry school course. The only catch was that I had to take my classes on the weekend since I worked full-time. I had just started dating a really sweet guy (who I'm married to now!) and I remember wondering if being busy every weekend for 6 months would take a toll on that relationship. He was very supportive and I knew I needed to do something for myself, so I did it! It was exhausting. Every weekend I would wake up at 7am in order to get to the studio by 8am. I essentially didn't have a day off for months and months but I also loved that my jewelry making skills were getting so much better. 

In 2009 someone mentioned I should open an Etsy shop. I thought about it and claimed the name "Porter Gulch" on Etsy. Porter Gulch Road is the street where I spent my childhood. We lived in a beautiful house with a big open backyard. My best childhood friend and my sisters and I would ride bikes, eat flowers (I don't know why and yes we got stomach aches...), make potpourri, sleep outside in sleeping bags, climb trees, start clubs, the list goes on and on. I have such happy memories of that time and I thought naming my new adventure after it was just perfect. It wasn't until 2010 that I actually had the nerve to list anything for sale in my Etsy shop. I was so insecure about putting my art out there for the world to see that I almost didn't do it. I kept thinking, you're not a real jewelry designer! You work in finance! Thank goodness I chugged along anyway and put those negative thoughts aside. I started getting sales from people I didn't know. It was the most incredible feeling to be doing something I loved. 

 

Porter Gulch's first sign!

My bestie and I painted this sign in her Brooklyn apartment before my first craft fair. 

In February of 2013 I quit my job after a year of planning and saving money to run Porter Gulch full-time. To say that I was nervous was an understatement. I walked directly into my boss' office. I knew that if I didn't quit immediately I would lose my nerve. A few weeks later, on my first real day as a self-employed woman, as I sat on the train headed to the Diamond District, tears started to fall and they wouldn't stop. I was so happy to be free, amazed at the distance I had come, and thankful for the people in my life who didn't let me settle. My husband, mom, dad, sisters and my "new york family" made me feel like I could do it. I'm forever grateful to them. On my work desk I have a quote by Neale Donald Walsch that reads, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." Isn't that the truth. 

My friends who encouraged me to follow my dreams.

My New York family. 

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7 comments

  • Lu: August 07, 2015

    I’ve been hearing about this post for a while…and I’m so glad I finally read it. It’s so encouraging! You inspire a lot of people Brooke! And you are an awesome artist! – I’m so thankful we were part of your NY family :) Your spirit made our NY experience always positive and energetic!

  • Laura McKee: July 08, 2015

    Brooke! I love this story. You’re designs are so beautiful, you made an excellent decision!

  • Nancy: June 30, 2015

    Brooke, this is a wonderful story. I am so amazed at what you and as someone who owns several of your pieces, so happy that you did leave your finance job! You are a true artist and jeweler. What a talent and your passion shines in each piece. A friend of mine just gave me a coffee mug with that quote since I live just one the edge and never venture out of my comfort zone and really must do so. Reading your blog has inspired me. Continued success to you and much happiness and joy will come your way with each piece of jewelry you create. Thank you for this blog and your jewelry!
    Nancy J

  • Mom: June 29, 2015

    Ah! You’ve got this Brooker. So many adventures still ahead. You will come to be even more grateful as the years go by that you made the leap of faith.

  • Kel: June 29, 2015

    I am SO SO SOOO proud of you. You are an inspiration for EVERYONE!!! Your dedication brings happy tears to my eyes. I hope that some day I grow up just like you and follow my dreams. SO proud!!!

  • Anja: June 29, 2015

    Love this Brooke! You are amazing in so many ways!

  • Kate: June 29, 2015

    I loved reading your story in your own words! I remember the day you quit so clearly. I wasn’t nervous, though, because I knew you were gonna kill it.

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