Laid Off Insurance Agent Earns Income Through Hobby

By Patty Edwards Shaver
My Career Voyage

The recent recession has created a tough job market with unemployment rates in the double digits leaving many dislocated workers at wits end on how to earn an income. Melinda Hawkins of Raleigh uses her jewelry-making hobby to bring in extra money to help pay her bills. Hawkins was laid off from her insurance job in September.
When a job did not materialize, Hawkins decided to become a self-employed insurance agent. Building a business during a downturn in the economy takes time and Hawkins could not afford to wait. With Christmas approaching, Hawkins switched to entrepreneur mode and started uploading photos of her jewelry creations on Facebook. And to her amazement, the jewelry started selling right away.
What is unique about Hawkins’ jewelry is that it’s one-of-a-kind; her designs are not duplicated. “People can’t find this in stores,” said Hawkins. “I customize it for the individual rather than make a one size fits all.” She started doing this out of frustration after trying to find jewelry she liked that was affordable, fit correctly, and would not fall apart. Hawkins decided to learn how to make jewelry and before she knew it, she had more jewelry than she knew what to do with.
“Little Inspirations has been a hobby for the last five years that has recently taken off, said Hawkins. “I enjoy creating one-of-a-kind jewelry that is unique to each person that receives it.” She enjoys working one-on-one with customers to create jewelry for every day, weddings, and other special occasions, ensuring that it fits each person correctly. To avoid disappointing breakage in design concepts, “I try it out before I sell it,” said Hawkins. “If there are flaws, I’ll fix them before I sell them.”
Hawkins has recently added a line of Cause Awareness Jewelry which is quickly becoming popular. She creates jewelry for causes such as Autism, Breast Cancer and Support the Troops. If there is a cause to support, Hawkins will create quality jewelry for supporters to wear. Hawkins said she was initially trying to make some extra money to help with bills and the jewelry sales have helped. “I expected sales to drop off after Christmas, but sales have increased,” said Hawkins. Within one month, Hawkins has received orders from as far away as England and Ireland. If this keeps up, Hawkins may not have time to sell insurance.
​​​​​​​See article and interview of Melinda with WRAL

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