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How one becomes a silversmith

Nicole Santi

I wanted to start this year off my answering a question I get all the time. Well, I guess it’s two questions. The obligatory what do you do? Always followed by oh wow, how did you get into that? 

Let’s go back to 2015. I was working as a legal advocacy manager for a domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault (SA) advocacy group. My office was out of the District Attorney’s building and one of my jobs was to read through all of the arrest reports for DV & SA. I would then reach out to the person who was victimized and let them know of the services available to them and how the legal process looked moving forward. As well as managing the restraining order and family court programs. All advocates would take turns being on call and going to the hospitals and child advocacy center should any emergency calls come in. It was a very emotionally draining career. But, I loved when we would get through to someone and you get to be a part of giving them the tools needed to better their lives. Very rewarding when that would happen. Then I became pregnant with my second child and happen to catch a horrific case involving a murder. I would drive home every day crying. When I would get home I would hold onto to my children for dear life. (The case involved a minor). I knew I wouldn’t be able to go on much longer like this. After our son was born I decided I wasn’t going back to work.

He was born with colic and we spent many nights awake walking and bouncing him. We had this kitchen island we would do lap after lap. It was hard, and I felt awful for our son. He would cry all the time. After a few weeks of it we're all pretty much stressed out zombie. I knew I wouldn't be able to go back to work anytime soon. I didn't have anyone that could watch him and I didn't want to put a colic baby in a group setting and pass the stress onto anyone else. We couldn’t afford daycare so we began to brainstorm ideas on how I could work from home.

I've always loved to create. As kids my friends and I would draw pictures and try to sell them to our neighbors for a quarter haha. I don't have much computer experience and beside sales that was about the only other work from home jobs out there. I have always had a love for silver and turquoise jewelry but didn't have the capital to purchase all the supplies. I decided I would start with beaded jewelry and work my way to my goal. After a while, I ordered supplies for electroforming and ordered those supplies and stopped making things with beads. During this time, our son also grew out of his colic phase which was amazing. We were all sleeping and he turned into this always smiling guy. Our daughter started to like him more too. Eventually, I trained for my CDL with bus permits and became a school bus driver. Why?

I drove a school bus because I could earn income while having my kids with me. I was off when they were off, it left me plenty of time to create, and took pressure off my shoulders. I was still developing my small business and wanted to freedom to put the money I was making back into it for supplies to learn how to start the silver. I made it through almost two school years before I hit the point I was able to stay home and support my business and help contribute to my family. The bus schedule was no longer working and while it’s frightening not having guaranteed income, it’s also exhilarating and I wouldn’t change it for anything. 

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  • You are preaching to my heart!!!! I love your jewelry and I already love your blog!

    Johanna Oliver Jones

  • This is an awesome story. So glad you shared it! Very admirable that you didn’t stop until you were happy and proud! That is the way it is supposed to be! Sadly, few people do that! ❤️

    Debbie Bowker @oakleafdesigns

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