Erin Pelicano Finds the Silver Lining
The engineer-turned-craftswoman shares what she’s learned along the way.
When Erin Pelicano lost her job in engineering during the economic downfall in 2010, she decided to get crafty. Since it was around the holidays, she took the skills she’d learned at a silversmith class in Frederick, Maryland (known for its artist community) and created charming jewelry keepsakes for her friends and family as gifts, saving money in the act. Soon after, Erin’s hobby was on its way to becoming a thriving business. She started making some pieces for a local historic district shop, launched a store on Etsy and started to see her work take off. “I didn’t grow up thinking I would be a jewelry designer so it’s just amazing how life can sometimes take you somewhere you never thought you would be,” she says. Part of what makes her pieces so unique is that they're intentionally designed to mark life’s special moments and milestones. Take for example, her Mother & Daughter sets which can be distributed to each party when going away to college or starting a first day at preschool. Or her Happy Birthday, Flower Girl or Survivor styles which celebrate happy events and commemorate inner strength. “Jewelry is such an emotional purchase. I hear from so many people that our pieces connect them to the relationships in their life and things that are important to them or simply inspire them.” Erin enlightened us on how to pick yourself up after getting laid off below and gave us her tips on surviving a tough time here.
When starting something new, transfer your skills and interests
There had always been a part of me that loved math and creating things, which is why I went to engineering school. Now it comes into play as a business owner, but also in some of my designs. What’s funny is I used to work specifically in the structural steel industry. Now, I still work in the metals industry—just precious metals.
Life isn’t always a straight path
You don’t have to pick one career and stick with it for 40 years and then retire. For some people, at a young age, it’s hard to know what it is you want to be. It’s okay and that can evolve. I tell my kids that all the time.
In my business, we hear a lot of happy stories. For example, when a couple adopts a baby and they’ll leave a piece from one of my sets with the birth mother and save the other piece for the child they’re adopting. I feel like we’re this teeny, tiny part of people’s lives that brings them comfort, joy or connection.
Keep your eyes on your goals
You need to set goals and truly believe you can achieve them. I created a vision board and I update it every January. I keep it in my closet because I can start my day looking at it while I get ready. I put beautiful things, jewelry I love and inspiring words on my board to serve as a reminder that I can make anything happen and make my dreams come true. A positive outlook and positive energy really make a difference.
It took a lot of perseverance, research, outreach and learning. I’m a part of many groups and I take advantage of any class that I can fit into my schedule—it might be an online class about Instagram or another topic that may improve my business.
Turn failure into success
Sometimes I create a piece, launch it and it isn’t a favorite. I don’t regret it; I try to turn anything into a learning experience and make it better. Failure is a part of life. It’s what you do with it—you either sit and focus on regret or you learn from it and move on.
Image courtesy of Ivanka Trump Illustration by Jonny Ruzzo