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“My Magnificent Obsession” — Creative Pursuits Lead to Reinvented Careers

Renee Sugar

Meandering through a store one day, I spotted a paper marbling kit containing paint, pieces of paper, a comb, and an instruction book. Cost was $7.95. Should I buy it? It might be a lot of work! I made the purchase, not realizing it would take me on a journey unlike anything I had experienced.

My kitchen became the studio/laboratory and over three years I created hundreds of specimens/ experiments. What would I do with this raw material? The first attempt at marketing was to sell greeting cards with the designs printed on decal-edged cardstock. The launch of Simply Marbleous began at artisan craft shows.

As it turned out, I had lost my job after eleven years due to the closure of the business. Then opportunity knocked. I could apply to a college program (2-year commitment) or apply for an entrepreneurial business development program. Only one choice: I applied for the entrepreneurial program. I had spent over a decade in Home Fashion sales, which offered a valuable foundation.

The focus of the program was to write a business plan. I now called myself an artisan/surface designer and was on the way to build my own original collection. Just before completing the program, an unexpected email invitation arrived for potential exhibitors in the upcoming interior design show. It took place over four days with both design trade and public in attendance.

Some naysayers thought I was jumping too soon, but I took the leap! It was expensive to participate in a trade show, so I found a partner to share the booth and costs. In retrospect, who knew what would unfold from the chance discovery of this marbling kit? Like fragments of a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces fit into a larger story.

At the show, I met a journalist from a major newspaper who was interviewing artisans for an article. I was included and after the show was invited to exhibit my collection at an upscale design complex in Toronto. So many “pinch me” moments in this story. It was an honor for an emerging artisan to participate in this “Grand Design.”

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