After months of frustrating job hunting, Marelle Turner-Gilchrist took matters into her own hands and became an accidental entrepreneur.
In the spring of 2022, the 35-year-old was looking for work as a luxury fashion strategist and had a number of promising interviews with a social commerce company. But a few days after receiving a job offer email in his inbox, he received a call from the CEO, who canceled the job offer – explaining that the company was largely funded by crypto investors with digital assets They lost value by the day.
“I’ve heard of offers being canceled,” Turner-Gilchrist told CNBC Make It in June, noting that background checks or professional references sometimes don’t pass muster. “But it never happened to me [before].”
CNBC Make It caught up with Turner-Gilchrist about what she learned through a tough job search and unexpectedly becoming her own boss.
Beware of getting tired of looking for work
Going public about his canceled offer on social media led to a lot of encouragement and even some job leads. Turner-Gilchrist hired someone to review her resume and LinkedIn page and set a goal of applying to 10 jobs a day. But after a bunch of interviews and every recruitment mishap imaginable – his ghost recruiter, leading them away cold, reaching the final stages only to be told the position he was interviewing for was de-prioritized – nothing quite materialized.
“I’ve never had an experience like this, so it’s been a year of navigating challenges and finding creative ways to keep a positive spirit,” says Turner-Gilchrist.
After a grueling few months, Turner-Gilchrist decided to stop applying to jobs altogether.
The break came just in time. In August, with a clear head, he reconnected with an old friend who owned a PR firm in Los Angeles. The friend had a fashion client who needed some help with their marketing and strategy. Turner-Gilchrist had exactly the right experience they were looking for.
Embrace the unfamiliar
It wasn’t the full-time job Turner-Gilchrist was looking for, but she thought to herself, “Why not use this opportunity to continue to bring in income, keep my skills fresh and try something new?”
She had never done consulting work before, but learned she really enjoyed it, especially the aspect of being her own person and having control over her time. The one-month contract was enough to give him the confidence to bet on himself and launch his own consulting firm.
As of September 1, Turner-Gilchrist launched Atelier Lenora, where she leverages her global experience in the luxury, lifestyle and fashion space to assist clients with merchandising and product strategy support, trend forecasting, creative direction and more.
Launching her own company was never on her career vision board. “I never wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Turner-Gilchrist says. “There is a lot of fear and uncertainty in entrepreneurship, but I have been in an uncertain phase of life for the past few months.”
By building her own network of clients, Turner-Gilchrist has more control over her career than ever. “I always bet on other companies to determine the trajectory of my career,” he said. Now it’s complete control.
Think about what is really important to you
A year ago, Turner-Gilchrist says the idea of luxury was woven into many of her lines of work, including designer sporting goods and international travel. He has cut these things from his budget now that his consulting income is more in flux. But as his own boss, Turner-Gilchrist says, “freedom is the new luxury.”
The luxury of choice and autonomy means that you can work a 4-day work week, or take a health and wellness break during the afternoon. This also means finding a way to support himself whether he has a full-time job (which is totally open to, by the way) or not, and he has the freedom to grow his business by taking on more clients and staff (a definite possibility). ).
“The true meaning of luxury is choice, freedom, time,” he said. “Last year my definition of living a life of luxury was different than it is today. Now it has agency.”