Friday, May 28, 2010

You vs Your Job

In the last fortnight, my job has become pretty darn crazy. There's a buttload of construction going on in our street, which is impeding the already tiny amount of foot traffic we get each day. Fortunately, when the construction finishes, there'll be more shops and cafes opposite us, which means we'll get more customers.

Unfortunately it means our rent is going up. So not only have both my assistant manager and my manager provided resignation notice, but head office is letting us know by the end of July whether or not our store is still going to be open. Fun times!

In light of all the insanity, I bit the bullet and searched out every retail outlet looking for staff. If I saw a "casuals needed" sign, I went in, even if it was a store I'd never consider entering otherwise. So I did venture into a few stores I knew I wouldn't feel comfortable working in, let alone shopping in. You see, I don't tend to have a lot of luck with jobs. This is probably the third time in as many years I've been looking for supplement/replacement employment. Every time I hand out at least ten CVs. Every time I hear nothing back. So it was to my utter surprise I got a phone call from a local jewellry store asking me if I was free on Tuesday for an interview. Which, y'know. Yay, employment and such. But... I don't own any jewellry that could have come from somewhere like that. Everything I own is indie, handmade or cheap costume stuff. The only expensive/contains 'real' gold/stones type thing I own is a beautiful teardrop necklace my boyfriend bought me for Valentine's day three years back, with my birthstone in it. The chain broke a few months ago (which we both knew would happen since it contains high amounts of gold and is therefore quite fragile) and I still haven't gotten around to getting it fixed.

What I'm getting at here is that I don't want to be one of those people who absolutely despises their job. Or feels silly being there. I am firmly and utterly an indie, vintage and bargain shopper. Terms like "investment purchase" and "paying for quality" just aren't a part of my vocabulary. Jewellry, for me, is about being unique, and fun, and colorful, and supporting your own and others creative ventures. I make a lot of my own jewellry. The stuff I don't make comes from antique stores, online indie places, or from friends and family. My current favourite pieces include a pair of white lego block earrings, iridescent purple guitar pick earrings, a vintage metallic button choker I made myself, and a gold mesh buckle bracelet I bought from Etsy. How am I going to feel trying to convince women/boyfriends/husbands/children that they need to blow a few hundred bucks on something that's OMG real silver with some OOH sparkly rocks.

Now don't get me wrong, I think that gold and silver and gemstones are important in the context of say, wedding rings and engagement rings. But in an everyday context I'd much rather have something affordable, with a ton more personality and colour than something mass-produced. My broken necklace does have colour, and its subtle, and pretty, and meaningful because it has my birthstone in it, which is also a colour I really like (purple).

I guess what I'm trying to get at is, how do you overcome that sense of... wrongness, when your job clashes so hard with your ideals and your values? I'm still going to this interview. Job > no job, as one of my  friends very succinctly put it. I like jewellry. I just don't like paying $299 for a cute ring, and I don't know how I'd feel about trying to sell it to someone.

NOTE: Sassy Minerals review incoming, just checked the mail and did a little happy dance. I also bought some empty jars on ebay to de-bag my various other samples. I fail at using bags. Also bought a bunch more Mode polishes, if anyone's interested in a picspam of those, please say so, else I won't bother.


  1. I don't like "fancy" jewelry either, I used to be OBSESSED with browsing Etsy for kitschy type stuff. My boyfriend knows that should he ever propose, he damn well better not waste all that money on a stupid fancy ring :P

    I understand how you feel about this. I hate when customers ask me if a sandwich or shake that I hate is any good, and of course I have to say yes. I don't know why they bother to ask, it's not like I can actually tell them if I dislike something.

  2. Hmm I'm not sure what to say, because money is money, but I used to work at Kmart and the people there were scumbags and the way they did things was just so against my values, and I didnt end up staying there =/

  3. I guess maybe it depends on if you can extend your feelings about when expensive jewellery is appropriate? I mean, if you're only comfortable selling engagement rings, that's pretty limited, but extend it to other significant birthdays / milestones / etc and that's a lot more you can be happy with ...

    For example, I don't have very much valuable jewellery, but for my 21st birthday my parents said they wanted to spend a certain sum of money and get me a small diamond necklace or pearls or something (I totally didn't expect this!) so we went shopping and I now have an earrings and necklace set which I love (although wear very rarely, but for the rest of my life I'll have them for fancy occasions).

    (Apart from that my really valuable jewellery probably consists of: my engagement ring, my wedding ring (although that's plain white gold and wasn't expensive in the scheme of things) and a gold crucifix which was a gift when I was a baby. Most of the rest of my stuff are earrings / necklaces which were £10 at most and very often nearer the £2-£5 mark.)

    Also, you'll presumably be selling to people with different lifestyles than you ... someone else may want a string of black pearls to wear every day as workwear (a staff member at my university does this - every time I see her she's wearing them, and she looks good and it does make her look professional), or something else which one might instinctively think of as totally frivolous.

    Of course it depends on the shop, but if you really are selling high-quality pieces that actually will last a lifetime, I don't think you need to feel a fraud telling people e.g. that platinum doesn't tarnish. It might not be your thing, but presumably for people coming into the store it /is/ their thing.

    (Sorry for enormous comment!)

    Hope the interview goes well, anyway - whether you get it or not it's good interview practice :)

  4. Heather: kitschy stuff is awesome. I am kind of glad I don't work in hospitality any more. Not that retail is a picnic!

    Silhouette: I have a friend that works at Target. I hear ya. And yes, I could definitely use more interview experience!

    Bella: Enormously awesome comment! I spent a few hours at work on Saturday talking to my assistant manager, who had worked in a jewelry shop for a few years back home (Ireland). Not only do I feel very prepared and genuinely interested in the job, but apparently I know a lot more about jewelry than I thought I did!

    We'll see how it goes. I'll be pretty stoked if I go get it... even though their uniform consists of PINK polo shirts. Ugh.


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