Jill of all Trades?

People often ask me why I choose to do such a broad variety of things in my professional life, and I find that I have no clear answer other than, I have a large variety of interests, and I choose to explore all of those interests instead of choosing one over the others. This may seem crazy, or confusing, but for me, it’s what keeps me motivated.

Before I explain, let me first break down what exactly it is that I do in my business. Cara B. Design Studio is a subsidiary of Cara B. Design & Wellness. Cara B. Design Studio focuses on art, while Cara B. Design & Wellness focuses on wellness services and products. I started Cara B. Design & Wellness in 2008 as Cara B. Health & Beauty. Initially, my business was focused on bridal makeup, and occasionally out-call massage therapy. Over time, my business evolved, as did my business name and in 2012, I re-branded, renaming the business Cara B. Design & Wellness.

There are 5 main areas of focus between Cara B. Design Studio and Cara B. Design & Wellness:

  1. Massage Therapy

  2. Esthetics (Skin Care & Makeup)

  3. Teaching (Part time Trade School Faculty & Continuing Education Provider)

  4. Textile Artist (Designing and Creating Handbags & Wallets)

  5. All Natural Handmade Bath & Body products

The question I’m asked most frequently, is how I got into each area that I focus on. Each one has its own unique story, and most of them revolve around injuries that temporarily sidelined me from something else. For example, I started teaching massage therapy because I herniated a disc in my lumbar (lower) spine when I was 30, and was unable to work for an extended period of time. I had great difficulty walking and maneuvering around, so my mom suggested to me that I look into teaching since I couldn’t practice for a while. I had never considered teaching, because ultimately I felt that I wouldn’t have the patience to teach. At first, I was resistant to the idea, and then it occurred to me that the only reason I had never considered teaching, was simply because I was so focused on not wanting to teach kids, I never realized that there was an opportunity to teach adults. At that point, I had already been in the massage therapy industry for 8 years and was very comfortable with my knowledge and experience. Not long after that realization, I got in touch with a fellow massage therapist who was a massage instructor, and he helped get me on the path to teaching.

After I had been teaching for awhile, I started missing the hands on work, and I made the decision to go back to a massage therapy center where I had worked on and off for a number of years. I got back into the swing of things, and over time, realized that while I really enjoyed being back in practice, I also missed teaching. Around that same time, I was promoted to manager at my job and my boss was interested in getting me certified to teach continuing education courses to the staff. So, I got myself certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) as a Nationally Approved Continuing Education Provider. I started by teaching the staff at my job, and then eventually started creating new courses and offering them to other massage therapists. It’s now been almost 5 years and I still love it every opportunity I get to teach. I also teach massage part time at a trade school in Delaware on an as needed basis, so I still get to maintain my private practice.

Around the same time as my herniated disc (just prior to teaching), I found myself bored frequently as I wasn’t able to get around very easily. I’ve had an interest in 3 dimensional art my entire life and since I was a little girl, my mom always told me that she thought I’d enjoy sewing as much as she does. My mom is also an artist and she is also a master of the sewing machine! My closest friends bought me a gift certificate to Joann Fabrics for my 30th birthday and with the very generous gift certificate, I bought my first sewing machine (with my mom’s input of course!). For more details on my now collection of 4 sewing machines, click here! Long story short, I started sewing as a way to pass the time, and I fell in love. I started collecting antique and vintage fabrics and designing and creating all different types of handbags and wallets. It started as a hobby and then friends and family started inquiring about purchasing my creations and in 2010 I opened an Etsy shop.

Speaking of Etsy shops, in 2017, I opened a second Etsy shop after suffering another traumatic injury. This time, I dislocated my right shoulder and tore my rotator cuff. The severity of this injury required surgery, which left me in a sling, 24/7, for 6 weeks. I then developed a severe case of frozen shoulder and was unable to use my right arm for the better part of a year. Due to my boredom and inability to go anywhere since I couldn’t drive for a while and relying on only the use of my left arm (my non-dominant arm), I started getting creative in my kitchen and making bath salts and melt and pour soap with the use of essential oils and other materials I already had around my kitchen. This started out as simply a way for me to make therapeutic bath salts for soaking my injured shoulder, and developed into a business where I make everything from muscle balms, to hand lotions, to my very own essential oil creations.

But, what brought me to my original careers of Massage Therapy and Esthetics? Well, those are a bit easier to explain, and neither one has anything to do with any type of injury, as I only started getting injured after my 30th birthday! Ahhh, aging. So much fun. When I was 21 I was at a crossroads in my life. I was working for a lawyer as a legal secretary and I was not enjoying my job. Prior to this role, I had worked as a medical assistant, dental assistant, bartender, restaurant server, optician-in-training, and finally, in what may have been my favorite job I’ve ever had; hostess at Chili’s. I must say, I was quite possibly the best hostess of any restaurant in the history of the world. Okay, okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but I was pretty great. I loved my job, I loved welcoming people to the restaurant, and I absolutely loved getting my hands on the microphone to announce when a table was ready on busier nights. Simple times. Anyway, back to the lawyer! The lawyer I worked for was great and I spent a lot of time thinking about my future and what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t go away to college after high school, and clearly I had just picked up various jobs and never really fell in love with anything. I started pondering various professions, but to no avail. I then sought assistance from a self-help book for people in my shoes. By the time I finished this interactive book that helped me assess my personality, interests, and much more, I discovered a profession called massage therapy. I had never heard of a massage therapist before and I had no idea that this was a job. I looked into some schools, found the right one, registered, and then 9/11 happened. I started school 2 weeks after 9/11 and it was the perfect choice.

About 6 months after graduating massage school, I was working at a day spa. I got to know some of the estheticians who worked at the day spa and I discovered that there was an entirely new profession that I was interested in, that would compliment my growing career as a massage therapist, so again, I looked into some schools, found the right one and registered. Once I graduated from esthetics school, I began my career as a wellness practitioner.

So there you have it! Jill of all Trades? Maybe. Who knows what other career I may find myself enamored of in the future!