Real Work, Real Life

Master Goldsmith

May 29, 2024 Emily Sampson Episode 55
Master Goldsmith
Real Work, Real Life
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Real Work, Real Life
Master Goldsmith
May 29, 2024 Episode 55
Emily Sampson

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On this week's episode of Real Work, Real Life, I’m talking with Jordan Barnett-Parker, a master goldsmith. Jordan has had a really interesting career, and he’s one of quite a few people I’ve talked to at this point that found their career passion through a class in high school, so maybe a vote in favor of just trying as much as you can as early as you can, because you never know what might catch your interest in a way nothing else has before. We also talk about how pursing your passion for a career while probably more rewarding, can also sometimes be the more challenging choice. The people that I’ve talked to that seem really happy with that path are so committed that they really can’t imagine anything else, if you you’re thinking of turning a personal passion into a career, that’s probably a decent litmus test to see if you should dive in or not. Finally, one thing I have noticed about small business owners is that they often have a handful of paths within on general field. We’ll get into what that looks like for Jordan, but if there is a particular field  you’re interested in, talking with someone you know in that field might lead you to niches within that you didn’t even know existed, but when pieced together, can create a thriving business. 

You can find out more about Jordan's work here: 
Website: https://jordanadamdesigns.com/
Instagram: @jordanadamdesigns

If you like the show, please rate and review on iTunes and Spotify  (linked below) and please share with a friend! You can also follow the podcast on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Tiktok. And if you’d like to be interviewed here, or there is a particular job you’d like to learn about, please reach out at realworkreallife@gmail.com.

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/real-work-real-life/id1673653251

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1Cp0w2BjOtS8NWfj0NhmIg?si=ece5b6ad45274b73

Transcripts are now available here: www.realworkreallife.com

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

On this week's episode of Real Work, Real Life, I’m talking with Jordan Barnett-Parker, a master goldsmith. Jordan has had a really interesting career, and he’s one of quite a few people I’ve talked to at this point that found their career passion through a class in high school, so maybe a vote in favor of just trying as much as you can as early as you can, because you never know what might catch your interest in a way nothing else has before. We also talk about how pursing your passion for a career while probably more rewarding, can also sometimes be the more challenging choice. The people that I’ve talked to that seem really happy with that path are so committed that they really can’t imagine anything else, if you you’re thinking of turning a personal passion into a career, that’s probably a decent litmus test to see if you should dive in or not. Finally, one thing I have noticed about small business owners is that they often have a handful of paths within on general field. We’ll get into what that looks like for Jordan, but if there is a particular field  you’re interested in, talking with someone you know in that field might lead you to niches within that you didn’t even know existed, but when pieced together, can create a thriving business. 

You can find out more about Jordan's work here: 
Website: https://jordanadamdesigns.com/
Instagram: @jordanadamdesigns

If you like the show, please rate and review on iTunes and Spotify  (linked below) and please share with a friend! You can also follow the podcast on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Tiktok. And if you’d like to be interviewed here, or there is a particular job you’d like to learn about, please reach out at realworkreallife@gmail.com.

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/real-work-real-life/id1673653251

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1Cp0w2BjOtS8NWfj0NhmIg?si=ece5b6ad45274b73

Transcripts are now available here: www.realworkreallife.com

Jordan Jeweler 

[00:00:00] Welcome to real work real life, where I talked to real people about what they do for work and what that means for their lives. Today, I'm talking with Jordan, a master Goldsmith. Jordan has had a really interesting career. And he's one of quite a few people I've talked to at this point that found their career passion through a class in high school. So maybe a vote in favor of just trying out as many different things as you can early on, because you never know, it might catch your interest in a way nothing else has before. We also talk about how pursuing your passion for a career while probably more rewarding can also sometimes be the more challenging choice. The people that I've talked to that seemed really happy with that path are so committed that they really can't imagine anything else. 

So if you're thinking about turning more of a personal passion into a career, that's probably a decent litmus test to see if you should really dive in or not. Finally, one thing I've noticed about small business owners is that they often have a handful of paths or income streams within one general field. [00:01:00] We'll get into what that looks like for Jordan, but if there is a particular field you're interested in go find someone that is in that field and, and talk with them because it might lead you. To streams within that field that you didn't even know existed, but when piece together can create a thriving business, so let's get into it. 

Emily: Thank you so much for being here, Jordan.

Jordan: Thanks for having me.

Emily: So what do you do for work?

Jordan: That's a mouthful. So technically I'm a master goldsmith and silversmith uh, but primarily I do bespoke artwork or metalwork in ferrous and non ferrous precious metals.

Emily: Oh, that's amazing. So what interested you about it? How did you get into this work?

Jordan: Well I went to school in Camden Camden Rockport was not the greatest student. I think a lot of boys take a lot longer to mature than girls perhaps. And my father, I had an option of getting out of school early. They would, they would have like late arrival and early release, and that was not really acceptable in my family.

So, [00:02:00] My father said, why don't you try there's a jewelry course available because he had run diamonds were from Brooklyn originally. And he had a job as a teenager running diamonds in the diamond district in Manhattan. So there was a loose connection there. And you said, you might find it interesting, which was quite a prescient thing for him because I got into class.

The teacher's name was Simone Vander Van. He ran the art program in Camden for decades. And the second I soldered two pieces of metal together, which is a process of combining metals I, something clicked in my brain. And at 16 I just knew for some reason, this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

I didn't know how but I knew it. And so that was the beginning of a long journey that now has been, you know, 25 years, I think in the making. So.

Emily: Wow, you know, I don't often, I've talked to a lot of people now and I don't talk to too many people who realize what they want to do at that age and really follow it through. So that's amazing.

Jordan: It was a blessing. I mean, [00:03:00] I, yes, I was quite unfocused and to have something to focus on, especially in those earlier years, made it much easier for me to just work in one direction while I saw other people really trying to, you know, in college, and you're trying to find what interests you. And I never had to worry about that.

I, I did know exactly what I wanted to do.

Emily: So can you talk a little bit about, so starting in high school, but then what did you do kind of for training from there to get where you are now? 

Jordan: my personality kind of is drawn towards traditional methods and traditional things. I don't know why it just is that way. So right out of high school, the first thing I did was kind of canvas the area within 20 miles and talk to everyone who worked in the jewelry industry. So back then it was much more competitive and I was not received very well, I will admit.

But that's fine. However, there were a couple of sympathetic ears. One of them was George Holmes, who owned a shop called By George in Rockland. And the other one his [00:04:00] name was Michael Goode and his wife Karen Goode in Rockport, who actually happened to be quite world famous. Jewelry designers.

And he was very, very well established in the industry. So my first job was in a small retail store by George, just selling jewelry and getting acquainted with it. And then about six months later, Michael and Kieran took me on in a traditional apprenticeship. And that was really the beginning of the intense training that led me ultimately to Germany and we can get into that, but you know, Yeah, so at 18 years old, I started that apprenticeship with Michael Goode.

And in fact, now 25 years later, we still work together and collaborate on pieces, which is, is really nice. 

Emily: Yeah, you know, I'd love to kind of hear, hear the full story. Like, what does, I assume an apprenticeship is paid, or are you paying for it, or is there some kind of combination there?

Jordan: So it depends on where you are. In America, I think apprenticeships fall under the interning kind of. Modus [00:05:00] operandi where classically they haven't been paid. In Europe, it is something that is paid. And so Michael is actually from Belgium originally and runs his shop in a very traditional European way.

And so I was fortunate that it was a paid apprenticeship. So I was extremely lucky. Most people are not that lucky. They do have to pay for classes. They have to, you know, work for free. So. At the very beginning, there was some value attached to what I was doing, which is, is really nice because you don't just feel like you're struggling but you can pay bills.

And Michael had a German trained master goldsmith there. Her name was Micah, and she played a huge role in influencing me and my decisions for the future because I saw that the skill set that she had was like nothing. I had ever seen before. She could do anything in an extremely high level. And she, in fact, was German.

They had brought her over. So I did enroll at the main College of Art for two years. I think it's now called the [00:06:00] main college of design. I will admit I did not fit in there. It was very difficult for me. It was very expensive, but it did give me a artistic foundation that was helpful later on. I didn't know how to draw.

I didn't know how to do any of that. And in fact, I will be perfectly candid because I think that's important. I had a friend do drawings for me for my portfolio that got juried that actually got me into the school. So I am, I'm just being honest. Sometimes you have to just get yourself in and prove yourself.

And I know that some people might look down on that, but. I always found you just have to jump into the water and you sink or swim. And that was the environment that I thrived best in. So after two years and I think 45, 000 I transferred to the University of Maine because at that point I knew I wanted to move to Germany and, and to be trained at this school in Pforzheim, which was a 250 year old goldsmithing school that Really is accepted as the best, you know, if not [00:07:00] the best, one of the top two or three goldsmithing and watchmaking schools in the world, they had a very prolific tradition.

It was just known the city's known as the gold city automakers from all over the world come there to do design work from Japan. There's a fashion school there. So it was a very. It was a happening place as far as jewelry and production for the interest industry. So that's why I started to study German at the University of Maine.

I was not good at it. I went for about a year and entered into a study abroad program in Austria, thinking that if I studied in an Austrian university. You know, for people that was, were Austrian that I would learn the German. However, the funny thing was in Austria, they speak a very heavy dialect of German.

So it was not something that carried over. So I learned something that was, it was fun and it was great. I lived in Salzburg, which was a beautiful place. In fact, we were, my wife and I were just there pretty much for the month of December. But [00:08:00] I kind of sharpened my teeth. In the German language there and then applied to the school in Pforzheim, Germany, and that process was very intense.

So 1st, they had to even accept you to come to try out. And then I was 1 of 700 people who were buying for, I think, 35 spots to get into the school. So it was highly competitive. My German was terrible, but luckily, my metal smithing skills were good and I did end up getting accepted. Following that year when I finished the term, because I did two semesters in Austria and actually started playing professional American football, if you can believe it for some some reason.

So that was another experience. I got 

to have 

traveling all over Europe. It was pretty amazing. I got paid to play. And so I moved to Fort Syme and started school there, and I actually was going to go through their apprenticeship program, which would have lasted another seven years. Yeah, 

so I was in it for [00:09:00] the long haul, but we noticed very quickly that I did not belong in the beginners class.

So. Within three weeks, they had moved me from the first year class into what's called the masterclass, where you are literally preparing for two years to take testing and be evaluated to become certified as a master goldsmith or silversmith, which in Germany makes you a teacher. It allows you to become a business owner.

So the level of education is so far beyond anything we have in America. So you're getting an educational degree and there's. It's just very in depth. So I moved there and studied with, I think, 13 or 14 masters in every craft you could possibly imagine from stone cutting to smithing metal into vessels soldering, complex stone setting, enabling engraving.

I mean, we, we engraved coin dies to stamp at a mint. It was pretty comprehensive and incredible. And the testing [00:10:00] process was very rigorous. They watched us. It took, we had to build a masterpiece. We had, I believe, 3 weeks and everything was under observation. Everything was kept under lock and key. The scrutiny that they Put on your work was, it was just, it felt like it was insurmountable at times, but it led you to really becoming quite skilled and proficient at the end.

So I would say that was the culmination of my training. And at that point, so I earned my title as a master goldsmith and silversmith in the summer of 2008 at the age of, I believe. 25 or 26. So that was fairly young. And I, to my knowledge, I'm the only American who has ever. Gone there and actually completed that program.

Uh, I could be, I could be wrong, but at least in the last 50 years, there hasn't been anyone. So it was, it was very special. And that was the beginning of my professional career. When I moved back I was actually forced to move back [00:11:00] because of visa problems and right after I moved back, Germany had passed legislation that if you graduated from higher education in Germany, that you had a one year visa.

I was actually working for, I don't know if you've ever heard of the French watchmaker Chopard, but I was working for them. There is, it's like a Patek Philippe or Rolex, or there it's a very well known prestigious place. So it was sad for me to have to leave that, but I also learned quite a bit working there.

And then I came back to America as the financial crisis hit.

Emily: So fun. What a fun time to be

Jordan: Yeah, so I hope that that was cogent. I know that was a lot all at once and there's, there's even more in between, but that was kind of the rough synopsis of the training that I went through. So it was a long time and it was very traditional and rigorous.

And just something that you can't really find here in the States, unfortunately.

Emily: Wow, that's so interesting. So when you were in Germany, were you paying for the program at that point or was that part also paid as an apprenticeship?

Jordan: School in [00:12:00] Germany and Europe for the most part is free. Now, since it was a higher education, there was a little bit I had to pay, but for the two years I paid 900 euros. So essentially it was free. And, and we were given like for one euro a year, we had a million dollars insurance policy so that if anything happened to our hands, we were taken care of.

It was, I 

Emily: of course. 

Do you have that now? Do you have insurance on your hands now or if your

Jordan: I have, I mean, I have some insurance, but nothing that's that comprehensive. It's in America. And I'm sure as you found to that the strength of insurance policies in America has been come quite watered down. So I'm as protected as I can be, but I don't play football anymore.

So that takes away a huge risk. But yeah, I've, you know, if my eyes or my hands go that, that definitely becomes an issue for sure.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So can you talk a little bit about. Once you came back to the States, what did you do from there? And sort of what is your [00:13:00] employment look like now? Are you a sole proprietor? Are you part of a larger business? How does that work?

Jordan: So for the last three years, I have been completely on my own. I have an LLC. I am a sole proprietor and I will be switching over to an escort probably in the next fiscal year. But previously I only knew being employed. So typical W2 work and I, and I won't lie, especially since I came back during a time of.

Arguably one of the most volatile financial crises or environments that we've had, you know, outside of COVID, a lot of what I had to do was supplement my jewelry work by working in restaurants because I had, my family had a bakery that we started hole in the wall bagels in Rockland. And so all of my life, starting at the age of 12, I had professionally worked in kitchens, baking and cooking, and was actually able to make more money.

Per hour than jewelry, so like my typical restaurant job would be 15 to 18 an hour where in the industry people were paying [00:14:00] 12 to 13 an hour for skilled jewelry labor. Yeah, so I came back and bounced around the country. I actually worked for Michael good for a year, but the. Financial situation was so bad that I actually recused myself from that situation because he had actually he was funding our payroll, even though we had no work to do.

So that again, very lucky because I had an incredible boss. There was, you know, I never had a, an employer like that again, but my own conscious conscience. I just. I couldn't sit there and collect a paycheck knowing what was going on. So from there, I moved out to Colorado to work for another goldsmith. And it was not a great experience.

I think I've had a wide gamut of experiences, which leaves me and we can talk about later to what else I do besides jewelry work within the industry. But I understand the plight of the worker. I understand the struggles. I know what it's like to move cross country. With a promise of a pay and to [00:15:00] get there and to not get it and to really be in hard straight.

So I worked out there for probably a month or two and that situation is, was not healthy and I couldn't pay my bills. And so I immediately found another job in New Hampshire. And moved so within 2 months, I had driven cross country back and forth a couple of times and settled in to a really great jewelry store with an owner.

That was just fantastically skilled. And that was in the town that Dartmouth college is located in. It was called I believe forget not Lebanon.

Emily: It's Hanover, isn't it?

Jordan: Hanover. Yeah, that's right. It's been, it's been 10 or 11 years since then. And so that opened up a lot of opportunities, including I, Dartmouth kind of recruited me to be a guest teacher and lecturer and resident artist for a year.

Which was quite humbling because I was giving speeches and workshops and classes at a school that I would never [00:16:00] have been able to attend. But that was very fun. So. From there, I moved back to Maine and kind of piddled around doing the same restaurant work with jewelry work on the side and had worked with a couple of stores in Maine.

And the experiences were very similar to my other experiences where it was kind of, you know, Being taken advantage of and you have to understand, too, is that when you do the kind of work that I do, you are literally making your employer millions of dollars over the course of a couple of years. So it was very unsettling that to work for employers that really reaped the benefit of the years that I put into it.

And at this point I had owed recruit about 180, 000 worth of student loan debt.

Emily: because of the Maine College of Art

Jordan: because of that, and so I hope this is okay to say, but I don't care. So back then, you know, they were quite liberal with giving out loans and to live in [00:17:00] another country, you have to show a financial stability. So even though I wasn't attending a school in America, I kept, you know, My enrollment, the University of Maine active, which they were nice to let me do and borrow it as if I was going there to pay for all of my expenses overseas.

And at the time the Euro was extremely high. So it was about one 45 to the dollar. So if I would borrow 50, 000, it would leave me with around 30, 000 Euros. And so I had to live the whole year and Making a masterpiece out of 18 karat gold ended up costing me a roughly 30, 000. So I did melt that down and recouped a lot of the cost.

But it I don't want to lie and say that all this was, you know, I want to be transparent. It was very expensive, very expensive. And for some reason, these loan companies. Found a way on many of us to increase our balances exponentially, even while I paid 1, [00:18:00] 500 a month, the whole time that it was gone. So that's why I also had to work, you know, two full time job. So I work in the restaurant, oftentimes in a bakery. So I would get up at three in the morning, work a full day until maybe two. And then I would do jewelry work for the rest of the day. And so I really, I got by on that for a while. And I finally was able to rent a house with enough space for me to build out a studio, which in and of itself is quite expensive to do.

But that was the beginning of me doing quote unquote side joy work. And that's when I started my LLC, which was probably 10 or 11 years ago, but it was never fully what I did. And it wasn't until funny enough. I met my wife that she kind of looked at me and was like, Hey, what are you doing? Like, it's, I mean, you mean you're a great cook, you're a great baker, but if you want to do this, it's time for you to, you know, shit or get off the pot.

Pardon my language, but it is you can't have your feet and two worlds at the same time and [00:19:00] apply what you, you know, the effort into that. So when I took that plunge and actually did it, everything started to change. so I had you know, I've been working in the industry for 20 years. I have a lot of experience, a lot of experience on how to run people's businesses profitably, how to streamline work.

I had gone into at that point, two or three different stores and completely changed the way that they operated. And really I'm boosting their income three to 400, 000 a year. So this kind of became a specialty of mine was not only. Being able to make, repair, design jewelry. But I really understood the fundamentals of the business well.

And that's kind of the other part now of the business that we can get into. So after I was fired from a job, from my last full time jewelry job, and again, I'll be candid because I don't want to gloss over things for people who are listening and trying to make something happen, you know, I was [00:20:00] fired for asking for safety equipment. And for asking for the salary that I had been promised when I was hired. Again, this is a reoccurring theme and I can't say enough to people. If you're serious about a job, you ask for a contract in writing. And if that employer is not willing to do it, you need to move on. Because that it's the most basic form of protection.

And if they're not willing to put that in writing, it should give you a clue that something's going on. So that's something important. And so after I was fired, I, that was when I said, okay, I'm just doing this on my own. I. Went out and leased a 20, 000 what's called laser welder. It's a different kind of a piece of equipment for the studio.

I bought a lot more equipment and I started, I went through a database. There's a nationwide database. That's really meant for people who aren't employed, but it's a business database where you can look through every industry and it will tell you. Those stores, their [00:21:00] contacts. So I did that for Maine, and I sent out about 100 emails and contacts to every jewelry and metal related business in the state, and I figured if 1 percent of these people respond, then I'll be okay.

It tended, it was more than that. So very quickly wholesale work, selling my services to people became my bread and butter. And it was also, you know, Very empowering. So I still do and still did custom work with people one on one that come to my studio, which is, I love it because there's no pressure.

People are happy. They're coming to me for something. I, and I'm a problem solver and the wholesale work for the first time in my life, I was getting paid what I thought and needed to get paid. So that was a huge, huge change for me. So I started making. I don't know, six times what I was making at any employment.

And so, which was ironic because the same type of stores that wouldn't pay for the hourly rate are now [00:22:00] paying the equivalent of 200 an hour for work. So it changed things very quickly. And the business is also evolving to adapt to that. So for example, last year, I went from 13 stores that I was doing work for to two, because There are trials and tribulations and problems that come along with doing wholesale work, and I was finding that I was spending a lot of time chasing down invoices. so, you know, that's the other thing for people. It's good to have work, but how is that work paying and are they paying on time? And so I never turned anyone away, but I kind of altered things. So that it allowed people to back out, for example, you know, raising prices or extending certain timelines for things so that people who were not serious, we did themselves out.

And at this point, I really work with people who understand the business. They value what I'm doing. And the interaction is just absolutely a hundred percent positive because. If you're going to [00:23:00] work on your own, and some people think that because you work from home, quote, unquote, that it's easy and oh, you can stay in your pajamas all day.

And the truth is, is that you go from working eight hours a day to 24. 

Um, 

There isn't a moment where I'm not available to people. I can't say no. It's just. The way it is. And so the other half of my business to piggyback on that is that I work with recruiters placing people around the country. I help those employees negotiate their contracts.

And what I also do is I consult with people opening and owning jewelry stores. And so I will go in and I will teach them how to operate safely, ethically, and profitably. You know, so it's that part of my business is growing quite a bit and I enjoy it and it allows me to pick and choose the most pleasurable experiences that I have, if that makes sense.

Emily: How did you get into that side of the work into being a [00:24:00] consultant on those two streams?

Jordan: Well I will say that the most powerful advertisement is word of mouth, and I am very fortunate you know, if you go on my Instagram, you'll see I only have like 1400 followers, but those 1400 followers are the people who are most successful in our industry. And so. By having those relationships, I, other people will advertise for me.

And I've, it just, the work comes to me. So teaching has been something that I've done since I was 17. Michael Goodhead mentioned earlier, one of the tenants of his education with me was teaching. So at a very young age, he brought me. To Haystack, which is in Deer Isle Metal, Metalworks Penland.

There are schools that are really well known around the country. And I sharpened my teeth teaching with him and through teaching, you make a lot of connections. And so that's something that I continued. And in fact I have some students coming here in a couple of weeks and by students, [00:25:00] mostly, you know, Professionals who are really looking to level up their game.

So these people own stores, they come, they learn, they see the results. And then it's a natural progression for me to come help them to streamline their businesses, because I will say. That in this business where everything is so expensive, gold is at an all time high. If you're not extremely careful about the way you do things, the potential to lose thousands and tens of thousands of dollars in a very short amount of time is It's very easy.

It's very easy to do. Some people don't even realize they're doing it, but it can bankrupt the business rather quickly. So it's like night and day when I work with these people, they say, Oh my God, my, you know, my bottom line is really growing. Like, we're not having these problems. We're not losing diamonds.

We're not, you know, it's, there's a lot that goes into it. Yeah. It's,

Emily: Okay. It happens.

Jordan: It is. And, you know, that's why I tell my students and not to go on a tangent, but ethics is something that I [00:26:00] try and hammer home, especially with young people is that, you know, we have the opportunity at every step here to take advantage of our clients. You can alloy gold slightly under, you can take, if you have 50 stones, diamonds in a ring, you can put one fake one in, you know, it's, it's You, a lot of times, too, in a retail store, if somebody breaks your stone or they lose it, they will not tell you.

They'll just replace it. And I try and impart to them that the second you make any decision like that, you have lost your credibility. Because there's no coming back with that. We, we deal with things that people have inherited, you know, that's a hundred years old, that are irreplaceable. I don't even care if it's not, you know, financially, you know valuable the sentimental value in most cases is so much higher than a ring that's even, you know, a six figure ring doesn't matter if somebody if that's irreplaceable.

It is. So it's very important. I try to tell people that you at the very beginning. You have to decide to do this the [00:27:00] right way. And so that's something that's also really important to me. And it's something that for people who deal with buying jewelry or getting jewelry made, they should be very careful who they do business with and to really make sure they know who the person is.

So that's just a little thing for that.

Emily: Wow. What a experience. And I just, I'm so thankful for you sharing so candidly about both the highs and the lows, I think, especially a type of. The type of job that you're in where you're sort of, you're, you're pursuing kind of a passion, something that you would love doing, whether you're maybe making money for it or not.

It, it is really helpful to hear that. Yeah, you kind of need to like scrap your way there that you might need to have other jobs. You might need to you know, it might be expensive to go to school. It might take a while for it to pay off, but it can be worth it at the end because there are other paths, pathways that might seem a little bit.

It like easier, but they also don't get to the end where [00:28:00] you are now, where you kind of have this successful career doing something that you really love. So really cool to hear.

Jordan: And I, you know, when I was younger, I said, Oh, if I could just do this every day for the rest of my life, I'd be happy, which is true, but I'm 42 and I want to make as much money as possible also. And that is something that you have to recognize. And I will say that I had to wait 20 years for my skill set to appreciate.

It's not like that now. And so for if anybody is interested in this type of work, Okay. It's not like people are paying 13 an hour anymore. In fact, I really try in my role as a recruiter. I have tried to push the salary and benefits up in the industry because they were it's like restaurant industry. They were kept artificially low for a long time.

Profits were very high. And so it's very hard for the old school or the old guard to realize that, hey, this is now a six figure a year job. It's not a 30, 000 a year job. And [00:29:00] as young people or people are looking for a career change. There are professional schools in America. The classes still cost six or seven thousand dollars for a week or two weeks, and you have to travel, but there is more access than ever was before.

There's online. These things just didn't exist. When I lived in Germany, we didn't even, you know, there was no smartphone. So we, I was still using phone cards to call home. And so this is kind of a golden age in the jewelry industry where There's nothing taboo. If you like cartoons, you can make themed jewelry and someone's gonna buy it.

I personally know someone who engraves Rolexes for 50, 000 at a time just for the engraving work with Disney characters and other things. If you have the skill and you have the vision to Fulfill someone's need the money is there and so I feel like this is an opportune time because, as in all handwork, there's really a dearth of people to fill those needs, whether it's plumbing, electrician, carpentry um, [00:30:00] you know, I mean, I'm all for people going to college if they know what they want and it's focused.

For example, I went back to school for metallurgical engineering because I wanted, I just wanted to have that behind me. So I went back to UMaine as an adult for a couple of years and studied mechanical engineering. And that is something I wish I had done. I don't have any regrets, but I wish that I had utilized my time in school when I was in my twenties to do that, but I didn't have the foresight.

And in fact, you know, one of the questions was, you know, do you regret anything? Where would you change anything? What would you tell your younger self? And for me, it would be, don't try and get through something, you know, slow it down, take every day and try and learn and extract as much out of that as possible, and that is hard when you're not mature, but that's the only, that's the biggest thing I would try and impart on people is that it is the journey.

It's not graduating, getting the diploma too often. I was like, Oh, I can't wait to get my title. [00:31:00] But it's the in between that. Is the growth occurs and where the real value is. So for me, that's the one thing I, instead of just a German degree, I should have done a mechanical engineering degree at the university of Maine.

And they have one of the best programs in the country now, which is. Quite nice. But other than that, I'm very happy with how everything went. And I feel like I'm in the right place. But this is the time for people. If anyone's ever interested in jewelry, we need people. And it's going up, you know, the salaries are going up.

And I would say that for someone who has about 5 to 10 years of experience, 60 to 80, 000 with paid team time off and benefits is becoming quite More of the norm. 

Emily: That's great to know. 

I, you know, I've talked to quite a few people about that, like the early years, what might you do differently? And that the going to college piece right out of high school, one person I spoke to who has a really lengthy and successful educational career [00:32:00] was like, You know, I would tell kids do not go to college right after high school and just try working in any field you're interested in, even if it's an unpaid internship, like, just get out there and experiment and try it.

But it's tough advice too, because we can't know what it would be like if you hadn't gone to college. Gone. If you'd waited to see. And I think when you're 18, it just, it feels like you just have to do this. You have to go to school and you have to get started. And I don't know, I'll be so curious to see if, as the cost of college continues to go up so rapidly, if more clear avenues will develop for people to really try out working and try out different fields before, you know, theoretically they.

There's still a ton of benefit to going to Yeah. secondary education, but it's a tough one.

Jordan: Yeah, I it is tough, but I think it has become easier than it was in for my job. I mean, I am the oldest. Millennial, I guess I don't [00:33:00] consider myself millennial, but I'm literally like, that is, you know, I'm 42. So that was the last and I was glad that I had worked before college because I can tell you, even though I didn't utilize it to its fullest, there was a vast difference between myself and the other students, because when you've worked, you just take school much more seriously.

And. Look, there are so many programs. I would advise people to do the same to take just wait. College will be there. I mean, I know people want to have the college experience, which that's fine. I don't think it's something you need to pay 80, 000 for. But, you know, for example, Bath Ironworks will pay you 2, 000 to go through a welding certification program.

You don't have to work for them. You don't have to do anything. They're just Doing this, the, and welding

is 

a great field. Yeah. So there's programs like that all over, and there are ways to arm yourself with skills for free [00:34:00] that will guarantee you an amount of money. And it's regardless of what's going on with technology or the state of the economy, if you know how to weld.

You're going to have a job. If you know how to do carpentry, you're going to have a job. If you study to become an electrician, you're going to have a job. And all of those jobs are paying a hundred plus dollars an hour. Now, you know, as a welder, it's less as a W2 employee, but if you're on your own, I just really, don't want to sound like a, I mean, I guess I am getting older, but the humanity and the beauty. In being alive and being a human being, I feel like comes through our interpretation of the world through our hands and mouths and whether that's writing or creating, you know, we have lost a lot of that. And I find that to be sad because. We can accomplish a lot with our hands. And I, I do wish that young people especially would start turning to that avenue more, not only because it can be lucrative, but I feel like [00:35:00] spiritually and mental health wise, it's just extremely rewarding because you did this.

You did this. It's not something a machine did. You can take pride in it. I am proud of everything that I make. I take joy in it. I love making things for people that genuinely make them happy. It's funny, I joke, it's very common. For both my client and myself to be in tears when we complete a job, because it's, it's an extremely intimate and emotional thing.

And more often than not, it's to commemorate something that's once in a lifetime or somebody who has been lost or someone's love, you know, which is such a spiritual and rewarding thing. And to be able to facilitate that, I will admit that that positive. Energy and the ego stroking that I get from that.

And just to be candid, I mean, we all like that. We're human beings are egotistical, you know, the world revolves around us to a large extent. And I like making people happy and. [00:36:00] Since I got out of the retail store world, which is like sell, sell, sell and lies and pressure. I am so happy. And I, my clients are so happy because they come here, there's no pressure.

And I get to create something for them oftentimes with their input being a large. Influence what's happening. It's, it's a magical thing. It really is. So I don't know if that sounded silly or

not but, um, you know, in a time when we're all have on social media and we have virtual versions of ourselves and it's very easy to get down yourself because you see the glitz and glamor and everybody's got a nice this, and everybody's taking a vacation here.

It's very easy to get depressed and feel like, what am I doing? So making something. Yeah. So making something in the real world that comes from yourself, I just feel is. like the ultimate reward. So sorry for going.

told 

Emily: that's really 

It's really beautiful. And it's, I [00:37:00] think it's a beautiful thing to kind of build a career off of that. And, and yeah, I totally agree. I mean, I think getting as much into the, into the real world as we all can is, is to our benefit, certainly. So, wow, So you've mentioned a lot of things you love about your career. Is there anything that you would add, especially if you think people might find it surprising?

Right.

Jordan: I don't know how to answer that really. Um, I think that's probably just the monetary aspect of it. I think from the outside. Because a lot of the work I do is what I would call high end fine jewelry, have price tags on them that most people, I mean, the price of a brand new car people would think, Oh, wow, you must be rich, right?

You must, but anybody who has a business understands that there's overhead. And so when you're working with the most expensive materials, Known to man it is possible to make a 50, 000 piece of jewelry [00:38:00] and feel like you're on top of the world. But the thing is, the next day you have to pay 42, 000 worth of invoices.

So, and that's just a random situation, you know, that I'm just throwing numbers out there, but I don't think most people in general, regardless of the business, understand how much capital it takes to. Fun things, you know, so that's I think that's something that would surprise people, especially people who work like in earthwork and other things like that.

Those people have millions of dollars worth of equipment tied up in what they do. And it's yeah. So just that perception, I think it would be surprising to some people. And the amount, I mean, I have, I have, you know, a lot of money tied up into the studio that has taken me 10 years to build. I mean, it wasn't all at once, but there, you know, there's 90 to 100, 000 worth of equipment in my studio currently and that seems impossible, but that's also something that [00:39:00] every day I kind of take a step back.

I play the 10 Years Ago game and it helps to bring me into focus because it's very easy to, like I said, to get down on yourself at times, but it's very important to Take a step back and see the journey and say, look, you know, what would 25 year old Jordan think of this? And then I think, oh, man, he would be like, what could you possibly, you know, want in life besides this?

So I just went off on a tangent. But but yeah, surprising is how much it costs to do anything. I think that's what it would surprise people.

Emily: Yeah. And that tip about thinking, trying to view your life through yourself 10, 20 years ago is such a good one because we all have things that we would have, you know, absolutely dreamed of or been delighted that we had and kind of remembering that I think is so helpful.

Jordan: Yeah, and it's it grows, you know, the more you get, the more your perception of things change, and it's easy to get out of touch with a baseline reality. I think

Emily: [00:40:00] Yeah. Yeah. What do you want to be doing more of or less of in the next five to 10 years?

Jordan: so. That's easy for me. For most of my professional career, all of it, actually, I, I, my goal was to become a technician. My father always, he was a musician, all of actually everyone in my family were musicians. There's something in the recording industry known as studio players. I don't know if you're familiar with this, but these are people they bring in to.

Play for groups who are just such good musicians that they can lay down a track perfectly every time. So they can sight read they, it doesn't matter. Their skill is so proficient that they can do anything that anyone requires of them. And that was always my goal. But now as I'm getting older, I always despise the term art or artists, but now.

I am very interested in making artistic pieces that speak to a different level other than wow, that is really shiny and beautiful. I [00:41:00] mean, there's nothing wrong with

shiny and beautiful. I'm a Neanderthal. We all are to a degree. That's why people love jewelry. You know, it's like, oh, shiny. Nice. Um, but there are things and, you know, that I would like to explore.

And I see like Carl Fabergé or René Lalique or there are people and design houses even old, you know, Egyptian jewelry or Etruscan jewelry that just spoke to things that were on a different level. And while I may never attain that I would like to start striving towards more artistic, one of a kind pieces and less of, you know, Repetitive and not an insulting way, but mundane work.

So that's something that I'd really like to do. And then also it's always been a dream of mine to open up a proper school. That's really well equipped and that we can have people coming in here for some meaningful training. That's something I love. It will always be a passion. I'm looking for an apprentice [00:42:00] right now.

Because I just. It's nice. I've worked with the Ashwood World of School in Rockport before they have a program where eighth graders will apprentice for a year. And that was very, very rewarding. So, yeah, artistic work, teaching and just, you know, passing it along is very important to me as I move forward.

Emily: I love that. So you already answered this question, you answered it quite well, but just if you have anything you would want to add and this is the last question I have, what's one piece of advice generally about work that you would give your younger self? if you don't have anything dad, that's okay.

Jordan: Yeah, it's just know where you want to go and keep your eye on it and don't try and take any shortcuts. And that's to everyone. I try and impart this to young people, especially, but it's just as good advice for adults is that our natural tendency and inclination is to Lean away from suffering and pain.

I am of a different [00:43:00] school. I believe that it's very important as humans for us to lean into pain and to lean into suffering, because that is where growth comes from. I believe growth comes from failure and necessity, and you can't do either of those things without putting yourself in an uncomfortable position.

So if you're always seeking the path of least resistance, I just find that your level of growth is not going to be where you want it to be. And everybody's got different expectations, but you can't ever be afraid of, of failing. And, and you've got to be willing to put yourself in some uncomfortable situations.

If you are aspiring to do things that in your mind are great. That's, that's great. That's it, you know, don't try and take shortcuts, don't try and waste an hour, don't try and waste any time. You don't know how much of it you have, so I really just take every minute and concentrate and be in that moment.

And there's time for the future and the past has already occurred, so, [00:44:00] you know, really focus on right now, which is difficult for us all.

Emily: Ah, I love that. That is so beautiful. So do you want to share where people can find out more about you 

Jordan: people can find me on Instagram. It's at Jordan Adam designs. I have a very limited following, but that's fine.

I have a very outdated website and I'm on Facebook as well. But I think, you know, most people are kind of on Instagram. My website is. www. jordanadamdesigns. com and on Facebook, it's Jordan Adam designs. And if anybody's interested in finding out more and I don't even mean teaching, I'm very open with my time.

If people are interested, I'm very happy to give of that time to people because I know how hard it was when I first started out and I don't want people's interests or dreams to be crushed. I would much rather help play a role in, in making those things come to fruition. So if anyone listening to it or anybody, you know, is interested, especially young people, I am so happy to help [00:45:00] and to try and get somebody on the path towards something that they want to do.

So,

Emily: Oh, that's such a generous offer and I will make sure to link all that in the show notes so people can find it.

 Thank you so much for your time.

Jordan: No, I appreciate it. 

Thanks for joining me. If you liked the show, please rate and review on iTunes and Spotify. And please share with a friend. You can also follow the podcast on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or ticktock. And if you'd like to be interviewed here or there's a particular job you'd like to learn about, please reach out@realworkreallifeatgmail.com.