Trusting the Process – How I ended up doing what I’ve always loved
January 29, 2011 12 Comments
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1997, I graduated from Tuskegee University with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in Tuskegee, Alabama. Excited, about the new opportunities that lie ahead for me in the architecture work world, I was only to be let down by a down architecture hiring freeze. Fortunately, in Tuskegee, one of the few African American architects had also been one of my professors at Tuskegee, and he hired me for a year and a half. What a great job. It was only a 3 person firm, but I learned a lot and in 1998, realized I needed to grow from the small college town, and accepted a job in Jacksonville, Florida at a well known architecture and construction company that designed and built commercial buildings. This was the big times for me! Corporate world… here I am!
For the first few years I absolutely loved architecture, my job, and all of the challenges that came along with it. I started taking my architecture licensing exams in 2000. Many have compared the architectural licensing exams with the Bar exam that lawyers must take. It was a nine part test that I would soon learn would be the death of my spirit, my confidence, and what would make me bitter and cynical toward the architecture profession. Every test had test preparation courses to get ready, books, CD’s online tests, you name it, and it was out there to prepare for the “A.R.E’s”. I literally dreaded going into my yearly evaluations with my boss, where they would ask me how many tests had I failed and how many had I passed. Every year it was a different number… but it was always a higher number of failing than passing.
After the birth of my daughter in 2005, I had taken the tests for 5 years and was failing miserably. I was being pigeonholed at work, and when I asked for more responsibility on projects, I was nudged to the side and handed red lines, while I watched my male counterparts move pass me with the opportunities that I had initiated. It was time for me to move on, I wasn’t growing, my company wasn’t appreciating me, and when one of my coworkers moved to a competing architecture design firm and he asked me to come… I was right behind him in 2007.
Starting at the new design firm was refreshing and exciting, although very stressful. After two months at the job, my coworker who I had followed was let go due to personal issues, and then started the slow leak of my new job.
Fortunately for me, I am and always will be highly ambitious. What I couldn’t get at work, I would come home and learn on the internet. I’ve always been a home decor, realty, DIY fanatic – in college my friends affectionately called me the “The Black Martha Stewart”, and to this day I idolize Martha and her Omnimedia mogul status – vowing one day I will create a similar presence but in Ronique’s own way. In the summer of 2009 I decided to start a home staging business that was more of a hobby than for profit. While being able to sell my 2 homes successfully on my own, I started Stagetecture to help home owners, but also have a website to hold my inspirations, give advice, and call home for myself and build another world.
By 2010, my work world was unfulfilling; I had passed my LEED Accreditation exam as a divergence from the Architectural Registration exams, and realized I no longer had a drive to become an architect. While I still loved the principles, the profession had made me numb and bitter. My night life of helping friends with their homes, writing my Stagetecture blog, and reading other lifestyle blogs consumed my life, and my architecture job, while helping me financially, was leaving me sleep deprived, and hungry for more of my new ‘work world’ in my night life.
In the summer of 2010, through social media, I met up with several online architecture and interior blog owners and started freelance writing to get my feet wet. I took it on as a hobby, and then started realizing there was a huge market and I loved the challenge. What began as a small taste on a tiny blog turned into writing for a blog that receives 2 million viewers monthly, catapulted me into worldwide stardom and recognition. The taste turned into a gulp, and I haven’t turned back since.
In September 2010, I was offered a trip by an elite refrigerator and stove manufacturer to tour their facility and meet with other designers and kitchen bloggers – I jumped at the chance. This was my sign for jumping ship and starting my new life! Two weeks prior, I turned in my resignation and told myself that this trip would mark the start of my new entrepreneurial life. While this new life hasn’t always been roses, I wake up at 4am and sit at my computer for 13 hour long days… the money isn’t where I’d like…. But…
…It’s all mine. This process has been well worth it. I powered through each step to see what I DIDN’T want out of my life. Everyday I see people miserable at what they do… my advice, set your sights on what you DO want, and then trust the process, every step is required to get you to the other side… I’m living and breathing, happy proof.