By Renée Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
Society has come a long way in accepting the pursuit of non-traditional careers and yet those who follow that path often hear, “Is that a realistic career choice?”
As an aspiring artist, Kristi Mendes is unfazed by the statement. The twenty-four-year-old told the Catholic News for as long as she remembered, she loved the arts and craft-making.
Yet, her academic journey never focused on the subject area. “I took art for one year in secondary school then graduated with a double major in Geography and Natural Resources at UWI, St Augustine… just because I liked Geography at the time.”
While completing her undergraduate four years ago, Mendes said she would continue drawing, painting and crafting. The passion never ceased. She shared, “It is very therapeutic to draw and see how different patterns and colours look together. The result always wows me.”
During the holidays, she would get an opportunity to work as an office assistant. While grateful for the learning experience, she knew from then an office-type job was not for her.
Mendes gave in to her calling earlier this year and registered her home-business KMikela Designs, offering paintings, cards, decorative tiles, tee-shirts and an Adult Colouring Book. She admitted she has no preferred style or technique when it comes to her work but will simply let the creativity flow once she has the concept.
“I love that my business offers me a platform to share my talents and materialise the many ideas I have. Of course, it also makes me happy when people say they love what I produce.”
While there are times sales are not as frequent as she would like, she says, “There are certain periods like Christmas, where I am constantly producing work for clients.”
Asked whether her family approved KMikela Designs as a full-time career she easily said “Yes!”, adding her parents were never the type to push STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). “My family are artistic people on both sides. I also have two sisters who are pursuing different artistic career paths so I think my parents understood and accepted we are creative and have really supported that.”
As a parishioner of St Benedict’s, La Romaine she felt “honoured” to design the front page for this year’s Christmas issue of the Catholic News. When called upon, she also gives of her talent to her parish.
She hopes to encourage young people like herself to choose the path of happiness over monetary gain. “I think everyone should strive to pursue something that can make you happy. Forge a career around a field you can see yourself doing every day. Yes, money is necessary but no one should do something that is making you dislike at least eight hours of your day.”
A discovery made while cleaning her room, Mendes said, confirmed why following her passion is worthwhile. “I found one of my old childhood diaries, the ones that ask you a bunch of questions in the first few pages. Under ‘What would you like to be when you grow up?’, I wrote ‘Artist’ and thought how could I disappoint younger me?”