Sandra owned a dance school in Manhattan for 15 years when the economic collapse happened in 2008. “When the recession hit, I started losing a lot of students, and dance studios around the city were going bankrupt,” recalls Sandra. “Suddenly, the arts weren’t a priority.”
Sandra figured she could cut back on health insurance because she’d always been so fit and healthy. However, in 2009 she was struck with a near-fatal medical condition and emergency surgery that left her with a mountain of medical bills.
“I was $62,000 in debt, unemployed and flat broke, and I had no idea what I was going to do,” says Sandra. “I had money saved up, but it was amazing to see how fast it all goes. And I knew what I had to do.”
“I had so much beautiful jewelry, and I had to sell all of it. Every last piece,” remembers Sandra. “I cried, but I thought to myself, it’s only material. I was selling jewelry to eat – that’s how bad my life had gotten.”
A friend invited her to attend a gala, and she realized she didn’t have a single piece of jewelry to wear. She quickly sifted through the drawers of old beads and crystals she had used to decorate her dance costumes, and made herself a matching necklace and earrings. “Five people stopped me that night and asked me where they could buy it,” said Sandra. “And so all of a sudden I was a jewelry designer.”
While jewelry making has given her some extra financial flexibility, Sandra has also held a few administrative jobs over the last couple of years – and Bottomless Closet has provided her with much needed professional attire, resume help, and coaching whenever she’s needed it. And when she saw the boutique, she realized that she could share her jewelry creations and help other women in need.
Sandra recently came in for her post-hire appointment after being hired as an administrator for a chef service company. And she brought another big donation of handmade necklaces along with her. “I just feel so good bringing it here because I know that I’m helping somebody.”