Visionary Entrepreneur Sees Handbag Design Dream Come to Life

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Wendy Gillette left her teaching assistant job in a Shelburne, NY, school to pursue an entrepreneur's dream of creating a business designing handbags. After lots of hard work, struggle and some down times, her dream is becoming a reality. SKJ Lifestyles is coming to life and seeing the rewards of Gillette's vision backed by patience and fortitude.

Driven by a vision of a handbag, Wendy Gillette is living out the life of an entrepreneur as she works to make the vision a reality.

Gillette was formerly a teacher's assistant at a local school. Yet she dreamed of reaching out to people to empower them. At a critical point she felt compelled to take the next step in making her dream come true. So, she left the school and started SKJ Lifestyles and hasn't looked back.

In the midst of her making her dream a reality the image of a handbag came to her. "This image, or vision, of the handbag came to me in such a strange way -- just like it was put right in front of me. I couldn't ignore it," said Gillette. "It was odd to me at first because it was so far out of the realm of my daily life and work."

The image wouldn't go away, though, so Gillette, who had never sewn before, enlisted the help of her mother and her children. Together they produced several samples. "The early handbags didn't really match my vision, but people liked them and we sold them and got started," said Gillette.

As Gillette moved forward in her entrepreneurial work, it wasn't always easy. It took time to find the right materials and company to produce the bags and free up her time to focus on design and sales and marketing.

Gillette started knocking on doors and soon found boutiques that were interested in carrying her products. She also developed a company name -- SKJ Lifestyles, which recognized the initials of the first names of her three children and also tapped into her mission statement, which is about providing men and women with strength and knowledge for the journey.

Gillette also has incorporated an illustration of a woman on the first handbag in her line and says the striking image has generated a lot of comments.

"I overheard my daughter saying something about the eyes being the window to your soul and that really stayed with me," added Gillette. "I worked with an illustrator to create the image and now we're using it in a lot of ways. It's part of our look, our brand."

Gillette's entrepreneurial drive has been tested, she says, because it's tough work to run a business and do everything yourself. "Over time, I hope to grow career opportunities, the handbag line, and add other designs and products. But, for right now, I have faith in my vision and I'm working hard to continue to make it a reality."

For more information on SKJ Lifestyles, or to purchase a handbag, visit SKJ Lifestyles.

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Wendy Gillette

Kae Wagner
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