Are you tired of posters on light poles inviting you to make tons of money without working? Or late night advertorials featuring couples who "made $5,000 last month without working at all!" We are a nation drunk with success excess. What made us think that we should have mansions, fortune and fame, yet not have to work to get them?
I believe we were meant to engage in meaningful work, so it was refreshing to exchange emails last week with Lynnette Simmons, a graphics artist and member of the Indie Beauty Network. I asked her if I could give her phone number to someone who needed some graphics work. Her reply was, "All work is good work!" I was intrigued by her enthusiasm, and in honor of Labor Day, set out to learn more about Lynnette.
dM: I'm intriguted by your statement that "all work is good work." You are a single mom with a full time job, a freelance graphics design business and a beauty business. Why do you work so much?
I am a contract Art Director at a large corporation. "Permalancer" is the current term for the type of worker I am. My contract officially ended on June 27, 2007, but as a "temp," I will stay until I am no longer needed or am offered a full-time staff position. I work so much because I was out of work for two years after my son was born and am repairing a lot of financial damage.
I went through all of my savings and ran up every credit card I had in the hopes that I would find a decent job. It took two full years and moving in with my mother before I found a "quarterway" decent job. I wasn't picky as the New York City job market was dead. It's still extremely tight if you are over the age of 22.
dM: With a good job and two businesses of your own, do you have a lot of money?
I wish! Almost every dime is accounted for in a tight spending plan. I pay for my son's private school and health care through the state sponsored health insurance program. I get $132 a month in child support, which I deposit into a savings account through my son's school's credit union. With compounded interest, it will pay for some of his future education expenses.
I live with my mother and pay my share of the expenses. I also went back to school to sharpen my graphics skills, so I am repaying two student loans.
dM: Where do the body care products fit in?
I started making them when I was completely broke and my hair felt like a steel cleaning pad. I had access to the Internet and lots of time while working at a work study job, and since I love learning new things, I started making products for myself. People wanted to buy them so my business was born. There is nothing better than using freshly made lotions and creams on your skin. My customers love them.
dM: And the freelance design work?
I only accept projects that I can manage. I like working with small businesses that need logos, labels, print ads and banner ads because their needs are discreet and I can work on a few projects at a time. My rates are reasonable and people like my work.
dM: Do you like working so much?
No. But I will only be doing it until I get straight financially. I work like this now because I want my son, Kendal, to have a good life. He starts kindergarten on Wednesday. I am fighting my way back like a champ. Working for my family makes my daily struggles in corporate America tolerable.
dM: Where does your work ethic come from?
It's both a family and a personality trait. When I do something, I give it my all. I look for the lesson in everything and try to find the positive in every situation. I choose to be happy. I come from a family of people who work hard. If we had a family motto, it would be, "If you want to do better, you have to put in the necessary work."
Most of my immediate family members put themselves through college while working. One of my cousins who is also a single mother did it, and today, she's a Ph.D. candidate.
dM: What does Labor Day mean to you?
A lot. Forty years ago, I would have been cleaning the offices in which I now work as an Art Director. I am grateful to all who paved the way before me.
dM: We are pulling for you, Lynette!
Becoming wealthy without hard work is a fantasy. Lynette and people like her are reality. As Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison said in her book, Song Of Solomon, if you want to accomplish anything, you've got to "put your mind to it and your back in it." Lynette is clearly doing both, as one of millions of Americans whose dilligence is making a substantial contribution to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Lynette says that all work is good work, and in her case, not only is work good, but she is doing good work. Through
six|fifteen, (Update: 9/6/2010: website link no longer working) she sells bath and body products for men and women. You can view her impressive graphics portfolio and get a quote for your artwork needs here.
If Labor Day means something special to you, please share it in the Comments section.