Liv Ballard, of Los Angeles, CA, had always been passionate about art and art history. She loved pottery, ceramics, collecting vintage jewelry, speaking French.

Then she got married, and stepped into the role of supportive wife, particularly once her husband's career as a record producer starting taking off. This is a role Ballard held for over 25 years until one day, she says, she felt it was time to "step out of the shadows" and get back to her creative roots.

Here's how she did it, and how you can, too, in three easy steps.

Be Courageous
"I had a desire to express myself as an artist, scary as that might be," says Ballard, whose decision to make bold, sophisticated, one-of-a-kind jewelry and ultimately start her own premium line coincided with the decision to end her marriage (and the safety net that comes with the territory). "It was overwhelming, but you can't be fearful; you have to be willing to step into the arena," says Ballard. "And doing what I love doing has been so fulfilling." Not to mention, rewarding: Ballard's pieces, which retail from $15,000 to $65,000, are now sold at Maxfield, a luxury boutique in Los Angeles, and on www.1stdibs.com. And she proudly counts rock stars and royalty among her clients.


Test Drive Your New Lifestyle
"I spent at least two or three years mulling this over and letting the idea 'infuse,'" says Ballard. After all, she wanted to make sure the timing was right, that her sons were old enough to understand, and that she had the goods, and could deliver. She started traveling, drawing, networking, studying art history at UCLA (taking nearly an entire catalog of courses), talking to goldsmiths, producing prototypes, and meeting with prospective buyers. "It just all fell into place," and she never looked back, launching Liv Ballard in 2007.

Find A Mentor
Finding someone who also has a passion for your chosen field and wants to share their knowledge is essential. Ballard found that mentor -- an inspiring master goldsmith who was not only willing to try new things, but was also capable of the imaginative engineering work that many of her handmade pieces require -- in Rome.

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