In her job as a human resources officer for a Connecticut-based retail company, Allison Baldwin often encouraged people to take risks — but she rarely took them herself.
Then came the day when she and her longtime partner, Ilene Mitnick, found themselves empty-nesters and growing increasingly less fond of their jobs. They asked each other, “What would bring us joy?”
After months of soul searching, the couple opened Roux, a Victorian-style bed and breakfast in the arts district of Provincetown, Massachusetts, decked out in tangerine-colored walls, zebra-print chairs, and lovingly tended gardens.
“Where else can you get paid for hosting sleepovers?” says Baldwin, enthusiastically describing their lives as innkeepers. “You get to leave the nine to five behind, work for yourself, meet wonderful people, and live for free. If you’re genetically wired for this lifestyle, it’s not hard.”
You get to leave the nine to five behind, work for yourself, meet wonderful people, and live for free. If you’re genetically wired for this lifestyle, it’s not hard.
Today, after five successful years (they turned a profit in year one), the two women have decided to jump again.
“If you’re an entrepreneur at heart, you know you’re going to eventually have an itch,” says Mitnick, who closed her boutique marketing agency to open Roux. Their next adventure will be working out of their new home in St. Petersburg, Florida, as wellness advocates for a premier essential oils company. Zest, the name of their new venture, is a direct segue from their years at Roux.
“We realized that this is an extension of the B&B experience,” says Mitnick, a breast cancer survivor who turned to essential oils to supplement her healing proecess. “It’s still sharing.”
For Jacqueline Neves, aka J.Q. Louise, sharing her life on social media has turned from a passion — she says, obsession — to a full-time job. Until recently, J.Q. Louise worked at a tech startup in Boston. The rest of the time, she pursued photography and travel writing via her Instagram account and website.
Once eager to dive into high finance, the more she indulged her hobbies, the clearer it became that travel and discovery were what made her tick—even, she says, “If it was just that new place that opened up down the street.”
As a full-time blogger and influencer (with 80,300 Instagram followers and counting), Neves has indeed expanded her horizons. In fact, for this article, I reached her in Cambodia, heading for Thailand and Bali.
The pros? “I get to do what I have always been passionate about. I get to travel all over the world. I get to meet some amazing people along the way, and being paid for it is a dream come true,” she says. The cons? “Every day I need to be working, no matter if I am at my office in Boston, or on a beach in Southeast Asia. I have emails, meetings, deadlines, articles to write and photos to edit.”
As Neves learned, sometimes, you have to start living the dream while doing something else.
Sometimes, you have to start living the dream while doing something else.
Monday through Friday, Laura Gaito is a vice president of commercial banking at Rockland Trust on Cape Cod. She has been in the industry for more than 30 years.
On weekends, the Ellen DeGeneres doppelgänger is on the local craft brewery circuit in her What The Truck food truck, doling out scratch-made crab cakes, pulled pork and Buffalo chicken dip.
“It’s all about getting ready for liftoff,” says Gaito, who figures she has about 1,000 more days working her day job until her mortgage is paid off. “My exit plan is the food truck.”
Gaito didn’t know the first thing about running a food truck, including driving it, but she says she’s a nurturer at heart and wanted to offer an alternative to the PB&J-type fare usually available at the road races she ran.
After reading “Food Trucks for Dummies” and buying a second-hand ice cream truck, she launched her business. From last April through November, What The Truck was booked every weekend.
Gaito, a big believer in karma, likens her entrepreneurial drive to the time she ran an eight-mile road race up Mt. Washington. Nearing the finish line, a friend’s shouts of encouragement irked her. “Of course, I was going to keep going,” she says. “You have to do the same with life … you don’t stop!”
Of course, I was going to keep going. You have to do the same with life … you don’t stop!