Linda Kittrell Joins The Re-Invention Connection

Hello Boomers,

Our latest Re-Invention Connection is Linda Kittrell, owner of CactusFlower Studio in Dallas, TX.  Her story is both sobering and inspiring.  Read about the motivation, inspiration, and determination that lead to Linda’s Re-Invention as a Boomer Entrepreneur. 

Doctor, my goal is survival… 

By Linda Kittrell

Those are the exact words I told my gynecologic oncologist. Boy, my personal circumstances have been life altering!   In March 2006, life seemed normal: I was a single-mom teaching French, my daughter was a junior in high school, and we were both healthy.  But by April, 2006, after having increasingly severe pains in my left abdomen, I was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer. Surgery was May 12, 2006; then I spent the next 11 months in chemotherapy—and one year unemployed.  

Medical side effects meant I could no longer return to the classroom, but I still needed to return to the workforce.  July 2007, I started looking for work that would afford me a flexible schedule and the ability to earn a living.   I had pretty good luck at landing job interviews, but you guessed it—companies really weren’t too interested in bringing on someone with a 1 year gap in employment.  

Interview questions went something like this:

Question:  You have excellent skills, but why is there a gap in your employment?

Possible Answers:  I am independently wealthy and don’t really need to work.  (This is a lie)   

or:  No one wants to hire me.  (This is true since not many companies wanted to hire a 57-year-old.)

or:  I was in medical treatment and really wasn’t able to work.    (This is true)

Let’s be honest—none of these answers would secure employment.  I would have had a better chance of landing the job if I were independently wealthy as well as 57 years old rather than admitting I had a major illness!! 

After sending hundreds of resumes and having at least 15 interviews, I realized I needed to shift my thinking.  Let me say that my goal was still survival—financial survival.   I am motivated to create a rewarding career—remember I am a single mom, so I decided to re-educate myself.  I spent the next 2 or 3 months zeroing in on options.  This was daunting since I didn’t have much capital to use and needed something not requiring years of training.   I chose esthetics because I learned during chemo that the skin is the canvas and it needs to be primed and ready before the artist applies the “paint”.  And, losing eyebrows and eyelashes—traumatic!  Easy to wear wigs, but absolutely cannot apply false eyelashes without your own lashes!! 

As the Baby Boomer generation is the largest segment of society, I decided to offer esthetic services which would benefit them.  (And yes, I am one, too !!)   Six months later after completing training for electrolysis and permanent cosmetics, I opened CactusFlower Studio.  In addition to the services I offer, I have additional revenue streams as an independent sales rep for two companies whose equipment I use.  (It never hurts to diversify.) 

Remember, I had limited capital.  Having cancer is very costly and sucked up almost all of my savings.  So, I had to find assistance with the cost of training.  That was really hard for me.  After all, my parents taught me to work and provide for myself and not take hand-outs.  It is really humbling to admit that outside financial help is needed.  But fortunately for me, the state of Texas has programs in place to help those with a need for rehabilitation.  My surgery and medical treatment rendered me unable to legally stay in a classroom, so my Teacher Retirement System allowed a disability retirement.  This determination qualified me for assistance with re-training as well as some equipment needed.   Without the help of D.A.R.S. and my wonderful advisor, Margo Rye, I would not have been able to open my business.  Remember, while we may not want to ask for help, it is sometimes necessary.  So, my advice is to swallow that pride and ask.  It is better to have a helping hand than to become a statistic on the welfare rolls!

I truly believe life is a journey, and we never know what opportunity may come our way.  Little did I realize that my new career path as a business owner of an esthetics studio would open the door to an awesome new opportunity:  Rodan + Fields Dermatologists.  Who better to align with than two of the most respected dermatologists in the country.   And this never would have come my way without my re-training and opening my own business.

While life-altering changes are frightening, we never know what blessing may come from it.  I would encourage any one thinking about a new endeavor to just go for it.   Sometimes a good thing happens!

CactusFlower Studio, Dallas, TX offers micro-current face and body sculpting, electrolysis permanent hair removal, permanent cosmetics, and far infrared body wraps.    www.cactusflowerstudio.com

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2 Responses to “Linda Kittrell Joins The Re-Invention Connection”

  1. Pam Says:

    I had a bout of breast cancer 18 years ago, fortunately I wasn’t working @ the time, I can’t imagine what your mind set must have been recovering from the effects of beating cancer and trying to find a different career.

    That being said, you were fortunate that your concerns surfaced in 2006, before the economy tanked and states still had the funds for retraining. The circumstances now are even more dire for a person in your situation than they would be under normal conditions.

    Best of luck to you and your family in the future.

  2. shellyscriba Says:

    Pam,

    We’re so glad that you’re a survivor. We agree that dealing with cancer is bad enough – add that on top of being a single parent and needing to Re-Invent oneself into an entrepreneur and it all the more challenging.

    Fortunately, Linda has risen to that challenge beautifully. We are so pleased that she has agreed to tell her story to inspire other Baby Boomers who may be thinking “What will I do now?”

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