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Career 180: It all started with tea parties

Tracy Stern (Patrick McMullan)

Tracy Stern (Patrick McMullan) Photo Credit: Tracy Stern (Patrick McMullan)

Tracy Stern is the founder of the philanthropic jewelry design company “Cuffs for a Cause,” which donates roughly 40% of its proceeds to women’s charities. Stern, who is in her early 40s, founded the tea and lifestyle company SALONTEA, an international business that she sold earlier this year. (She remains a partial owner). She lives in Turtle Bay.

Why did you switch careers?
I was on a national T.V. show for Bravo and they were doing a whole tea party where I dressed up and did an over-the-top tea party. Well, someone called in and said she wanted to open a tea shop … and over Christmas she asked if she can buy the whole company and make it international … and I said, ‘wow, let me do something completely different.’ I’ve always dressed up and … I get invitations to go to all the fashion events and people always asked, ’are you in fashion?’ and I said, ‘no I’m in the tea business’ … I just always felt such a connection. I had taken a class about two years ago … and I started \[making jewelry\] myself and I was making necklaces and friends’ bracelets and earrings and things like that. \[I\] loved it; it was definitely one of my passions.

What are some pros and cons of your new job?
There are many challenges [in] starting a new business, but I’m thrilled to promote it because there is a philanthropic heart that encapsulates the company “Cuffs for a Cause.”

One of the cons is having to find suppliers in a new industry, but that challenge will be rewarding when people get to share in helping empowering women’s charities.

Are you happy with your career switch?
Yes, I’m thrilled because I naturally delve into fashion and am immersed with the company of fashionable NYers and designers. When I am out at parties, people compliment me on my jewelry.

Looking back, do you wish you had gone into this originally? Why?
I always wished I was in fashion but I knew there were a million fashion designers, and I happened to always love tea parties and since I was little I was always dressing up over-the-top for my tea … so it allowed me to be in fashion. … I think that’s the connection … it’s as if I had multiple personalities and I was split. I always felt I was in fashion but it was because of the tea. … It’s natural that I went from tea to fashion … I think they’re just connected.

Do you have any advice for readers who are considering a career 180?
Sometimes, you have to go with your gut feeling and run with it!

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