February 02, 2022 — We are learning more about why so many jobs are going unfilled – what some economists call “the great quit”. It turns out that some workers quit to become bosses themselves.
A record 5.4 million new businesses were started across the country last year, wiping out the previous record high set the year before in 2020 by around one million.
A St. Regis Falls woman was unfulfilled by the retail or office jobs she had held. So she quit and pursued her dreams.
Bounce from job to job
Kaitlyn Wood’s family has lived in St. Regis Falls in the northern Adirondacks for ages, she says. “I have a house at the falls that my family built in 1884 or something,” Wood says.
She too wanted to live her life there. So she got a fine arts degree at SUNY Potsdam. She has always been attracted to artistic projects. “It got me through most things throughout my life.”
But there were few art jobs or careers in or around St. Regis Falls. So she ended up finding work with the usual suspects. “I worked at Walmart as a cashier. I worked in a restaurant as a waitress and assistant manager,” Wood explains.
But these jobs were not satisfying. So she tried clerical work at a small travel agency in Malone. She butted heads with her boss, but it was okay.
Then the pandemic hit. “It was a crazy time for the travel industry,” Wood said. Because so few people were traveling, her boss had to cut everyone’s hours to part-time. Wood has started working from home.
And that’s when his life began to change.
“After two or three days, I was like, ‘Oh, you know what I can do with all my free time? I could do something to improve my life!'” she says. “Because it looked like it would be a while before anything reopened.”
“What is going to be the best career change for me?”
Wood’s mother had bought him a tattoo kit as a graduation present. Wood had tattoos herself. It was something artistic that had always been on his mind.
“So I started doing research. I picked up some books I had bought, put all my fake skin on and so forth, and I had a little space,” and she learned how to tattoo .
It was all that time at home, Wood says, where she started thinking. She suffered a lot from depression and anxiety in her life. Being your own boss might help. “It was kind of like, ‘what’s going to be best for me mentally as a career change?'”
She left that part-time travel agency job and opened KC’s tattoo studio in her hometown of St. Regis Falls. “It makes me a lot happier. The amount of control I have over everything is really good for me.”
Wood says what’s missing in so many of those thousands of unfilled jobs, perhaps as much as better pay or benefits, is that sense of ownership, control, or investment.
“All my peers have had pretty much crappy jobs that they’ve hated,” Wood says, “and they do the hard work to get through and pay their bills and live and feed themselves, and they’re all miserable and they’ve got it.” been miserable for years.”
The coronavirus pandemic, she says, and the accompanying stress over vaccines, masks, sickness or death, and being stuck at home, put things into perspective.
“It kind of made it less scary to take those steps to quit the job you hate and go get something else.”
Business at KC’s tattoo studio is good, not amazing. It has only been open since last November. January is a slow time for tattoos.
But Kaitlyn Wood has clients. She can pay her bills. It’s a risk, she knows it. But at least now she’s in charge of her own destiny.