Thanks to her emancipation, a wide field is open to the modern woman who wants to work
GERTRUDE E. S. PRINGLEJune151927
Finding Your Right Niche
Thanks to her emancipation, a wide field is open to the modern woman who wants to work
GERTRUDE E. S. PRINGLE
Woman and their Work
“I DON’T mind working. All I ask is work that is interesting.” This is the plaint of many who are frankly bored with their job. Teachers who chafe at the routine of school, stenographers who are misfits in an office, played-out nurses who need rest more than their patients—we’ve all come across them.
Work that we don’t enjoy is pure drudgery. That explains why artists are content with less money than business would bring. Their real payment is the joy they get out of their work.
Ask some discontented workers what they would rather do, and you will find vague aspirations instead of concrete aims. Their thoughts are set more on the ultimate goal than the means of reaching it.
“I’d like to write stories for the magazines,” says one, whose life has been colorless and dull.
“My great desire is to furnish beautiful houses for the wealthy,” explains another, who has embellished her garret with black painted furniture and stencilled cheesecloth.
And so merely wishing for a thing, without working for it, leads nowhere.
That is why I want to tell of five girls who have discovered the way out of irksome labor to work they really enjoy. They are a shop girl, an office girl, a stenographer, ä dressmaker and a school teacher. Which shows that it matters not what we are. All that is needed is the will to succeed.
LET us begin with the shop girl. Her story proves she has ambition, imagination and initiative.
Her people were poor, so at fifteen she found work in a basement bargain counter. You know how close and stuffy some of these places are. Put yourself in the place of this youngster, day after day standing on tired feet, selling nutmeg graters and soap shakers in that used-up atmosphere. Then you will realize the strength of purpose she showed in attending night classes. You see she was bent on climbing out of the basement. After absorbing stenography for eight or ten months (and practising her loops and dashes when customers were scarce) she one day returned radiant from her lunch hour. Instead of her usual slice of apple pie a la mode, she had secured a job as a stenographer at $12 a week. She was now distinctly on the up grade.
But the urge still driving her o,n, she next enrolled as a student of Expression in evening classes. To pay for these lessons she scrimped and saved, walking to save car fare and wearing her old clothes until she loathed the sight of them. At the end of a year her teacher told her that reciting was not her forte, but advised her to try for a position in a publishing house, where she would eventually learn to write. She did try, and perseverance again won her a place. That was a few years ago. She now has an excellent position that brings her much in contact with people, and enables her to dress well and travel quite a bit. Quite a change from selling hardware in a basement, but worth the effort it entailed.
LAST winter a dressmaker-by-the-day J felt the need of work that would relieve her from sitting so constantly. Seeking advice, she was told that beautyparlor work might offer her greater satisfaction. Acting on the suggestion, she took evening lessons with a private teacher at a cost of $50 for three months. When summer came she was proficient and hied her to a popular summer place where she found plenty of work in curling bobs and giving complexion treatments and manicures. Since returning to the city she has continued her beauty work, visiting patrons in their homes, and is more than pleased at the change in her life.
Here is an interesting outcome of a correspondence course. A stenographer, tired of office routine and longing to express herself in terms of beauty, subscribed to a mail course in Interior decoration. One day her chance came when a large company offered prizes for the best plans for furnishing certain rooms. Enter-
ing the competition, this girl won second prize. The result was that the firm, seeing she had distinct promise, offered her a position at $25 a week, with good prospects for her future. She is now happily occupied with the beautiful things she sighed for.
A TEACHER of domestic science became bored with school monotony, and desired greater independence as well as more money. So resigning, she bravely launched out into a tiny white shop with one assistant. There she turned out the most irresistible looking cakes, bread, buns and pies imaginable. That was nearly one year ago. She now employs four women who work under her supervision, is sold out every day, enjoys her enterprise and finds her bank account increasingly satisfactory.
Here is a little story in the making—the completion of it just around the corner, so to speak. A very stylish girl employed in a financial institution was complimented on her taste in dress by a woman customer. “But,” she said, “you must spend a lot on your clothes to be always so exquisitely turned out.” “Indeed I don’t. I make all my frocks in the evening at home,” the young girl replied. “Why then,” exclaimed the surprised customer,_ “you should certainly be a dress designer.” “I’d love to be. How could I learn the work?” asked the girl eagerly. It so happened the customer knew of an excellent school, and told the girl of it. She applied and was accepted as a student in the evening class. Before long this really clever girl will be able to take a well-paid post as designer in a manufacturing firm, and from then on her progress should be quite satisfactory both artistically and financially. Anyone gifted with a taste for design need not waste time adding up figures. There are so many who can do that work, while few have a talent for design.
ASENSE of humor started one girl along the path of journalism, although it was hard work and a definite aim that made her achieve her goal.
Some few years ago, it so happened, the child of a neighbor made a droll remark to the girl, which amused her greatly. “If I find this so funny, so will others,” she reasoned. Acting on this thought she wrote it out and despatched it to one of the humorous magazines. A cheque for three dollars was the result. That settled it. From that moment she resolved to be a writer.
For a time family obligations forced her to put aside her own desires. Her brother had started a little grocery and needed her. So, cheerfully she undertook the dual work of counter clerk and housekeeper, though it was far from being her choice. Soon she was writing the weekly advertising for the little enterprise, and enjoying the increased business this brought. In a couple of years her brother sold out very advantageously, for which he gave her much of the credit, and she was then free to visit a married sister in a distant city.
For some months she had been taking a correspondence course in English composition to improve her vocabulary. Now she felt confident enough to apply at a newspaper office for a post as reporter, relying on her advertising experience. She obtained the position, made good, remained there about eighteen months, then resigned—no, not to be married, but to devote her entire time to writing stories for the magazines, as various editors had been most encouraging. So now, after some years of apprenticeship and preparation, she has found the work she loves to do, and is making good at it.
WHEN the midsummer vacation arrived this year, one university girl graduate was weary of books and wanted a complete change. Work that would pay something and give her an outing was her demand. With an idea simmering in her mind, she and her mother explored the countryside within a fifteen-mile radius of one of our large cities, and discovered Continued on page 66
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a pretty little cottage to rent, at a low figure. There they established themselves, and the girl who was an excellent fudgemaker, extended her repertoire to include a variety of the ever popular chocolate creams. Close at hand was a highway connecting with the city, which at all hours of the day was thronged with motor traffic. So Mademoiselle B.A., who is a born carpenter, collected some light lumber, tools, straw and paints, and there constructed a toy cottage, just big enough to ,hold a counter, a chair and some shelves. This she capped with a thatched straw roof, and the result was a miniature English cottage. A brightly painted swinging sign, announcing that homemade candies were for sale, and a row of hollyhocks in front, made the quaint place impossible to pass by. So she did a fine business, and the end of the summer found her in funds, high spirits and health.
A GIRL, Miss Mary Bendelari by name, who though born in Cleveland, Ohio, is the daughter of a Canadian mother and father, and who was educated in Toronto and Montreal, has achieved quite a sensational success in Paris as the designer and maker of shoes that are individual in design and beautiful in coloring. This girl in her early twenties started about a year ago with one expert Russian workman. By June, 1925, her staff included five enamelers, while the output of her well-lighted factory on the Seine was nearly 1,000 shoes a week.
Previously the young girl had been a student of dress design in New York for a time, but although this course gave her a wealth of information and provided the foundation for her present work, at the time it seemed rather disappointing to her.
It was when in the south of France that the idea came to Mary Bendalari to make shoes that would be as original and beautiful as hats and frocks. That there existed a need of such an undertaking is shown by the furore her product has created. It is sold not only in Paris but all over America, from Montreal to Palm Beach, and this year the young designer has made three trips to this side to market her shoes. The most fashionable brides include some pairs in their trousseau, and wherever smart people go there is a call for Sandalari shoes, as she names them. She has based her models on old Russian and Serbian styles, and they are made of softest, finest leather, brocade, tapestry, lace and are embroidered or enamelled according to the occasion for which they are made. Among the people who turn them out are some with an interesting history. One was formerly a professor of languages in a university. Another, a woman who embroiders most exquisitely, was oncea notable singer. A third formerly, stood high in the cabinet of a principality.
Miss Bendalari gets her ideas from art galleries and museums in Paris, and applies to them her knowledge of design and color. Shoes for every kind of costume are made, from bedroom mules, which are the cheapest turned out and cost $12.50 a pair, to golf shoes. But each pair is unusual in its originality. To quote the young designer, “One must not merely fit the foot; one must dress it.”
BUT how about the home-staying girl, who has never been trained to do anything? What can she do, some may ask. Here is the way one such girl has solved the question of supply and an interesting occupation. Having a distinct flare for clothes, she has gone into the business of importing French frocks and hats, just a few at a time, using a big front room in her home to display them. Although putting very little capital into her business, she is doing well. Customers tell their friends about it, and she has no difficulty in selling because she puts a small profit on her merchandise. A good friend in Paris does the selecting for her, and that is one of the reasons for her suc-
Now as this truthful recital so far leaves men entirely out of the case, here is the story of a young bank clerk who was ambitious. His tastes ran to finance and economics, so he read and digested everything he could get hold of on these subjects. The years passed by, and found this man noted both as a writer and authority on political economy, with a high place in Canadian national life.
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