Camila Gaddy

Finding Her True Calling

Just a few short decades ago, women didn't have to worry about choosing a career. For the majority of females, the path was already mapped out for them. Today it's a different story, and while freedom of choice is always a blessing, the responsibility of deciding what one does for a living comes with its own set of worries. What is it that fulfills us and makes us happy? Camila Gaddy had been asking herself that question for years. In a process that took a decade and several courses of study-not to mention residence in two different countries, a marriage, two kids, a life-changing book and numerous odd jobs that just didn't fill her up-Camila finally found her vocation.

"What is it that makes you come alive?" asks this native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "When you go to bed and you can't stop thinking about that thing, you would do it for free just because you love it so much, what is that thing?"

For Camila, that thing turned out to be goldsmithing. The journey began when she was still a student in Rio de Janeiro, pursuing a degree in fashion design from a Brazilian institute. She loved the creative aspect, but found she just couldn't get into the cut-throat environment of the fashion world.

So she went back to school to become a diplomat, thinking that "international relations" meant she would be dealing with a lot of human involvement. She quickly found this wasn't the case, as the focus lay on strategy with little concern for people. She needed some time to think, she decided, so she came to the United States through a program that found her a seasonal job at a ski resort in Colorado. It was there she met the man who would become her husband, and while dating him, she admits, her soul-searching went onto the back-burner.

Soon she had kids and the priority was working in anything that would pay the bills. In 2004 they moved to Hilton Head Island, ccvand it was around this time that Camila picked up the book that would change her life: The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People.

"I couldn't put it down," she said. "The next day the thinking bug had come back to me and I wanted to do research to find something that I didn't just like, but that I was passionate about."

Knowing that she enjoyed being creative and working with her hands, she decided to ask a Brazilian friend of hers, goldsmith Fernando Toniollo, if she could shadow him in his workshop.

"After the first 10 minutes in that shop, I knew that's what I wanted to do," she said. "It was like being in love for the first time, if felt so natural." Almost six months later, she is well on her way to becoming a jewelry designer with her own set of tools and her own philosophy about this ancient craft.

"I don't want to lose the art and the history," said Camila, who loves using primitive tools that have been around for centuries. "I see jewelry as more than an ornament; I see jewelry as poetry, because you can use it to send a message."

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Hometown: Rio de Janeiro Mother of: Emily, 5 and Nicholas, 3 Thought behind her art: "I want my jewelry to transcend the status of having and reach the status of being. It's not, 'I have this ring.' It's, 'I am this ring.'" Advice to women searching for their true calling: "Start a little notebook and write down all the things that make you happy, everything that stole your breath away. It will become like a puzzle-you put the pieces together and you will see clearly what it is."